NEWS | Jan. 17, 2013

Dr. Melinda Peng Elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Melinda Peng, a meteorologist for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), has been elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Peng heads the Atmospherics Dynamics and Prediction Branch in the Marine Meteorology Division located in Monterey, California.

Peng is recognized for her almost 30 years of sustained service to the science of meteorology, and to operational numerical weather prediction in particular, first at the Naval Postgraduate School for 13 years and then at NRL-Monterey for the past 16 years. She also served as Program Director for the Large Scale Dynamics Section in the Atmospheric Science Division at the National Science Foundation for two years.

Peng's work in the field of meteorology, both as a scientist and manager, as well as her mentoring of graduate students, summer interns and post-doctoral fellows, has had a major impact on advancing the state of the science over her career. She has contributed directly to improving operational numerical weather prediction through her individual research work as attested to by over 40 peer-reviewed scientific publications in her 16 years at NRL. In addition, she has been recognized with two Special Act Awards and three Alan Berman Publication Awards during the past 10 years at NRL.

In her leadership role at NRL, Peng has supervised over 40 researchers engaged in basic and applied research in atmospheric dynamics, physics, and data assimilation; overseen an annual budget of approximately $15M; and led the Navy's efforts in several national partnerships and served on various committees and boards. These include community-wide activities, such as the Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC), the National Unified Operational Prediction Capability, the U.S. THORPEX Executive Committee, and the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP). While at the National Science Foundation, she participated in the planning of national and international field programs and coordinated multi-agency collaborations in USWRP and THORPEX.

Peng is now leading a group of modelers undertaking the most challenging task of integrating and transitioning a new operational global prediction system for the Navy that has new advanced physics and a 4-D variational data assimilation scheme. Her leading-edge work on convective parameterization has resulted in a robust and efficient Emanuel-Peng scheme that has been implemented in the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) and led to significant improvements in operational global forecast skill in general and Tropical Cyclone (TC) track predictions in particular. Peng has also:
  • Pioneered the application of singular vector technique for TC predictability applications and established international collaborations related to TC predictability,
  • Defined characteristics of tropical cyclogenetic disturbances as well as dynamics of concentric eyewalls, interactions among multiple hurricanes, 2-D and 3-D Rossby wave dispersion from tropical cyclones, vortex axisymmeterization from asymmetric disturbances, and
  • Designed and advanced various components of the Navy's Coupled Ocean-Air Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS(r))1.
Peng has developed a national and international reputation for producing high quality scientific contributions to numerical weather prediction, including Tropical Cyclone prediction, while at the same time managing a large and diverse group of scientists. Peng's management style has served to motivate achievement in those working with and for her resulting in a high degree of scientific excellence. While at NRL she has served as principal investigator on nine major projects and co-principal Investigator on five additional projects, many while exercising her duties as head of the Atmospheric Dynamics and Prediction Branch. She has pioneered joint collaboration projects with operational numerical weather prediction centers such as Japan Meteorological Agency, European Center for Medium-Range Weather Prediction and Taiwan Central Weather Bureau, while also maintaining collaborative research projects with over a dozen universities and government laboratories across the United States.

Peng earned her bachelor's degree in atmospheric physics from National Central University, Taiwan; her master's degrees in atmospheric science and in computer science from State University of New York at Albany; and her doctorate in atmospheric science, also from State University of New York at Albany.