Funds from Inflation Reduction Act come to NOAA as climate crisis worsens extreme weather
Today, the Department of Commerce and NOAA announced a $7 million funding opportunity through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to establish a new multi-university Data Assimilation Consortium that will improve weather predictions. As the climate crisis contributes to worsening extreme weather events affecting Americans nationwide, this investment will give Americans the information and tools they need to prepare and stay safe.
Funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, this award will provide up to $7 million over three years beginning in fiscal year 2024 for a new consortium focused on numerical weather prediction. This new consortium will bolster NOAA forecast models, provide strategic workforce development in data assimilation and enhance long-term partnerships between NOAA and those working in academia, government and the broader weather enterprise. NOAA is currently soliciting collaborative proposals for the project.
“Millions of Americans are right now experiencing the impacts of extreme weather, made worse by the climate crisis, which threatens people’s safety and economic security of the nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Under President Biden’s leadership, we are updating our weather infrastructure so that communities can take actions to protect lives and maintain resilience in the face of extreme weather events, including those brought on by climate change.”
In recent years, the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented rate of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, as well as increasing extreme heat events. Hundreds of lives have been lost and trillions of dollars in damages amassed as a result of severe storms, hurricanes, floods, drought, heat waves, wildfires and winter storms. During the first half of 2023, there were 12 confirmed weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion, and already this year, disaster events have resulted in the deaths of at least 100 people.
“The need for actionable weather information never ends, and neither do our efforts to make that information as accurate as possible,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “This new consortium funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will help us stay on the cutting edge and help continue innovation needed for more precise forecasts.”
Data assimilation advancements are crucial for improving our forecasts because they ensure that the forecast models start with the most accurate and best-understood initial state of the planet. This is done by using high-quality, real-world observed conditions, the most current science and our next generation weather models to increase the accuracy of forecasts. Earth system observations come from instruments on a variety of platforms, including satellites, radars, aircraft-based instruments, ships, buoys, uncrewed platforms and land-based surface stations.
Data assimilation allows for these observations to be blended with forecast model output to create high quality analyses to initialize our weather and climate forecast models. Advancing out data assimilation capabilities will help maximize the value provided by NOAA’s global observing system.
This new funding will aid in the strategic partnership between NOAA and the broader weather enterprise to develop the Unified Forecast System. This comprehensive, open source Earth modeling system accelerates the transition of research successes to operations by incorporating innovations from across the enterprise and across several independent forecast models into a single seamless system.
The multi-university consortium will also advance data assimilation research and education, and foster collaboration, student training and exchange of experts between NOAA and the the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation, academic partners including minority-serving institutions and international institutions such as the Met Office in the UK and its Met Office Academic Partnership (MOAP) universities. The Data Assimilation Consortium’s collaborations will be facilitated through a new Transatlantic Data Science Academy (TDSA) that is being set up jointly by the Met Office and NOAA.
There is currently a shortage of data assimilation scientists across the U.S., and the extreme weather associated with the climate crisis is increasing demand for this occupation now more than ever. This new funding will invest in the training and workforce development we need in this important area of forecasting.
“Advancing data assimilation is essential to improving our forecasts,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Michael C. Morgan, Ph.D. “This funding will help us train and develop a new and diverse cohort of data assimilation scientists for the future and will help us broaden access to this area of weather prediction.”
More information on the Notice of Funding Opportunity is available online.
More information about the Inflation Reduction Act can be found on the NOAA website.
NOAA Communications: Monica Allen, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202)379-6693
PHOTO CAPTION: A GeoColor image of the U.S. from NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite on July 18, 2023.