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About Us

The Numerical Modeling Group of the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is located at the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML). The group was founded in 2007 and is composed eight highly skilled scientists with a group-average of 10 years of service at NOAA. Group members are from the diverse fields of meteorology, hurricane modeling, and computer science. Since its inception, the AOML/HRD Numerical Modeling Group has significantly improved NOAA's HWRF model. The improved model received the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stamp of approval for full operation in 2012. The improved model's benefits to society are more accurate hurricane structure, intensity and track forecasts, which result in reduced warning times and more informed evacuation planning to save lives and property.


Performance

NOAA's Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model has been used for several years by NHC as one of their operational forecast models. However, the results from NOAA's HWRF model, as with many of the operational models, left much room for improvement, especially in the areas of storm structure and intensity prediction. The AOML/HRD Numerical Modeling Group, through a multi-year effort supported by NOAA's Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP), has improved the original NOAA's HWRF model. This new cutting-edge high-resolution hurricane model, will form the backbone of future improvements to track, intensity and structure predictions. The group's sustained research using cutting edge numerical modeling and verification techniques has helped accelerate the advancement of the model's development and has played a key role in the success of NOAA's Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP). Their achievements will provide hurricane forecasters not only with improved forecasts, but also with critical information on the evolution of the three dimensional wind structure within the storm. Some of the improvements to the model include:

  1. The group added the ability of the model to accurately forecast multiple hurricanes during a single simulation by developing novel computer code that places multiple nested, high-resolution "moving grids". This was a significant scientific and engineering achievement that required optimization of the code enabling the improved model to produce real-time (operational) hurricane forecasts at very high resolution with minimal additional computational resources.
  2. Increasing the resolution for the model that not only resulted in improvements to the forecasts but also allowed the model to capture more detail about the wind and rain structure of the storm.
  3. The group, in partnership with NOAA's Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), developed a novel method to initialize the wind structure of storms for the model. This new computationally-efficient method adjusts and reuses the model-evolved storms in subsequent simulations. The improved initial hurricane structure is another contributor to improved intensity forecasts.
  4. The group also incorporated into the model better representations of the various factors that contribute to hurricane intensification such as energy fluxes from ocean to atmosphere, rain, moisture, etc. In addition, members of the group participated in NOAA flights that collected inner-core data from various hurricanes. The group used the collected data to guide their development of the improvements to the model.
  5. The group developed innovative model analysis tools that allowed for comparisons of model and observed storm structures, track and intensity forecasts. Part of this effort involved the development of an advanced web-based graphical interface that provided the scientific community, including HFIP specialists, with access to this information in real-time.
As a result of the AOML/HRD Numerical Modeling Group's diligent efforts, unparalleld support by NOAA's HFIP, and close collaborative research work with EMC, the improved NOAA's HWRF model was incorporated as one of NHC's operational hurricane forecasting models beginning with the 2012 season. Improved forecasts benefit emergency managers along coastal areas of the US, reducing warning times and the extent of evacuation areas, thus saving lives, helping to mitigate property damage and increasing the public's confidence in NOAA's official hurricane forecasts and warnings. In addition, the meteorological community has also recognized the impact of the group's outstanding research through their published journal articles and presentations at international scientific conferences, workshops, and strategic planning sessions. Also, the group organized and lead the first Advanced Indo-U.S. Workshop and Colloquium on Modeling and Data Assimilation for Tropical Cyclone Predictions, which brought together leading experts in research and operational meteorological disciplines from around the world to shed light on the challenges and opportunities in predicting tropical cyclones.


Self Improvement

Members of the AOML/HRD Numerical Modeling Group are committed to continual learning. They have enrolled in the various job-training sessions (Airborne Doppler Radar training, GPS dropwindsonde training, Synoptic mission flight planning, and Aviation Water Safety training) to gain skills needed to participate in hurricane flight research missions. They have also completed courses in CPR, Environmental and Workplace Safety, IT Security, Scientific GPU Programming, EEO/Sexual Harassment and special training in operational hurricane modeling.


Community Service

Members of the AOML/HRD Numerical Modeling Group value their community by performing various outreach activities. Through the years they have mentored numerous students (from high school to the graduate level) who are pursuing a career in science and engineering. They have given many talks to the community about hurricane awareness including through the NOAA booth at the South-Florida Miami-Dade County Fair. They have also spoken to schools including Career Day presentations to interest students in pursuing careers in science. They also educate the public about hurricane research and societal impact through media interviews (TV, radio, newspaper and internet) and through communicating information through social media. Their exemplary work in science and outreach to the local community represent their dedication to their career and others.


Acknowledgements

With much gratitude, the AOML/HRD Numerical Modeling Group acknowledges the vital scientific and executive support that it has received from NOAA/AOML laboratory's upper-management since its inception. The support of Dr. Frank Marks, director of AOML/HRD, and Dr. Robert Atlas, director of the AOML laboratory, has been crucial in the group's quest to fulfill one of NOAA's axiomatic goals: to improve hurricane track, structure, and intensity predictions by advancing NOAA's HWRF modeling system.

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