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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I usually see a gator or two getting a tan across the street from my house on the banks of my pond.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
"More alligators! (and ferrets, and beavers, and snakes...)
Recessions mean less disposable income, which means that you don't have as much money to spend on ridiculous discrentionary items like, say, hand bags made out of alligator skin. Such is the quandary facing Savoie's Alligator Farm in Louisiana, which in May hadn't sold a hide since November. Fortunately for all animals at risk of becoming pelts or luggage, the recession has been merciful."
Source: Link
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Big blow up of convection north of Costa Rica and Panama

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Quoting AllStar17:
Is the area in the Gulf of any interest?


No, but I'm glad that people are noticing it, because fronts in the Gulf of Mexico are things to be watched. In this case the upper trough is digging in and creating a baroclinic zone that is driving all the moisture and energy away to the NE. Basically the energy is getting funneled away from the tail-end of the front and not allowing it to consolidate enough to form a tropical low.
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Quoting CaneWarning:


Interesting. I guess I've just always assumed they were alligators.

That article says also there was one in SC...but they hate the cold.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
Quoting CaneWarning:


Its a bow echo. I wouldn't be shocked if the area gets high winds with that.
I'm sitting right now at Howard Park watching it come in. Beautiful view


Looks like the storm has weakened just a little bit. Not as much thunder as 15 minutes ago. Not bowing as much either.


Yeah it looks more like a blob of heavy rain now.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9718547


here ya go.


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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

Umm crocs are all over south Fl...they have been here thousands of years...Link


Interesting. I guess I've just always assumed they were alligators... The link says there are about 1200. Not very many.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
crocs thrive down by the nuclear plant down there. I'll find a link.

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Quoting CaneWarning:


According to Wiki they can go into salt water but they cant live in it. It also says crocs can live in salt water, but I've never heard of a croc in Florida.

Umm crocs are all over south Fl...they have been here thousands of years...Link
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Do we now have a "weak" El Nino?

We've had a weak El Nino for a while now. It may get to to a low-end "moderate" as they call it but it shouldn't be too strong or long-lasting, as it's just a reaction to the overall downward PDO pattern (the long-term pattern that gives more cold or warm epsidodes in a 30-year period depending on what phase it's in)
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thanks Sonny...

;)
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

They can survive in saltwater, plus crocs are moving farther N into central Fl Link


According to Wiki they can go into salt water but they cant live in it. It also says crocs can live in salt water, but I've never heard of a croc in Florida.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting NRAamy:
Do we now have a "weak" El Nino?

Chris Farley would say "No!"....

THE NINO

Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Th'ain't nuthin happening right now...
Check out link re: El Nino conditions as of June 18th...
Link
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Fantastic day out in the Louisiana swamps on an air boat.
Saw alligators, egrets and a coypu(nutria).
Many thanks to Harrie M. for organizing it and all the Shell staff who made the 2 weeks workshop most enjoyable.

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241. aspectre

NWS got their new computer(s). Status:

Dan Starosta reported on the status of the new Power-6 machines (cirrus and stratus). Cirrus is running well and all codes have been migrated. Recent facilities work at Gathersberg, MD (where stratus is being installed) have also gone well. The computer moratorium is scheduled, per the IBM contract, to end no later than October of 2009. The current thinking is it will most likely end towards the end of July, but the specific date is dependent on the length of acceptance testing for Stratus. Once the moratorium ends, the HWRF implementation will occur (updated GSI for initial and boundary conditions, scripting updates, and restart capability), followed by the SREF and GEFS implementations (see below).


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Quoting CaneWarning:


I live on the bay though and I don't think they can survive in salt water. Since I'm on an island there's really no way for one to get here unless it is by boat, car or plane!

They can survive in saltwater, plus crocs are moving farther N into central Fl Link
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Do we now have a "weak" El Nino?

Chris Farley would say "No!"....
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Is the area in the Gulf of any interest?
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Do we now have a "weak" El Nino?

"The existence of an El Niņo or La Niņa also significantly impacts the seasonal tropical cyclone activity in the Alantic. Generally, an El Niņo in the tropical Pacific will limit activity in the Atlantic and vice versa for a La Niņa. Despite the existence of a weak El Nino beginning in August 2004, the lack of a (Pacific) basin-wide structure to the El Niņo led to the delayed onset of Atlantic teleconnections, permitting the above average activity to continue through the season.

Of primary importance in this Atlantic hurricane season then, was the continuation of the active phase of the Altantic multi-decadal signal, including above average SSTs. (I think we may be looking at this...)

Impacts of 2004 Season:
Nine tropical systems affected the US during 2004. The estimated cost of damage to the US from hurricanes and tropical storms in 2004 is over $42 billion. This is the most costly hurricane season ever for the US, with the second most costly, at $35 billion, being 1992, the year that Hurricane Andrew impacted Florida."

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Quoting NRAamy:
say what??? You had one of those on your neighbor's door????


Yep sure was, largest relocation effort I participated in was 12'6". The neighbors was only 6'. I do have a wunderpic on my blog of me and a 12'er. L8R
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
61 Ossqss "...they should allocate any funds in this arena [for a new hurricane research center, I assume] towards a new QuikScat ( maybe 2). The value of that far exceeds anything else discussed or proposed. That value will become very apparent, once it stops functioning"

1) The launch cost for one replacement easily exceeds 50$million dollars. Launch cost plus replacement satellite easily exceeds $300million.

2) You are running into the same political buzzsaw that got BillProenza fired from the directorship of the NHC. The problem with scientific instruments is that they can be used for more than one purpose.
While the QuikSCAT is useful for monitoring weather, the readings generated while making those measurements were also used to measure glacial ice thickness. And the results ran into Congressional opposition toward quantifying any ClimateChange that could be used to support the AnthropogenicGlobalWarming theory.

Same thing happened to getting a new supercomputer for the NationalWeatherService (or perhaps NOAA): the original funding bill was killed cuz a more powerful weather modeler would also have been highly useful for climate modeling.
Last I read of it, there was an attempt to authorize the project with an amendment of "Thou shalt NOT use the weather computer for generating climate predictions." Anybody hear more recent news about it?
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2004 Continued...
July
The first tropical system of the Atlantic season formed approximately 175 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina on July 31st. Tropical Depression One was initially poorly organized and did not show signs of significant intensification. However, the storm became Hurricane Alex during the first few days of August...
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Quoting Ossqss:


Never say never. Had one of these senarios right next door at 3am a couple years ago. And they called me for help ! I called animal control, since I had no active permit at the time, and let them handle things. They will be moving around now that the water level has expanded for them.



I live on the bay though and I don't think they can survive in salt water. Since I'm on an island there's really no way for one to get here unless it is by boat, car or plane!
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
we get brown bears jumping into spas and swimming pools once in awhile, but that's it....ok, the occasional mountain lion takes a chomp out of a jogger...
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Loving the reptile pictures! Especially my 3yr old
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Quoting CaneWarning:


Its a bow echo. I wouldn't be shocked if the area gets high winds with that.
I'm sitting right now at Howard Park watching it come in. Beautiful view
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3616
say what??? You had one of those on your neighbor's door????
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I believe we only had Invests (2) in June, despite what anyone wants to say they were. With no LLC, it's an Invest, sorry boys.

"June"
No tropical storms or hurricanes developed in June 2004. This is not unusual, with 50% of all Junes in the long-term record registering no tropical activity. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were near average across the tropical Atlantic, though above average in a broad band across the North Atlantic from Spain to Florida. Climatologically, if tropical activity occurs in June, it is most likely in the western Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico or far western Atlantic along the U.S. east coast."


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252. IKE
Nice and cool tomorrow....

Thursday
Partly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of a shower or thunderstorm in the afternoon. Highs 96 to 100. West winds 10 to 15 mph.


But a cool down on Friday....Highs 95 to 99.
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Quoting CaneWarning:


At least I don't have to worry about those.


Never say never. Had one of these senarios right next door at 3am a couple years ago. And they called me for help ! I called animal control, since I had no active permit at the time, and let them handle things. They will be moving around now that the water level has expanded for them.

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
Quoting Acemmett90:

creeper than my shaq pic lol


Nah, your Shaq pic scares me every time I see it.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting Chicklit:
I think Jeff Masters has enough clout that his voice will be heard in Washington, at least one would hope so since his blog is featured on the New York Times website!

By the way, the first 2004 named storm wasn't until July 31st....Link


Yeah, and we all remember how 2004 was a bust...
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting clwstmchasr:
Big storm about to move on shore in northern Pinellas county. I live in Oldsmar and can hear the thunder coming from the west.


Its a bow echo. I wouldn't be shocked if the area gets high winds with that.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
I think Jeff Masters has enough clout that his voice will be heard in Washington, at least one would hope so since his blog is featured on the New York Times website!

By the way, the first 2004 named storm wasn't until July 31st....Link
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There is a bow echo forming and its just off the coast.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
take care all ...see you in the morning. I'm off work now
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Quoting IKE:
I've got 99.0 outside and my thermometer is in the shade.


It's actually only 80 here.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
46 Patrap "The LSU Earth Scan Lab does a Boatload of Hurricane Research already,with State,private funding.
No need to outlay more Fed funds.
"

Plus it's a LOT easier to fire someone for delivering news ya don't want the public to hear.

51 Patrap "The Canadian Politicians call it "Canadian Bacon" I hear."
52 Orcasystems "ROFLMAO, I would agree if we had the money, we might do it also. Hard to spend what you do not have."
54 Cane Warning "No it isn't - Americans do it all the time!"

Bankers do it all the time. The total amount of monetary reserves (ie cash on hand) is miniscule compared to the amount of money being cycled through the world economy. The difference between the two is all "spending money you don't have".
And after ya shovel through all the BS to get down to the fundamentals, such monetization is nearly the sole function of the banking system.
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240. IKE
I've got 99.0 outside and my thermometer is in the shade.
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nice...

;)
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238. IKE
Quoting SpicyAngel1072:
can I ask why I see posts with the Nexrad instead of the wundermap?

I usually watch the wundermap...


What is the wundermap? If those radars I posted are slowing your computer down, tell me and I'll edit them.

Oh yeah, Casey Anthony is guilty as heII.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Some of the critters are happy with the rain. We still need it, just not all at once :)




At least I don't have to worry about those.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Some of the critters are happy with the rain. We still need it, just not all at once :)


Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
can I ask why I see posts with the Nexrad instead of the wundermap?

I usually watch the wundermap...
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234. IKE
Quoting SpicyAngel1072:
IKE

It looks like on the map we have a bubble around us


Here ya go....

"AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
259 PM EDT WED JUL 1 2009

.DISCUSSION...

TONIGHT...CHALLENGING POP FCST. JAX SOUNDING SHOWS SIGNIFICANT DRY
AIR IN THE MID LEVELS
AND ALTHOUGH THE LATE MORNING CAPE SOUNDING
REMAINS VERY MOIST...THINK THE MID LEVEL DRY AIR IS WORKING ITS
WAY SOUTHWARD INTO OUR NORTHERN SECTIONS. CONVECTION CONTINUES TO
FAVOR THE FL GULF COAST AND SHOWS DIFFICULTY SPREADING ACROSS THE
PENINSULA. HIGH OVERCAST IS LIMITING HEATING BUT SOME AREAS HAVE
WARMED INTO THE MID 80S. THERE ARE INDICATIONS CONVECTION IS
TRYING TO REGENERATE ACROSS SEMINOLE AND VOLUSIA BUT WITH NO
SYNOPTIC OR MESOSCALE BOUNDARIES TO WORK ON...THINK COVERAGE MAY
BE LESS THAN MOS IS SUGGESTING. THINK THE BEST CHANCE FOR
SHOWERS AND STORMS INTO TONIGHT WILL BE ACROSS SOUTHERN SECTIONS.
EVEN HERE...HAVE SHOWN A TREND TO SLIGHT CHANCE AFTER MIDNIGHT.
BUT LIKE THE LAST COUPLE NIGHTS...COULD SEE A RESURGENCE OF
CONVECTION MOVING ONSHORE THE GULF COAST AND INTO EC FL AROUND
SUNRISE."
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IKE

It looks like on the map we have a bubble around us
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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