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NOAA ANNOUNCES IMPROVED WEATHER FORECASTS ON THE HORIZON

Image of NASA's Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder, or AIRS, Daily air temperature (F) 700 mb (millibar) for Aug. 23, 2005.Aug. 24, 2005 Scientists at the NOAA National Weather Service announced today a significant improvement in the weather and climate models that produce forecasts out to 15 days, which began this summer. More detailed atmospheric information is being produced at the NOAA Environmental Modeling Center, allowing public and private meteorologists to forecast with increasing accuracy. (Click image for larger view of NASA's Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder, or AIRS, Daily air temperature (F) 700 mb (millibar) for Aug. 23, 2005. Pressures of 700 mb correspond to 8,000 feet (2,000 m) above the surface. Image courtesy of NASA.)

The announcement follows major upgrades to the NOAA Global Forecast System, which is the primary model used to forecast weather patterns around the globe. The GFS is used in a variety of NOAA National Weather Service forecasts, including hurricanes, heavy precipitation, drought, snowstorms, icing and aviation. Now, the GFS incorporates improved physics of the atmosphere, a clearer representation of the Earth's terrain, enhanced satellite data from NASA's Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder, as well as other technical changes.

"Our nation will have longer-ranging alerts and forecasts through these improvements to the current system thanks to its more specific and higher resolution output," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "These significant developments will have a huge impact on the economy and citizens’ quality of life locally and nationally."

The GFS produces forecasts of wind, temperature, humidity and air pressure for the atmosphere up to 35 miles above the Earth for one to 15 days. NOAA is currently working on additional ways to extract and use even more of NASA's AIRS data in NOAA's operational weather and climate forecast models.

"This advancement makes it possible for NOAA forecasters to produce more skillful forecasts," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service. "When the GFS improves, nearly all of the National Weather Service's operational forecasts improve."

Based on a re-analysis of selected 2004 North Atlantic tropical storms, NOAA scientists and forecasters are expecting, on average, about a 12-15 percent reduction in track forecast errors at 24 through 36 hours and about a 20 percent reduction in track forecast errors at 4-5 days. The GFS is one of the most important members of the NOAA National Weather Service's family of forecast models.

"One of the most significant milestones of today's announcement is the increase in model resolution of the GFS," said Stephen Lord, director of the NOAA Environmental Modeling Center. "The model resolution is going from 35 miles to 22 miles, giving NOAA scientists the ability to forecast more precisely than ever before how precipitation, temperature, humidity and wind events are predicted in the atmosphere, thus affecting weather around the globe."

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Environmental Modeling Center

NOAA National Weather Service

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163