New $50 million hurricane research center: a bad idea

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

Share this Blog
3
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 833 - 783

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19Blog Index

Quoting TexasHurricane:
Just wondering what anyones thoughts are of Texas getting a tropical storm/hurricane this year? We had to evacuate for Rita (05) and Ike (08). Rita hit closer to home than ike but ike was just so huge that we had to evacuate for it as well.....just curious.


The risk for Texas is large any year, and you should always be prepared. This year with storms tending to form closer to home most land areas have an increased risk of having a storm make landfall in their area, including the Gulf of Mexico, and the gulf waters are very warm this year.

Bottom line: ALWAYS be ready for being hit, EVERY year.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Interesting feature in the North Atlantic. This is currently a shallow warm-core and non frontal feature



Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting TexasHurricane:
Just wondering what anyones thoughts are of Texas getting a tropical storm/hurricane this year? We had to evacuate for Rita (05) and Ike (08). Rita hit closer to home than ike but ike was just so huge that we had to evacuate for it as well.....just curious.


where you from in texas?
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
It may be quiet here in the North Caribbean, but I can tell you that we have had no turtles laying there eggs on the beaches thus far and last year they started in late May. Fisherman say it is a sign of a big storm this year...will have to see how the turtles and weather play out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Afternoon, interesting feature at about 10/52. Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just wondering what anyones thoughts are of Texas getting a tropical storm/hurricane this year? We had to evacuate for Rita (05) and Ike (08). Rita hit closer to home than ike but ike was just so huge that we had to evacuate for it as well.....just curious.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:
Look how warm the southeast United States is. Indicated by the purple colors

Or for those a little challanged in life, you could just step outside.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Canewarning...there is only one as far as I am concerned...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Look how warm the southeast United States is. Indicated by the purple colors - infrared temperature 40C.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
823. 7544
wave around 50 looks good but the one looks better behind it around 35 imo
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Vortex95:


But Mr. Tampa sir what type of fantasy world there are so many you need to be more specfic. Am I right?!?!?!?!?!?


NOw your going to get me banned again...LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
Tampa...don't use the "F" word!!!!!!!

;)


Which one?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
the AOI at 10n 50w doesnt look to bad... it would be interesting to see it hold together.. last i checked it doesnt have any model support, but we know how off the models have been this year. Probably the one's that don't get support will be the storms that form..lol!
It is too early in the season, climatology speaking, for some of these models to correctly anaylize and predict these "systems".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Too bad some live in a fantasy world!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
The doom blogs are 3 doors down and to the right,,tyvm.
Let me introduce you to my portfolio. I might need to lurk in that room awhile....lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Tampa -- sorry if i wasn't clear... i was trying to convey that it would be interesting if it could hold together.. like a couple of days... my apologies :)


No apologies needed! I understood what you ment....I was probably wasn't clear myself Sorry!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ESL GOM GOES IR loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
Tampa -- sorry if i wasn't clear... i was trying to convey that it would be interesting if it could hold together.. like a couple of days... my apologies :)
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
The doom blogs are 3 doors down and to the right,,tyvm.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
Satellite Imagery from the University of Miami
There is no endorsement of NWHHC by the University of Miami.


Loops are for informational purposes only. Please refer to local emergency management officials for official information
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
NexSat GOM Visible Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
Quoting weathersp:


Your minds are convectionally challenged....

Poor Bloggers.


OH well you know what i mean......LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
Quoting TampaSpin:


Actually convection has grown considerably over the last few hours when you look at the loop......LOOKING VEry good actually!
OK out of lurk mode for a minute...We need to get something going so good people like Tampa, Ike, and teh such won't be so bored as to get theirselves banned....lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


Actually convection has grown considerably over the last few hours when you look at the loop......LOOKING VEry good actually!


Your minds are convectionally challenged....

Poor Bloggers.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
the AOI at 10n 50w doesnt look to bad... it would be interesting to see it hold together.. last i checked it doesnt have any model support, but we know how off the models have been this year. Probably the one's that don't get support will be the storms that form..lol!


Actually convection has grown considerably over the last few hours when you look at the loop......LOOKING VEry good actually!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the AOI at 10n 50w doesnt look to bad... it would be interesting to see it hold together.. last i checked it doesnt have any model support, but we know how off the models have been this year. Probably the one's that don't get support will be the storms that form..lol!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Quoting NRAamy:
Tampa...don't use the "F" word!!!!!!!

;)


ROFLMAO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tampa...don't use the "F" word!!!!!!!

;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SpicyAngel1072:


...weatherstudent


him and a few others...
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Seems the real instigators do not get punished, the ones who slam others for giving their simple opinions... but who am i to say...

Anyway the weather.. forcasted to be 100+ here in SeTx this weekend...ugh!


...weatherstudent
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
Could not resist.....

Spam on the Run
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Seems the real instigators do not get punished, the ones who slam others for giving their simple opinions... but who am i to say...

Anyway the weather.. forcasted to be 100+ here in SeTx this weekend...ugh!
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Quoting NRAamy:
welcome to my world, Tampa...

;)


Felix should have never been banned.........LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Banned on the run..


Nice
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i wonder what is wrong with www.weather.unisys.com site
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Banned on the run..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129796
789. JRRP
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
Quoting Ossqss:
Hummm, Tampaspam ,,, nah, it just doesn't sound right :)





heck i ate way to much spam as a little kid.....i sure the heck don't want any more......LMAO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hummm, Tampaspam ,,, nah, it just doesn't sound right :)

Time to go finish the ark before next round that approaches.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


They said i was spamming......LOL.
I remember posting for fun a link to my web for Troll Juice..which you all have probably seen and banned.......LOL


I thought the troll juice was funny lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


Can you believe i got a 24hr ban..my first..LOL


Seems like its common around here these days,so your not alone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hahaguy:


For what lol?


They said i was spamming......LOL.
I remember posting for fun a link to my web for Troll Juice..which you all have probably seen and banned.......LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
783. beell
LOL-A very big difference! I think the TUTT is gonna creep back into the picture over the Carribean-which would suggest higher shear.

And there will always be some difference between "Shear" and "Zonal" Shear-Easterly or Westerly shear is much more of a negative for development.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 833 - 783

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Light Snow
30 °F
Light Snow Mist

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron