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October 25, 2016
NOAA Invests $6 Million to Speed Use of New Research and Technologies to Improve Severe Weather Forecasts

NOAA Research today announced $6 million in funding to get scientific and technological advances from the government and academia to NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) more rapidly, improving severe weather and water hazards forecasting.

“NOAA has sharpened its focus on speeding up this important transition of technology to National Weather Service day-to-day operations,” said John Cortinas, director of NOAA Research’s Office of Weather and Air Quality, which manages the Joint Technology Transfer Initiative in close coordination with NWS. “This funding represents another important step to get new tools and technologies more rapidly into the hands of our weather forecasters who serve communities around the nation.”

Extreme weather is on the rise, and Americans are increasingly vulnerable to its effects. The NWS must provide modern customer service to meet the needs of 21st century America. Despite thousands of weather warnings that NWS issues each year, hundreds of American lives are lost each year to flooding, snowstorms, tornadoes and other weather events. But getting new and more powerful forecasting tools into the hands of forecasters is not simple or often speedy.

Stream radar

Radar is positioned on a metal pole high above Honey Creek in Davis, Oklahoma, as a new tool to monitor stream levels in real time and improve the prediction of flooding. (Credit: J.J. Gourley, NOAA)

There are complex challenges before forecasters can use the new improved methods, and the tools must be carefully tested to ensure high quality and reliability. The Joint Technology Transfer Initiative brings scientists and forecasters together to streamline the transition. Early collaboration helps ensure that new tools are well adapted to NWS forecast models and computers, and that they produce information that is easily understood and usable in NOAA’s fast-paced forecasting offices.

NOAA focused this year’s grant competition on projects that improve severe storm and water forecasts through improved forecast models, new observational capabilities and better methods of assimilating data into weather forecast models.

NOAA awarded funds primarily to its cooperative institutes and other academic partners to support a range of projects. They include projects to:

·       improve the accuracy of rainfall estimates and forecasts of flash flooding, hail, severe winds, thunderstorms and other weather hazards

·       improve weather prediction models

·       use radar to provide more frequent observations and real-time alerts of stream flows in waterways. Forecasters can use this data to enhance the current stream flood monitoring system.

·       test if adding lower atmospheric temperature and moisture data from ground-based instruments can improve thunderstorm prediction

·       improve methods of integrating lake and reservoir level observations, including Great Lakes water levels, into the National Water Model, which simulates and forecasts stream flow across the country.

·       acquire the latest technology to improve drought monitoring and early warning systems

“These grants support the transition of some of the most promising tools to improve forecasting,” Cortinas said. “They allow each new technology to be carefully tested to ensure they are reliable and enable weather forecasters to give our public safety partners the best information to make life-saving decisions.”

For a more detailed information on the grants, look for Joint Technology Transfer Initiative in this grant listing, http://owaq.noaa.gov/GrantsandProjects.aspx.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels.

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