The MSC Forecasters Forums and the Future Role of the Human Forecaster David Sills Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Research Section, Environment Canada, Toronto, Canada 2009 CMOS Congress 31 May – 4 June, Halifax, NS
MSC Restructuring • In 2003, the MSC began a significant restructuring of its forecasting operations in response to financial pressures • Senior management proposed that the MSC could be made more cost effective while continuing to provide quality services by pursuing a more centralized forecasting approach • As a result, regional public/marine forecasting centres were reduced in number from 14 to 5 and renamed “Storm Prediction Centres” • In addition, a new methodology for operational forecasting was introduced. “Routine weather” forecasts were to be automated via NWP, forecasters were to concentrate their efforts on “high-impact weather” (HIW)
ASPC PASPC QSPC PSPC OSPC MSC Restructuring • How would the role and responsibilities of the human forecaster change in this restructured organization? • How would “routine weather” be discriminated from “HIW” on a daily basis? • What kinds of tools and techniques would allow monitoring of, and forecasting for, such large areas of responsibility?
Forecasters Forums • How would the role and responsibilities of the human forecaster change in this restructured organization? • How would routine weather be discriminated from HIW on a daily basis? • What kind of tools and techniques would allow monitoring of, and forecasting for, such large areas of responsibility? 2003 2005 2004
Forecasters Forums The Forecasters Forums provided an opportunity for: • Hundreds of participants from within and outside the MSC to influence the details of the restructuring • Work toward a common vision for the future via wide-ranging, interactive discussions
Forecasters Forums • More than 60% of all MSC operational forecasters — including MSC aviation, defense, and ice forecasters — attended at least one of the three forums
Forecasters Forums • Results from the Forums: • The human forecaster needs to maintain a central role in the forecast process, NWP systems considered valuable guidance tools • A greater emphasis on ‘hands-on’ analysis / diagnosis / prognosis required • Production systems incorporating an area-based, object-editing approach [e.g., Forecast Production Assistant (FPA)] thought to be more intuitive and better suited to large regions than those employing a point-based matrix-editing approach (e.g., SCRIBE), or an area-based grid-editing approach [e.g., Interactive Forecast Preparation System (IFPS)] • Output from ensemble forecast systems should be used by the human forecaster to make deterministic products better (though more forecaster training and public education are needed)
Role of the Human Forecaster • Based in part on these results: • Recommend in the BAMS paper that the “primary role of the forecaster should be to develop and maintain a sequence of plan-view composite depictions evolving through time to best represent the current and future states of the atmosphere” • Accomplished using an area-based, object-oriented analysis/forecast system with a toolbox of NWP guidance and carefully designed AI assistants • Forecaster’s work would be focused on HIW events, mainly in the short term but also in the longer term when necessary • Products would be automatically generated from the weather-object database, allowing the forecast team to focus on “hands on” analysis / diagnosis / prognosis, and maintain shared situational awareness at all times
Human forecaster has central role through interaction with analysis / forecast system Future Forecast Process
Optimal Human-Machine Mix • Makes best use of human strengths • Judgment / decision-making • Pattern recognition • Conceptual and mental models • Adaptive strategies • Makes best use of machine strengths • Dealing with large volumes of data • Integrating multiple datasets • Handling complex calculations and complicated parameter interactions • Automating product generation • Enhances human expertise • Regular hands-on analysis, diagnosis and prognosis • Conceptual models and dynamic mental models required
iCAST Nowcasting Prototype • iCAST (interactive Convective Analysis and Storm Tracking) combines RSD nowcasting products from previous years with new storm tracking capabilities - convective nowcasting in 6-hour timeframe - convective analysis each hour - storm-scale nowcasting: URP-based tracks and ellipses modified by the nowcaster • Employs an area-based, object-editing approach • Attempts to find an optimal human-machine mix for nowcasting
Areas of convection 18-21Z Lake breeze fronts
Lake breeze fronts The basis of a good nowcast is a good mesoanalysis!
iCAST Storm-scale Nowcasting • Need for ‘warn on forecast’ approach at storm scale • Also, current warning region selection technology can significantly decrease lead times • Nowcaster should focus on meteorology, not product generation • - Nowcaster would work with storm objects within Aurora (NinJo) and utilize conceptual / mental models • - Warning bulletin generation would be semi-automated • Would eliminate the need for a ‘warning region selector’ in NinJo
URP tracking: supercell motion linearly extrapolated 30 min into future Radar echo • Forecaster’s mental model: supercell will continue to veer rightward and intensify upon encountering the surface boundary, after which it will begin to dissipate and return to non-deviate storm motion Surface boundary position from most recent mesoscale analysis
Display cell attrbutes including SCIT data trends (meso, hail, WDRAFT, etc.) for cell Convective Trend Options O Intensification O Initiation O Dissipation O No change • Based on the forecaster’s mental model, URP tracks adjusted, filtered, replaced; ellipses modified to indicate intensity trend and cell size • Intensity trend for each ellipse is chosen via a pop-up menu • Unlike purely extrapolation-based nowcasting systems, the nowcaster would also be able to forecast the initiation of convection and include new cells in the object database Radar echo Surface boundary position from most recent mesoscale analysis
Warning areas selected based on meteorological features, not political boundaries • Underlying GIS database would grab all of the non-meteorological information for the warning bulletin • A pop-up window allows the forecaster to check off which severe weather elements to include in the warning • A box would also available for free-form text in order to include uncertainty information Severe Thunderstorm Warning O Hail O Damaging Winds X O Heavy Rain O Possibility of tornado Free form text box…
iCAST Summary • Forecaster’s time is spent on meteorology (using human strengths), not on the details of product generation (machine strengths) • Situational awareness maintained at all times • Challenge will be maintaining object database with new data every 10 minutes ►SCIT table • Similar approaches are being pursued in Australia (TIFS) and France (SIGOONS) • To be tested at OSPC RSD starting this summer, with goal of eventual implementation in NinJo
Reference Sills, D. M. L., 2009: On the MSC Forecasters Forums and the Future Role of the Human Forecaster. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., in press.