(Excerpts from: USWRP Vision Document)
THE U.S. WEATHER RESEARCH PROGRAM:(pdf)
National Need, Vision,
& Interagency Plan for FY 2000-2006
The vulnerability of the United States to weather is increasing because rapid growth in the need for weather information has outpaced improvements in weather prediction.
• Explosive population growth has increased evacuation times for the residents of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts; thousands of people are at greater risk from major hurricanes if lead-time landfall forecasts are not commensurately improved.
• Poor forecasts of heavy precipitation events are unlikely to be improved and consequent losses reduced because of a lack of upstream observations over data-sparse oceans; when upstream observations are available, current forecasting methods are unable to properly assimilate them. These conditions limit the accuracy and lead times of storm forecasts.
By not addressing this need for improved weather information, we impair effective decision-making at a potential cost of billions of dollars annually.
The United States is poised to achieve extraordinary advances in the science of weather prediction. Major observational infrastructure investments by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), such as the National Weather Service (NWS) modernization and net-generation satellites, respectively; enhanced cooperation among federal agencies and the academic community; and better understanding of the atmosphere provide a strong foundation for making these advances.
The United States Weather Research Program (USWRP) provides the essential focal point and organizational driver for moving ideas and technology from the research arena to operational implementation in order to achieve the goal of greatly improved weather prediction.
The USWRP is a partnership among several governmental agencies–NOAA, NASA, DOE, DOT, USDA, the American Meteorological Society, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Navy–and the academic and commercial communities. The program will be implemented through a series of highly focused projects that were selected based on advice from members of the scientific and user communities. The program’s initial scientific foci for FY 2000-2006 are
• landfalling hurricanes;
• heavy precipitation and flooding, focusing on the optimal use of data and improved numerical precipitation guidance;
• societal and economic impacts.
The program will coordinate activities within national laboratories and provide extramural grants to
• provide for needed research;
• evaluate the impact of increasing the number of offshore weather observations in numerical precipitation guidance products;
• accelerate the transfer of research products into operational services provided by NOAA and the U.S. Navy;
• forge stronger partnerships among the physical and social/economic research communities, providers of weather services, and end users.
USWRP studies will improve fundamental understanding; develop techniques and technologies; provide for forecast demonstrations; and generate objective evidence of cost-benefit ratios.
The program will work closely with federal, state, and local authorities and the private meteorological sector to facilitate the transfer of improved forecast technologies to various public- and private-sector applications.
Adjustments to future forecast systems will include improved conceptual models, revised data-utilization techniques, advanced numerical models, revised observational strategies, redistribution of existing observational systems, improved instrumentation, and additional observing systems.
Key to realizing these goals will be two testbed forecast development facilities–providing personnel and quasi-operational forecast systems–that will test and evaluate new technologies, techniques, and observations in parallel with operational systems.
As national priorities evolve, the USWRP will continually evaluate its foci through dialogue with agencies and experts in universities, the private sector, and government laboratories, with an eye toward identifying the intersection of achievable scientific breakthroughs with important societal impacts.
The program will accomplish these evaluations by creating expert committees, holding workshops, and assembling teams of experts to examine critical issues.
The overarching goal of the USWRP is to accelerate improvement in high-impact weather forecasting capability–in particular, improvement in forecast timing, location, and specific rainfall amounts associated with hurricane landfall and flood events that significantly affect the lives and property of U.S. inhabitants.
Specific USWRP goals, milestones, and activities are contained in two reports. An Implementation Plan for Hurricane Landfall and An Implementation Plan for Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting and Data Assimilation.
These reports may be found in their entirety at the USWRP web site: http://uswrp.org/, or from the Office of the Lead Scientist, NCAR, P. O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000, and described in Section 4 of this document(pdf).