The Weather Program Office’s mission is to develop and transition weather research to societal applications. In alignment with the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, WPO aims to support research and development (R&D) projects that lead to improved understanding of tropical cyclones, severe storms, extreme precipitation, air pollution, and social science, and an integration of weather, water, and climate forecasting and hazard communication. Successful transition of research to operations (R2O), commercialization and public release (R2C), application (R2A), or any other specialized use (R2X) requires strong and consistent coordination within NOAA and across line offices and fields within the weather enterprise, beginning at the start of transitionable R&D projects. As a result, WPO prioritizes R2X capability in its funding opportunities and project management strategies for all of its programs.
NOAA’s Policy on Research and Development Transitions (Administrative Order 216-105B) guides WPO’s R2X initiatives. This policy implements Transition Plans for all R&D projects intended to transition to a further application and Readiness Levels (RLs) to track the progress of R&D projects.
Collaborative Funding Opportunities, particularly the annual Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), are the primary mechanism for supporting transitionable R&D projects. WPO continually engages its partners, especially in OAR, NWS, and academia, to better inform research priorities. Input from operational centers and external partners allows WPO to regularly identify and assess current science gaps and develop funding priorities to address them.
Transition Plans are documents that represent an agreement between clearly identified researchers and potential recipients, organizations, or other users of the product resulting from the transition of an R&D output. Transition Plans include general information about the project and a proposed process for how it can most efficiently be integrated into operations or other applications. Early (and often) coordination during a project allows for researchers, developers, and operators to identify both the potentials for success and possible limitations of both the new technologies/ideas and the existing operational framework, and strategize a connection between the two. For additional information about transition plans, see WPO’s transition plan information page.
Readiness Levels (RLs) are how NOAA tracks the progression of transitionable R&D projects along a spectrum of Basic Research (RL1) through operational transition (RL9). NOAA uses RLs to characterize the status of R&D relative to its readiness to be used operationally or in other societal applications. Projects reaching RL4 (successful testing in experimental environment) or beyond are required to complete a transition plan. For additional information about RLs, see WPO’s RL information page.
NOAA R2X Committees, Working Groups, and Workshops play a key role in connecting WPO with the rest of the NOAA R2X community. WPO participates in regular coordination with NOAA’s Testbeds and Proving Grounds, Line Office Transition Managers, Project Database Managers, and more. WPO programs often lead or participate in community workshops to facilitate discussion and better understand researcher, end-user, and operational needs. Recent examples include the Unified Forecast System (UFS) Users Workshop, Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) R2O Workshop, Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs) Workshop, and Workshop on Building an Interannual to Decadal Prediction/Projection Capability for Decision Support.
Selected Recent Transitions
As of 2021, WPO has facilitated over 90 signed transition plans since 2017.
Research to Operations Overview Download