NOAA scientists can get a lot done in a year. That’s one big takeaway from the 2020 NOAA Science Report, which outlines our agency’s key scientific accomplishments from 2020.
Scientists hope images from the research drones will improve our understanding of tornadoes and lead to better forecasts.
Launching uncrewed systems to monitor climate and ecosystem changes in the U.S. Arctic, sequencing the genome for endangered marine species, and improving weather forecasts with advances in regional models — these are just a few of NOAA’s scientific achievements in 2020. The newly released 2020 NOAA Science Report highlights the ways these accomplishments — and many more — provide the foundation for vital services that Americans use every day.
On the afternoon of April 13, 2018, a large wave of water surged across Lake Michigan and flooded the shores of the picturesque beach town of Ludington, Michigan, damaging homes and boat docks, and flooding intake pipes. Thanks to a local citizen’s photos and other data, NOAA scientists reconstructed the event in models and determined this was the first ever documented meteotsunami in the Great Lakes caused by an atmospheric inertia-gravity wave.
NOAA and partners have released the source code for its next-generation short-range forecast application to the weather research community to accelerate development of the model, which predicts atmospheric behavior on a timescale from less than an hour to several days, including critical life-saving weather and water forecasts during extreme events.
All tornadoes -- whether large or small -- originate from thunderstorms, but not all thunderstorms are the same. Nighttime twisters, summer tornadoes and smaller events can be tougher to forecast. New research in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society presents a method for rating the skill of tornado warnings based on environmental challenges.
A new model named SPOTer (Seasonal Probabilistic Outlook for Tornadoes) shows promise in predicting active seasons 1-2 months in advance.
Known for precipitating outbreaks of Arctic air, stratospheric events in polar regions often cause other kinds of extreme weather. Since the stratosphere takes a long time to recover after these events, scientists may be able to improve predictability of extreme weather weeks ahead of time.
In clear skies over Maryland the week of January 11, NOAA scientists launched a research drone from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter plane to test its ability to gather weather data that could improve hurricane forecasts.
NOAA scientists project the maximum Great Lakes ice cover for 2021 will be 30 percent, higher than last year’s maximum of 19.5 percent, but part of a long-term pattern of declining ice cover likely driven by climate change.
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.