NRL Researchers Receive NASA Award for Marine Meteorology Research

3/8/2004 - 16-04r
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Researchers from the Naval Research Laboratory's Marine Meteorology Division recently received a National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA) Group Achievement Award. The award was presented "in recognition of establishing a Near Real Time Processing and Delivery System providing Earth Observing System (EOS) Products to operational agencies." NRL's Marine Meteorology Division is located in Monterey, California.

This award, signed by NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, recognizes outstanding accomplishments that have been made through the coordination of many individual efforts and have contributed substantially to the accomplishment of the NASA mission. The NRL employees recognized by NASA were Mr. Jeff Hawkins, Mr. Tom Lee, Dr. Steve Miller, Mr. Kim Richardson, and Dr. Joe Turk, all from the Satellite Meteorological Applications Section. Two employees of FNMOC, Mr. Jim Cornelius and Mr. Chuck Skupniewicz, were also included in the NASA Group Achievement Award. Ms. Joy Henegar and Mr. Jim O'Neal from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) traveled to Monterey, California, to personally present the award to NRL and FNMOC personnel on February 4, 2004. NRL, NASA, Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC), the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were highlighted as team members that pushed the research and development envelope to make a positive contribution to operational users.

To support the "War on Terror" over both short and intermediate timelines, NRL's Marine Meteorology Division evaluated Navy needs and promoted several key collaborative thrusts geared to providing forecasters for Southwest Asia with unique products addressing current deficiencies for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. NRL scientists worked with the NASA GSFC and NOAA to gain access to near real-time access to MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. This research-grade 36-channel sensor combines high spatial resolution (250m, 500m and 1km) visible/Infrared (vis/IR) bands not available on any other orbiting platform and thus nicely complements existing geostationary and polar orbiting operational sensors. The digital data was provided via superb collaboration with the NASA/NOAA Near Real Time Processing Effort (NRTPE). Through their efforts, data latency averaged less than 2.5 hours, with some data available as soon as 60 minutes after satellite observation time.

Science and technology investments already in place at NRL enabled the Marine Meteorology Division to quickly respond to the rapidly changing national needs. The new product suite developed by NRL using the NASA MODIS data was an innovative set of satellite remote sensing products, including high-resolution true-color imagery and novel mathematical algorithms for color enhancements of key

features. These new products upgraded DOD capabilities to view and detect a number of atmospheric conditions that routinely impact operations and are difficult to detect and interpret in traditional imagery products. These atmospheric conditions include dust events, convective cloud top heights, fire and smoke, and low clouds at night. Algorithms for discriminating between snow and cloud, which can look very similar in visible gray-scale imagery, were also useful for aircraft operations. To increase user-friendliness, NRL developed an interactive web-based delivery system that allowed users to select the areas and specific sets of products that were of primary interest to them.

To provide for operational delivery of the web-based products, NRL teamed up with FNMOC, who has responsibility for environmental support of Navy forces around the globe and is co-located with NRL in Monterey. NRL routinely produced the Southwest Asia satellite research products and provided them to FNMOC, who hosted the products on a secure DOD web site for access by key operational users both ashore and afloat. Large Navy ships with meteorologists onboard (carriers, amphibious vessels, and command and control ships), regional forecast centers, and Air Force bases all routinely used the timely, value-added product suite developed by NRL. In addition, NRL scientists provided support to the operational forecasters through web-based tutorials and on-line product discussions, so users could quickly familiarize themselves with these new products.

Navy and Air Force operators provided key feedback illustrating how the products positively impacted air operations, which included target and route selection, weapons/sensor decisions, and carrier aircraft launch/recovery operations. The collaborative interagency effort put together by NRL to support our deployed forces serves as an outstanding example of how the nations resources can be brought together to respond in times of national need, said Ms. Patricia Phoebus, Associate Superintendent of the Marine Meteorology Division.

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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