New $50 million hurricane research center: a bad idea

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:28 PM GMT on July 01, 2009

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Hurricane track forecasts have improved by about 50% over the past twenty years, which has undoubtedly saved many lives and billions of dollars. These forecast improvements have primarily resulted from the investment made in hurricane research, which has been funded at approximately $50 million per year over that period. To me, it is unfathomable that our nation spends so little on scientific research that provides such an incredible value. The President's National Science Board, which makes budget recommendations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), agrees, and recommended a six-fold increase in hurricane research spending to $300 million per year in a 2007 report. But exactly how much "bang for the buck" are we getting from hurricane research? The answer is murky, making it difficult to excite the kind of attention and political appeal needed to give hurricane research funding the big shot in the arm it deserves. However, recent moves by the Obama administration show that they are taking notice of the need to spend more money on hurricane research. But, a recent proposal by Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, to build a new $50 million hurricane research center in Orlando, is the wrong way to boost hurricane research.


Figure 1. A science team led by NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD) prepares for a mission into Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Image credit: NOAA/HRD.

How current hurricane research is funded
In 2008, about $50 million was spent by the U.S. government on hurricane research, with about 25% of this total going to maintain the facilities that do the research. The $50 million funded 228 person-years of research. About 35% of this was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the rest of the money coming from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and NASA. An additional $4 million was earmarked by Congress in 2008 to fund NOAA's promising new effort to improve hurricane intensity forecasts--the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP).

Where future funding increases should go: HFIP and JHT
The President's proposed FY 2010 budget continues the roughly $50 million dollars the hurricane research community traditionally gets, but adds $13 million in funding for the HFIP effort. To me, this is a great way to channel new hurricane research funding, as the HFIP effort is heavily focused on improving hurricane intensity forecasts, which have not improved at all over the past twenty years. Specific advancements outlined in the HFIP plan include:

1) Improving hurricane track forecast accuracy by 50% out to 5 days by 2018.
2) Improving hurricane intensity forecast accuracy by 50% out to 5 days by 2018.
3) Extending the lead time for hurricane forecasts out to 7 days.
4) Reducing the false alarm rate for rapid intensity forecasts.
5) Increasing the probability of detection of rapid intensification.

Another great way to boost hurricane research funding would be to put more money into NOAA's Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT) project. This $1 million per year program has funded 50 separate hurricane research efforts over since 2001, 30 of which have been adopted operationally by the National Hurricane Center. Examples of successful JHT projects include the successful integration of the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) surface wind measurement instrument into NHC operations; improvements to the GFDL and HWRF computer models; and improving techniques to make a "consensus" forecast based on the output of our four best computer models. However, no new money for JHT has been proposed in the FY 2010 budget, though some of the money earmarked for HFIP may flow into JHT.

A new $50 million hurricane research center proposed
Instead, a new proposal for hurricane research funding has been championed by Representative Alan Grayson, D-Florida. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Grayson is pushing for a new $50 million hurricane research center to be built in Orlando. He demanded that such a hurricane research center be built in exchange for his vote for the controversial climate change bill passed Friday by the U.S. House, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. There is no language in the actual bill authorizing funds for such a center--Grayson merely has the word of democratic lawmakers, including President Obama, that such a center would be built. "I think it's a very worthwhile project. I look forward to working on it and making it a priority as the legislative process moves along," said U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who sponsored the bill, in the Orlando Sentinel article. The center could be constructed with funds aimed at helping states "study and adapt to climate change," money that would not be available until 2012 at the earliest. The hurricane center is "among the type of activities that would be eligible to receive funding," Waxman said. "We've never had anything [like this] come into this district before, ever," said Grayson, a freshman lawmaker. "This will be the world-leading facility for hurricane research. This will draw people from all over the world."

Well, I have championed efforts to give more funding to hurricane research over the years, and I think the $300 million per year in funding for the National Hurricane Research Initiative proposed in 2007 by the President's National Science Board is what is needed. However, I think Grayson's proposed new hurricane center is a bad idea. Florida already has a world-leading facility for hurricane research, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key, and does not need another. The U.S. hurricane research community has an infrastructure in place that works, and the best way to foster hurricane research is to pump money into this existing infrastructure. I talked with a number of senior hurricane research scientists about the idea of a new hurricane research center, and none of them supported it. It's great that Rep. Grayson's wants to put new much-needed funding into hurricane research, but he didn't consult with the experts to see if a new research center was a good way to do this. It isn't. Where are all of the scientists needed to staff such a center going to come from? Presumably, they will be drawn from existing successful research teams, leading to the disruption of these proven research efforts. Adding a new national research center with a new bureaucracy with new management needing on-the-job training will dilute and distract from current hurricane research efforts, and is not a good way to spend $50 million. Several senior hurricane research scientists are going to be reaching out to Rep. Grayson over the next few months to make him more aware of the abilities and needs of the hurricane research community. Hopefully, these efforts will result in a more productive way for the Congressman to boost hurricane research. If you live in Rep. Grayson's district, I recommend you contact him to express your desire to see him champion a more effective way to boost hurricane research than with his proposed $50 million hurricane research center. Putting the $50 million into the National Hurricane Research Initiative (HFIP) effort would be a better use of the funds. To his credit, Rep. Grayson is a co-sponsor of the National Hurricane Research Initiative of 2009 (H.R. 327), a bill introduced into the House of Representatives on January 8, 2009. This bill is a lesser ($150 million per year) version of the $300 million per year National Hurricane Research Initiative proposed in 2007 by the President's National Science Board.

Good links for HFIP information are at:

http://www.nrc.noaa.gov/HFIPDraftPlan.html
http://www.dtcenter.org/plots/hrh_test/workshop20 09/presentations/1_Gall_HRH%20HFIP%20presentation. pdf

Some summaries of recent HFIP activities in the last year are at:

http://www.dtcenter.org/plots/hrh_test/index.php
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/research/tropical _cyclones/hfip/workshop_2009/

My next post will be Friday, when I'll have the first half of July hurricane outlook.

Jeff Masters

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Taz, yea I stated earlier that westerly anomalies in the equatorial pacific and warming of the sub-surface are indicating El Nino conditions. The SOI has sustain negative values for a while with a recent spike.

The cool surface waters some are noticing is the Humboldt current which is enhanced during the SH winter.







Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Tazmanian:
any one seen this yet weather 456 any one???




Yeah I've seen it too. It's a little weird that they're still saying things like "50% chance of El Nino".....it's already here.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting Weather456:


I gues he was looking at the iosbars. God to North America wise on map and select mslp for september.


Yeah it does look like a stronger surface ridge, but if you view the 500mb for the same map it still shows a mean trough over the eastern US with ridging over Texas. That is not really a favorable pattern for storms approaching the east coast from the east. I guess we'll see.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
any one seen this yet weather 456 any one???


Quoting Tazmanian:
El Nino will be here sooner then you think may be with in weeks or sooner



SYDNEY (Reuters) – An El Nino weather pattern this year appears almost certain, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said on Wednesday in a revised forecast, raising the prospect of drought in Australia and a even weaker monsoon in India.

The odds for El Nino, an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region, had risen significantly since two weeks ago, when the bureau said there was a more than 50 percent chance.

"El Nino is a little bit like recession, you are in it before you can say you have one. If it continues as it is now, the historians will say the El Nino started in May," said David Jones, head of the bureau's climate analysis, told Reuters.

He said they could declare a full El Nino within weeks.

That's probably bad news for farmers in Australia who have sown near record acreage, and in India, which is already bracing for below-average monsoon rains, the lifeblood of the country's agriculture.

It would also have implications for commodity markets, potentially lifting wheat prices that have slumped over the past month on expectations of a bumper global harvest, and adding further fuel to soaring sugar prices that are already bracing for a second disappointing crop year from top consumer India.

Most of Australia's 2009/10 wheat crop has been planted following plentiful rain, leading to forecasts of a harvest of as much as 23 million tonnes, the best since 2005/06 when 25.2 million tonnes were harvested.

"The growers I speak to say if we were to get some rains in spring we could get above average yields. But if the El Nino forecast materialized, we are again at risk of having a sub-standard crop," said Richard Koch, managing director of farm advisory firm Profarmer.

Australia's grain production is still recovering from the worst drought in more than 100 years that cut the annual wheat harvest to as little as 10.6 million tonnes in 2006/07.

India's weather office last week cut its forecast for the June-September monsoon rains by 3 percentage points to 93 percent of normal, after four years of above average rainfall. From June 1 to June 24 rains were 54 percent below normal.

A severe El Nino spawns searing drought in countries in southeast Asia, harming rubber production, while causing heavy flooding in Peru, Ecuador and Chile, among others.

LITTLE CHANCE OF AVOIDING EL NINO

The bureau's latest report found that the eastern Pacific Ocean was continuing to warm, with sea temperatures one degree Celsius above normal, and trade winds were continuing to weaken.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), calculated from monthly and seasonal fluctuations in air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin, remained at around negative 2, while the monthly value for May was negative 5.

A sustained negative SOI often indicates El Nino.

"A more complete picture of the situation in the Pacific will be available next week when the final June indices are calculated," said the report on http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

The next report is due on July 8.

The Climate Prediction Center in the United States said in June that conditions were favorable for a switch to El Nino conditions during June to August.
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422. beell
LOL!!!
I still will follow and consider the DAM model in any event. Thanks for the cordial response.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


I did. It told me basically nothing it just has the typical Azores high pressure center. What I really need is anomalies but I'm not yet accustomed to analyzing seasonal forecasts and therefore don't have the sources.

Storm said there was forecast to be more of a high near the east Coast in August or something. I may have misunderstood him but I'm pretty sure that's what he said the CFS was forecasting.


I guess he was looking at the isobars. Go to North America wide on map and select mslp for september.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting beell:
Whoa, I remember the DAM model on board with no development-across the BOC. Then the DAM model went with the consensus track across FL-conservative on development. Then the DAM model switched back to the westward track-conservative on development.

Fair grade on posts regarding developmentbut "it"-got suckered on track like the rest of us.

Yes?



That DAM model proposed an objective view. The DAM said if it intensified it would go eastward. If it stayed weak it would go west.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
418. beell
Whoa, I remember the DAM model on board with no development-across the BOC. Then the DAM model went with the consensus track across FL-conservative on development. Then the DAM model switched back to the westward track-conservative on development.

Fair grade on posts regarding development but "it"-got suckered on track like the rest of us.

Yes?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
El Nino will be here sooner then you think may be with in weeks or sooner



SYDNEY (Reuters) – An El Nino weather pattern this year appears almost certain, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said on Wednesday in a revised forecast, raising the prospect of drought in Australia and a even weaker monsoon in India.

The odds for El Nino, an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region, had risen significantly since two weeks ago, when the bureau said there was a more than 50 percent chance.

"El Nino is a little bit like recession, you are in it before you can say you have one. If it continues as it is now, the historians will say the El Nino started in May," said David Jones, head of the bureau's climate analysis, told Reuters.

He said they could declare a full El Nino within weeks.

That's probably bad news for farmers in Australia who have sown near record acreage, and in India, which is already bracing for below-average monsoon rains, the lifeblood of the country's agriculture.

It would also have implications for commodity markets, potentially lifting wheat prices that have slumped over the past month on expectations of a bumper global harvest, and adding further fuel to soaring sugar prices that are already bracing for a second disappointing crop year from top consumer India.

Most of Australia's 2009/10 wheat crop has been planted following plentiful rain, leading to forecasts of a harvest of as much as 23 million tonnes, the best since 2005/06 when 25.2 million tonnes were harvested.

"The growers I speak to say if we were to get some rains in spring we could get above average yields. But if the El Nino forecast materialized, we are again at risk of having a sub-standard crop," said Richard Koch, managing director of farm advisory firm Profarmer.

Australia's grain production is still recovering from the worst drought in more than 100 years that cut the annual wheat harvest to as little as 10.6 million tonnes in 2006/07.

India's weather office last week cut its forecast for the June-September monsoon rains by 3 percentage points to 93 percent of normal, after four years of above average rainfall. From June 1 to June 24 rains were 54 percent below normal.

A severe El Nino spawns searing drought in countries in southeast Asia, harming rubber production, while causing heavy flooding in Peru, Ecuador and Chile, among others.

LITTLE CHANCE OF AVOIDING EL NINO

The bureau's latest report found that the eastern Pacific Ocean was continuing to warm, with sea temperatures one degree Celsius above normal, and trade winds were continuing to weaken.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), calculated from monthly and seasonal fluctuations in air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin, remained at around negative 2, while the monthly value for May was negative 5.

A sustained negative SOI often indicates El Nino.

"A more complete picture of the situation in the Pacific will be available next week when the final June indices are calculated," said the report on http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

The next report is due on July 8.

The Climate Prediction Center in the United States said in June that conditions were favorable for a switch to El Nino conditions during June to August.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:


Try sea level pressure


I did. It told me basically nothing it just has the typical Azores high pressure center. What I really need is anomalies but I'm not yet accustomed to analyzing seasonal forecasts and therefore don't have the sources.

Storm said there was forecast to be more of a high near the east Coast in August or something. I may have misunderstood him but I'm pretty sure that's what he said the CFS was forecasting.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting hurricaneseason2006:
Weather456, my brother, you have reputation to uphold. Do not let Drak bring it down. He is jealous of you and Levi and has shown it many times, even when Dr. Masters recommended you.


Very true and will do.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Yeah 456, what they said. You have a good reputation. Don't mess it up.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Sorry, I can't stop my fingers under the circumstances :)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


I never can find the pressure forecasts for the Bermuda High position from the CFS but I looked at the 500mb height means on the Pro site and they seem to point at a US east coast trough for the entire season, which is contrary to what StormW said the forecast was.


Go to the forecast models page, click CFS and point to sea level pressure. Don't forget to change the "choose map" to Atlantic.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Weather456:


True, but it's a long-range model so I would not be surprise. But it possesses some forecast skill in the near term.


I never can find the pressure forecasts for the Bermuda High position from the CFS but I looked at the 500mb height means on the Pro site and they seem to point at a US east coast trough for the entire season, which is contrary to what StormW said the forecast was.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricane2009:


No storms to track is why, the holier-than-thou attitude crap has got to go on here though


Yeah its one of the reasons I don't post as much as I have in the past.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting txalwaysprepared:
Just got the call from the city... mandatory water rationing. Only two days a week and only btwn the hours of 11pm-4am. Beautiful.


The Woodlands announced the same thing yesterday. Tues/Sat and Thurs/Sun (forget which is odds and which is evens).

I honestly have a feeling it is going to get worse before it gets better. This pattern is looking to start getting re-entrenched, and getting pretty comfy over Texas.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


When I look back at CFS Seasonal Forecast Verification more times than not it does not appear that accurate. I looked for verification on shear, but was unable to find it.


That is why I say that those 6 month CFS shear forecasts are not reliable.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


When I look back at CFS Seasonal Forecast Verification more times than not it does not appear that accurate. I looked for verification on shear, but was unable to find it.


True, but it's a long-range model so I would not be surprise. But it possesses some forecast skill in the near term.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Everybody is cranky today.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting Weather456:
The new CFS model on pro accu show maximum cloud cover and rainfall over the Western Caribbean, Eastern Gulf, FL, and East Atlantic for July with little over the Eastern Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. I guess the eastern Caribbean islands will have another dry month.


When I look back at CFS Seasonal Forecast Verification more times than not it does not appear that accurate. I looked for verification on shear, but was unable to find it.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11341
Quoting Drakoen:

Yet some how your always here to point that out.

LMAO, no, I'm rarely here for reasons such as this; but, when I do peek in, this is the kind of immature crap I see.

Touche' Drak - you've the last word as usual, smartass!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
Shear anomalies. Blue unfavorable. Red favorable.


High shear south of 20N in the deep tropics and low shear north of 20N. That looks to be the trend this season, which is typical of an El Nino pattern.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
As far as individual storm prospects for cyclogenesis, I don't put much faith in any forecast outside of a two week time period at most.CFS shear forecast looks overdone.

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Quoting Weather456:


You do. I get my fat pay check at the end of the month regardless.


Good for you.
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Quoting Drakoen:


LOL! Don't flatter yourself. I can do whatever I want.


You do. I get my fat pay check at the end of the month regardless.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
...all must be quiet in the tropics - same ol' boring bickering and yak, same ol' pissin' contests! ENJOY kids!

Yet some how your always here to point that out.
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Quoting Weather456:


lol, kettle calling the pot black. Everytime you on here you cause some kind of drama. You never could could discuss the topic without pointing out someone flaws sarcastically. And further more I was not intending to intiate any arguments with hurricane23, I was point out a observation.


Yea a ridiculous observation...

Again its his or her responsibility to know your vulnerability to tropical cyclones if you live in a hurricane prone area.Ive always stressed no matter what the predictions call for one must always prepare the same way you did the previous season.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
...all must be quiet in the tropics - same ol' boring bickering and yak, same ol' pissin' contests! ENJOY kids!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


Don't let the W456's drama get to you lol. You're getting baited.


lol, kettle calling the pot black. Everytime you on here you cause some kind of drama. You never could could discuss the topic without pointing out someone flaws sarcastically. And further more I was not intending to intiate any arguments with hurricane23, I was point out an observation.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Shear anomalies. Blue unfavorable. Red favorable.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:
The mew CFS model on pro accu show maximum cloud cover and rainfall over the Western Caribbean, Eastern Gulf, FL, and East Atlantic for July with little over the Eastern Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. I guess the eastern Caribbean islands will have another dry month.


That makes sense with the very strong trades coming through the Caribbean for the next few weeks.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700

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