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NOAA begins transition of powerful new tool to improve hurricane forecasts
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NOAA begins transition of powerful new tool to improve hurricane forecasts

Superior physics will help revolutionize numerical weather prediction

NOAA will begin using its newest weather prediction tool -- the dynamic core, Finite-Volume on a Cubed-Sphere (FV3), to provide high quality guidance to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center through the 2017 hurricane season. 

Developed by Shian-Jiann Lin and his team at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), the FV3 will be used to power experimental hurricane forecast models that run parallel to the operational forecast models this season. This is the start of a major transition of the FV3 to NOAA operational weather forecasting, expected to be completed in 2019. 

“For more than a decade the FV3 has been advancing the frontiers of weather and climate prediction on timescales of seasons to decades,” said V. “Ram” Ramaswamy, director of NOAA’s GFDL. “The new paradigm shift is to combine the strengths of the FV3 with weather forecast models to improve operational weather and hurricane forecasting for our nation.” 

The FV3 brings more sophisticated physics, a new level of accuracy, and greater numeric efficiency to how high-speed computer-driven weather models represent air motions and other atmospheric processes. It makes possible simulations of clouds and storms at resolutions not yet used in an operational global forecast model. The FV3 was chosen by NOAA last year to become the heart of NOAA’s next generation U.S. Global Forecast System (GFS), currently being developed. 

Bringing together the best of weather and climate models

“Climate modelers are coming from the global side down and we’re coming from the hurricane scale up,” said Frank Marks, director of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division. “And we’re meeting in a place where we can dramatically improve storm prediction.” 

Looking 10 years ahead, the new GFS model with the FV3 core will run in higher resolution and be able to zoom in on smaller and smaller storm systems to provide forecasters better pictures of how storms evolve. FV3 will enable the GFS to provide localized forecasts for several weather events simultaneously all while generating a global forecast every six hours. It will operate alongside NOAA’s other forecast models.

In addition to working with NOAA researchers to transition the FV3 to aid hurricane prediction this season, NOAA’s National Weather Service will also go live this summer with a newly updated Hurricane Weather Research Forecast (HWRF) model to better represent storms at resolutions down to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers). Hurricane researchers are testing an upgraded version of the HWRF to better represent how multiple storms interact and affect the track and intensity of each other. 

This season also brings improvements by researchers in the amount and quality of weather observations primarily from aircraft and more effective assimilation of these observations into high- speed, computer-powered forecast models. 

NOAA hurricane researchers will also conduct a field campaign using P-3 and G-IV Hurricane Hunter aircraft to collect weather data during the early stages of hurricane rapid intensification to improve our understanding and forecasting of this highly dangerous period of an evolving hurricane. 

For more information please contact Monica Allen, director of public affairs for NOAA Research, at 301-734-1123 or by email at

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Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.


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