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NEWS | Sept. 8, 2015

NRL Researchers Receive Office of Naval Research Technology Achievement Award

By Daniel Parry

A team comprised of eleven research meteorologists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Marine Meteorology Division, received the Dr. Arthur E. Bisson Prize for Naval Technology Achievement at a ceremony hosted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), August 26.

The award honors the team for expertise and innovative scientific work resulting in the rapid development, from basic research to transition to operations, of an innovative and versatile Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) system significantly improving the prediction of tropical cyclones (TC) — one of the most significant threats to Department of Defense (DoD) operations in the tropical and mid-latitude ocean areas around the world.

The team consisting of Dr. James D. Doyle, team lead and Mesoscale Modeling Section Head at NRL, and meteorologists Drs. Sue Chen, Eric Hendricks, Richard Hodur, Teddy Holt, Hao Jin, Yi Jin, Jonathan Moskaitis, Melinda Peng, Patrick Reinecke, and Shouping Wang were named for their achievements in contributing to the improved safety of Navy personnel, DoD assets, and the broader civilian population in coastal regions through their development of the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System for Tropical Cyclones (COAMPS-TCTM).

Doyle and his entire COAMPS-TC team vigorously engaged the Navy's Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) and warfighting leadership, as well as the broader civilian meteorological community to inform the development and advancement of COAMPS-TC into a leading tropical cyclone model. Their coordination with a variety of Navy, DoD and interagency collaborators, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA resulted in the expanded use of COAMPS-TC in the research and operational forecasting communities.

Currently, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and National Hurricane Center (NHC) use COAMPS-TC for forecast guidance for the wind speed intensity of tropical cyclones (TC) and to forecast their speed and direction of movement. Because COAMPS-TC showed significant promise in predictive skill, both JTWC and NHC incorporated its products into their official 'Consensus' forecasts in 2012, well before the official model transition date. Improvements are continuing to be made to COAMPS-TC that will ultimately provide more accurate guidance for DoD and U.S. government forecasters.

Increasingly-sophisticated developmental versions of COAMPS-TC will continue to be transitioned to Navy operations in support of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and the National Hurricane Center. A key additional enhancement will be a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere version in which the NRL Costal Ocean Model (NCOM) and the Wave Watch III (WWIII) model will provide the ocean circulation and wave components, respectively.

Rigorous testing using the DoD Supercomputer Resource Center (DSRC) has demonstrated the modeling system to be among the finest and most accurate tools available to DoD and U.S. civilian forecasters. COAMPS-TC has garnered numerous awards and accolades for its predictive skill and technical features during its development and since its transition to operations in June 2013.

In June 2011, COAMPS-TC was one of nine worldwide winners of the inaugural High Performance Computing (HPC) Excellence Award presented at the ISC-11 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany — an award presented annually to recognize noteworthy achievements by users of HPC technologies. As a result, COAMPS-TC was recognized for achieving a significantly improved model for tropical cyclone forecasting. COAMPS-TC development benefited significantly from the Department of Defense HPC Modernization Program Office (HPCMO) computational assets at the Navy Defense Supercomputing Resource Center (DSRC) at Mississippi's Stennis Space Center.

The COAMPS-TC project received numerous DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Office (HPCMO) Challenge Awards during its development due to its innovative technology and overwhelmingly potential benefit to the Navy and DoD. Real-time development of COAMPS-TC and its support of Navy exercises and operations was the impetus behind the Marine Meteorology Division being awarded a Cray XE6m supercomputer through a HPCMO Dedicated HPC Project Investment (DHPI) grant in 2012 and the inaugural HPCMO 'Pathfinder Project' in 2014.

The advancement in TC intensity forecasts with COAMPS-TC are based on the long-term science and technology (S&T) investment in mesoscale processes and model development from the NRL base program and the ONR Marine Meteorology Program. The understanding of tropical cyclone dynamics has been accelerated in recent years through several ONR-supported field observation campaigns that include Coupled Boundary Layers Air-Sea Transfer (CBLAST), TCS-08, ITOP-10 and Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI). The final technical push of COAMPS-TC model development came from a Rapid Transition Program project jointly supported by ONR and the Oceanographer of the Navy through PEO C4I&Space PMW-120. Advancements of COAMPS-TC and real-time demonstrations have also been supported through NOAA's Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP).

The Bisson Prize is named in honor of the late Dr. Arthur E. Bisson (1940-1996), who provided a model of principled, effective leadership in transitioning S&T to naval capabilities. In his last assignment, Dr. Bisson was Director of Science and Technology for ONR. He was a prime mover in the integration of all naval S&T in a single command, capable of managing new technology from earliest scientific concepts through prototyping and manufacture. His integrated program provided the Navy with a wholly new paradigm for faster, better coordinated, and more predictable S&T transition to acquisition and operations.

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