Weather Forecasting

MISSION #2: Apply research results to operational weather forecasting by collaborating with civilian and military forecasters. Maintain a real-time, all-hazards Incident Map Room with official government information to facilitate situational awareness among decision makers and concerned citizens.

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Our team of Typhoon Duty Officers, Geophysical Technicians, and Satellite Analysts at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor.




Bridging the Research and Forecasting Communities

 

In the field of meteorology, the research and forecasting communities often operate independently. Researchers are at the forefront of observational, theoretical, and experimental meteorology, generating new knowledge that broadens our scientific understanding of the atmosphere. On the other hand, forecasters are tasked with the responsibility of monitoring the day-to-day changes in the weather, being responsible for alerting the public to upcoming hazards to life and property. Although all are meteorologists, researchers live on the front lines of scientific discovery, whereas forecasters live on the front lines of defending people and assets against hazardous weather. In theory, research results can be targeted at forecasting operations and can be easily applied in real-time. In practice, however, the process is not easy. Forecasters require consistent and reliable tools, because they must deal with the inherent “messiness” of real weather. On the other hand, in order to answer fundamental scientific questions, researchers often must make approximations and simplify problems to “ideal” scenarios. Although numerical models have increased the objectivity of forecasting, because of uncertainties and complexities of real weather, forecasters must still rely on pattern recognition, experience, and even intuition. However, researchers try their best to eliminate those more qualitative methodologies, preferring repeatable objectivity over personal subjectivity as a means to develop scientifically-rigorous theories.

This disconnect between the approach and language of researchers vs. forecasters has posed a unique challenge in the field of meteorology for generations, yet in order to build public safety and national resilience, these two communities must work together and share their expertise. Various “test beds” and programs around the country have been established to facilitate “research-to-operations” or “operations-to-research” efforts, but much more can still be done to enhance the dialogue. It is in this spirit that I wish to bridge the gap between the two communities.

As a researcher, I completed Typhoon Duty Officer (TDO) training at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in order to get a full understanding of the challenges of real-time forecasting. Located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the JTWC is responsible for forecasting 89% of the world’s tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. I spent a full year, on my own time, completing hundreds of training tasks in order to be qualified as a TDO, so that I can fully appreciate the perspective of forecasters and better apply my research results to operations. I was trained in the Dvorak Method of satellite TC intensity estimation, learned to give military-style operational weather briefings, and became proficient with the Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecasting system. I continue an unprecedented collaboration with JTWC, as the only researcher in the University of Hawai’i to voluntarily become TDO-qualified. It is my hope that this will enhance our ongoing dialogue between the scientific research and operational weather forecasting communities.

Finally, to improve the access to weather forecasts in the public domain, I have established the Incident Map Room, which collects real-time, official information about ongoing and forecast weather hazards. Please see the “Incident Map Room” menu item above for more information.