From the ECMWF is kicking your butt department: This legislation directs NOAA to prioritize its research
House Approves Weather Forecasting Bill
WASHINGTON- The U.S House of Representatives today unanimously approved the Senate amendment to H.R. 353, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act, introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Vice Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). This legislation directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize its research to improve weather data, modelling, computing, forecasting, and warnings.
Vice Chairman Lucas: “When a major storm or tornado is quickly approaching your community, every additional minute of preparation time counts. This legislation strengthens our country’s commitment to severe weather forecasting and ensures NOAA has access to the best weather data. I am proud the bill also includes a dedicated Tornado Warning Improvement Program that will help develop detection and notification systems.
“The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act is a major step toward more accurate and timely weather predictions, and I am eager to see these life-saving policies signed into law soon.”
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Today we took a major step to transform our nation’s weather forecasting. The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act will enable new weather research, models, and technologies to better protect lives and property. With this bipartisan effort, we will improve forecasting by looking to the private sector for new technologies and weather solutions. This bill gives NOAA a clear vision and allows them the flexibility to buy new, affordable, and potentially better sources of data. With more and better options, we can finally make needed improvements to our weather forecasting capabilities. I look forward to the president signing this critical legislation so that we can make our weather industry great again.”
This legislation is the product of a bipartisan effort. It directs the NOAA administrator to focus resources and effort to:
- Prioritize NOAA research on next generation weather data, modeling, and computing;
- Emphasize developing much more accurate forecasts and longer warning times for high impact weather events;
- Support proactive technology transfer of weather research into operations to protect lives and property;
- Create focused programs to extend warning lead times and improve forecasts for tornadoes and hurricanes specifically;
- Develop a plan to utilize observing system simulation experiments and innovative technology to regain U.S. superiority in weather modeling and forecasts;
- Employ new commercial data options and private sector weather solutions; and
- Enhance coordination among various federal government weather stakeholders.
The legislation also authorizes and extends a NOAA pilot program already under way thanks to a partnership between the House Science and the House Appropriations Committees. Under this pilot program, NOAA has already issued two contracts to procure commercial satellite weather data. This pilot program could bring about a paradigm shift in how NOAA makes decisions about future procurement of critical weather data and systems.
Forecasters have seen for several years now that the European ECMWF forecast model has routinely outperformed U.S. Forecast models. For example, the ECMWF model correctly projected Hurricane Sandy’s left turn into the New Jersey coast about a week in advance, whereas the US based GFS model didn’t project that path change until the storm was much closer to the East Coast.
“What the European modeling community is doing is just amazing,” Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell, told Ars. “This is the golden age of weather forecasters. It’s an absolute wonder of computer modeling technology.” source
Part of the problem is that NOAA has put too much funding priority on climate forecast models, that’s about to change, dramatically, since climate models aren’t verifiable until years later, and offer no short term operational usefulness to the United States economy or safety.
From UCAR today:
“This landmark legislation will save lives and property while providing business leaders with critical intelligence,” said Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). “Today’s bipartisan vote underscores the enduring value of scientific research to our nation.”
The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act is the first major weather legislation since the early 1990s. It calls for more research into subseasonal to seasonal prediction, a priority for business and community leaders who need more reliable predictions of weather patterns weeks to months in advance. The bill also will strengthen short-term weather forecasts and smooth the way for research findings to be adopted by forecasters and commercial weather companies.
UCAR may not be so enthusiastic when they see how much their climate programs get hammered.