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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133. JRRP
Quoting tornadofan:


Are my eyes fooling me, or is the blue below the equator expanding westward?
Quoting RitaEvac:


Waters are cooling in the eastern Pacific

mmmm i think EL NIO is developing very slowly
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or the dust
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Quoting hurricane23:
No need to look into the eastern atlantic (african coast) as cooler then normal sst's/dust are plaguing the area. Dont see much CV action this year in all honesty.

Adrian


I know that there is SAL there now but isn't there less this year than normal? I think the good doctor posted a blog on that recently. jc thanks!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Quoting jasoniscoolman09:
wow that wave off the african coast looks pretty good coming out of africa??????


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/eumet/eatl/vis-l.jpg


If this holds together for another 24 hrs then this thing has a pretty good chance of development. If this fizzles out then obviously it won't develop. Keep in mind though pretty much the only thing that is going to get in the way of this disturbance is the SAL.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Waters are cooling in the eastern Pacific


I see it too... does it mean anything?
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
No need to look into the eastern atlantic (african coast) as cooler then normal sst's/dust are plaguing the area. Dont see much CV action this year in all honesty.

Adrian
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Quoting JRRP:


Waters are cooling in the eastern Pacific
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Quoting JRRP:


Are my eyes fooling me, or is the blue below the equator expanding westward?
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Quoting futuremet:
ECMWF 3D


Nice link. Thanks.
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I hear thats a Fine School.

Dau going to LSU in Fall,Dominican Grad.

Yes were Uptown,near Jefferson and Magazine.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Patrap,

I'm a geography/oceanography student at LSU. DOCS also now offers an undergrad in Coastal and Environmental Sciences. As well as an oceanography minor, which I'm working on.

Off topic, but are you in Uptown? I live in Slidell.
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ECMWF Quasi-3D output
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...or Hiking in Argentina.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
120. JRRP
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Quoting presslord:
MLC...it's really not so much bribery...public policy (politics) is the Art of the Possible...the trick here is going to be finding out who the Congressman is listening to so that we can specifically refute their contentions...

Press, sure it's bribery. Otherwise, he would vote on the merits of the bill itself. He'll support a "bad bill" if it helps his construction buddy who contributes to his campaign, wines and dines him, loads him up with women, trips, boats...on and on. I don't guess it's bad work if you can get it, huh? LOL, yeah, it's bribery! Graft and corruption of the truest kind!
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Thanks for the response Levi!!! i am quite a novice but am learning so much from you guys! thanks for all your hard work!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
so we went from below average temps to above average temps already this season...

Levi, 456, or anyone else... will the warming Atlantic/ Gulf have an effect on the el nino?


Not really...El Nino doesn't mean that all of the Atlantic will be colder than normal, and its the Atlantic that responds to ENSO, not the other way around. There is still quite a bit of cold in the eastern Caribbean and the MDR, and it's not unusual to see a warm Gulf of Mexico during El Nino. The equatorial Pacific is still warmer than the Atlantic relative to normal, so it's not going to change the global pattern, but with these SSTs a little warmer than expected in the Atlantic it obviously increases the chances of more named storms.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566

The Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences (DOCS) at LSU provides unique graduate-level M.S. and Ph.D. programs that focus on ecological and oceanographic processes extending from the coastal zone to the deep ocean.


DOCS is a component of the School of the Coast and Environment (SC&E). Our department contains four research institutes that reflect our strengths in the fields of coastal ecology, coastal fisheries, wetland soils and vegetation, and physical and geological oceanography.

Our department is interested in recruiting highly qualified graduate students who can benefit from our interdisciplinary perspectives. The overarching theme of our graduate courses and research is understanding and predicting ecological changes across gradients that extend from coastal areas across the continental shelf. DOCS graduate students benefit from academic and research programs that draw from faculty expertise in physical, biological, geological and chemical oceanography and ecology.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
so we went from below average temps to above average temps already this season...

Levi, 456, or anyone else... will the warming Atlantic/ Gulf have an effect on the el nino?
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837

Image above: In this photo taken June 24 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, work continues on removing the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate on space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank. Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
View Hi-Rez

Tank Test Complete: No Leaks Detected
Wed, 01 Jul 2009 09:19:13 AM CDT

Space shuttle Endeavour's tanking test officially began at 6:52 a.m. EDT at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. No abnormal gaseous hydrogen leaks were detected during the test, which involved filling Endeavour's external fuel tank with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen just as it is on launch day.


At about 9 a.m., the liquid hydrogen tank was 98 percent full and the "topping" mode began. A vent valve at the top of the hydrogen tank began cycling, as planned, to disperse excess gaseous Hydrogen through a vent system that carries it safely away from the launch pad. At that point during two June launch attempts, a gaseous hydrogen leak was detected outside the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, where the vent line is attached.

NASA Television will air a news conference at 1 p.m. with Space Shuttle Program Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses and STS-127 Launch Director Pete Nickolenko. Watch it live at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
SSTs in the Gulf of Mexico are running 2 degrees above normal. Also notice the warm anomalies off the SE US coast.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566
Congressman Grayson's own press release:

GRAYSON FIGHTS FOR ENERGY BILL FUNDING
June 26, 2009 7:15 PM
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Alan Grayson fought for and obtained a commitment for a new National Hurricane Research Center in Orlando today. The $50 million commitment from the leadership in the House of Representatives is one of several reasons why the Congressman supports the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Congressman Grayson said, “With this one move, Central Florida will become a world leader in 21st century meteorology.”

Congressman Grayson fought hard for the federal funding. Grayson personally spoke with President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about his request. During a speech on the floor of the House today, Grayson said, “Damages from hurricanes in terms of human lives, infrastructure, and property, have grown in scope and cost, and it is critical that we continue to make progress in furthering our understanding of the science behind hurricanes. Doing so will ultimately help vulnerable communities in my district, in Florida, and elsewhere in the United States prepare for, and reduce the impacts from, hurricanes.”
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Since SSTs are not supporting anything, they have nothing to do but warm

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Levi and Patrap,

true
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Patrap:

Atlantic Ocean View (Updated ~3 hours)

I like the every 3 Hours look for synoptic changes,easier to see the trends and less repetitive.

Too much is too much sometimes.


Same here. I like long-term loops for general pattern analysis, and for those you don't need rapid-scan every 15 minutes.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566
"And furthermore, with a quarter century of experience in how the Government spends its money, Alan can help to direct more of that money to Central Florida, where we need it."

from Congressman Grayson's website...
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Atlantic Ocean View (Updated ~3 hours)

I like the every 3 Hours look for synoptic changes,easier to see the trends and less repetitive.

Too much is too much sometimes.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Quoting Weather456:
I don't know why some people use the African imagery at the SSD or CIMSS. They update every 6 hrs which is not very useful. If you look at the wave off Africa on those imagery, it shows convection along the wave and when you look at a more recent image like the one at the NRL, convection is almost gone.


Most people don't know about the more up to date images available.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566
102. JRRP
Quoting Weather456:
I don't why some people use the African imagery at the SSD or CIMSS. They update every 6 hrs which is not very useful. If you look at the wave off Africa on those imagery, it shows convection along the wave and when you look at a more recent image like the one at the NRL, convection is almost gone.

Link
Link
see you later
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I don't know why some people use the African imagery at the SSD or CIMSS. They update every 6 hrs which is not very useful. If you look at the wave off Africa on those imagery, it shows convection along the wave and when you look at a more recent image like the one at the NRL, convection is almost gone.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Weather456,

The wave does look good on satellite, however
would you agree?
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Quoting cg2916:

See for yourself.


Wow, looks like 2 very intense storms
Thank you
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98. JRRP
i remember that Dean developed with lot of dust as well
if i am not wrong
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Quoting Weather456:


Development if any should be implicated by dust. Shear is favorable.


It even has a comma shape.
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Hey, Weather456, want to go to chat, I have some questions.
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95. JRRP
Quoting Weather456:


Yep, it comes as no surprise:

This remained below normal for June with about 2-3 dust outbreaks recorded during the month. A weaker African Easterly Jet (AEJ) over Africa contributed to weaker tropical waves, and as we saw in my May 31 blog entry, tropical waves are responsible for helping the dust propagate from West Africa into the Tropical Atlantic. Above average rainfall over Sahel also contributed to lower dust levels, which defied my seasonal forecast. The same pattern is expected to continue into July but with waves becoming more frequent and stronger, I expect a little more dust this month than June, remaining below normal however.

The three last waves are responsible for this dust.

very explicit
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Quoting AllStar17:
What about the wave west of that big dust cloud, any chance there for development?


Development if any should be implicated by dust. Shear is favorable.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting AllStar17:
What about the wave west of that big dust cloud, any chance there for development?


Probably not. SST aren't really favorable until 55W and it is my understanding the the Colombia Heat Low would create unfavorable conditions in the Caribbean. Watch it when it gets into the EPAC...that's when you'll likely see development.

EDIT: I didn't take a look at the recent SST which look marginally favorable for development...and look even warmer west of 45W not 55W. Still conditions will likely be unfavorable in the Caribbean.
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Quoting AllStar17:


What is it indicating?

See for yourself.
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Quoting Seastep:


Which is the way it ought to be.

Fed govt was set up for reps to convene PART TIME and then go back to their normal civilian job.

Oh well, not so anymore.


Yup....citizen lawmakers...
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Flooding is now being reported in Sarasota too. We've also got another round of rain coming through Tampa. They are showing pictures of flooded homes and cars on tv now.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting Levi32:


In that same image look at all the dust to the north and west of it. All that mirky-looking stuff, it's an insane amount of dust and dry air. All those waves coming off don't have a chance while it's there. It's the end of the game for them as soon as they hit that cloud.



Yep, it comes as no surprise:

This remained below normal for June with about 2-3 dust outbreaks recorded during the month. A weaker African Easterly Jet (AEJ) over Africa contributed to weaker tropical waves, and as we saw in my May 31 blog entry, tropical waves are responsible for helping the dust propagate from West Africa into the Tropical Atlantic. Above average rainfall over Sahel also contributed to lower dust levels, which defied my seasonal forecast. The same pattern is expected to continue into July but with waves becoming more frequent and stronger, I expect a little more dust this month than June, remaining below normal however.

The three last waves are responsible for this dust.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting cg2916:
WOW, the ECMWF is being VERY agressive with the Pacific.


What is it indicating?
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Quoting AllStar17:
What about the wave west of that big dust cloud, any chance there for development?

Not really.
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What about the wave west of that big dust cloud, any chance there for development?
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WOW, the ECMWF is being VERY agressive with the Pacific.
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Primary Sources logo
Excerpts from Poor Richard's Almanack by Benjamin Franklin—Almanac

In the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin published a yearly book, called an almanac, containing many kinds of practical information. Franklin included in his almanacs short, catchy sayings that stated a truth. Below are some of these sayings.
Primary Source

“Well done is better than well said.“

“The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.“

“If you'd have a Servant that you like, serve your self.“

“The noblest question in the world is What Good may I do in it?“

“Have you somewhat to do to-morrow; do it to-day.“

“He that sows thorns, should not go barefoot.“

“He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night.“

“By diligence and patience, the mouse bit in two the cable.“

“It is better to take many Injuries than to give one.“

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.“

“Great Modesty often hides great Merit.“

“You may delay, but Time will not.“

“Half the Truth is often a great Lie.“
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Quoting Seastep:
$3.5 billion... now THAT is some serious pork. :)

Link
and politics at its finest.
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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.