NOAA Launches Major Upgrade To U.S. Global Forecasting Model

SILVER SPRING, MD – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched a major update to its flagship computer model, the Global Forecast System, to improve the accuracy of forecasts.

The main point of interest with the new model, nicknamed the “GFS-15”, is its entirely new forecasting core, the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere (FV3). This brand new core will help boost the accuracy of numerical weather prediction for severe weather, winter storms, and tropical cyclones.

The FV3 was originally developed by scientists at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory to help predict long-range weather patterns from five weeks and under, upwards of multiple decades in advance. In recent years, scientists have also believed the FV3 could even be used as an engine for global weather forecasting and prediction in the future.

The brand new FV3-powered GFS model marriages the power of global climate modeling, with the rapid speed of numerical weather prediction to highly improve the forecasting ability of the model.

The National Centers For Environmental Prediction brought on-board more than 100 scientists, computer modelers, and programers for an extensive testing period with the new model within NECP’s Environmental Modeling Center and Central Operations Unit, to document the performance of the new generation model in comparison with the old GFS model.

After a year of running the model in an experimental state along side the then-operational GFS and examining weather events that date back an additional three years, NOAA states that the new FV3 GFS preformed “equal or better” than the previous generation GFS.

The new GFS model is a major leap forward with NOAA’s initiative to create the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) which will be tasked with advancing U.S. weather forecast modeling.

For decades, the GFS has lacked in overall accuracy compared to the gold-standard Ensemble models created by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. With the creation of EPIC, NOAA’s plans are to step up model research and build an entirely new framework where code that powers the FV3-GFS will be available to researchers and scientists.

Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, says they are excited about all the advancements made within the new model.

“Switching out the dynamic core will have significant impacts on our ability to make more accurate one to two day forecasts and increase the level of accuracy for three to seven day forecasts.”

“In the past few years, NOAA has made several significant technological leaps into the future.” said NOAA’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“With new satellites in orbit to this latest weather model upgrade, the dedicated scientists, forecasters and staff at NOAA will remain ever-alert for any threat to American lives and property.”

NOAA has since seized the Operational status of the previous GFS but the model will continue running along side the FV3-GFS at NCEP until the end of September 2019 to allow forecasters to compare runs between the two models.

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