A new article published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society details how the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) is working to unify community weather modeling and advance numerical weather prediction using open-source and open-science methods.
Written by current and former NOAA leaders Richard W. Spinrad, Louis W. Uccellini, Dorothy M. Koch, Craig N. McLean, and the late William M. Lapenta, the article provides a detailed history of NOAA’s world class weather prediction and the recent development of EPIC and the Unified Forecast System to provide the best possible weather forecasting for the nation.
The U.S. economy has encountered nearly $2 trillion in weather-related costs since 1980, with $95 billion in damage occurring in 2020 alone, the article notes. The costs of extreme weather events are escalating in the United States due to a combination of increasing exposure of assets in weather-prone regions, aging infrastructure, climate change and the growing incidence of multiple hazards. Our society relies on NOAA forecasts to predict hazards at various time scales and spatial dimensions to mitigate impacts associated with increased extreme events. To meet these challenges, NOAA must craft the best environmental information for the U.S. population using large datasets of observations, high-performance computing (HPC), and advanced numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems, the article says.
The article points out that NOAA’s strategy involves unification and simplification of the NWP modeling suite through the Unified Forecast System. EPIC, made possible by Congress in 2019, is essential to fuel the UFS community modeling strategy. EPIC is a virtual community model development environment providing management of cloud-ready code, community access to NOAA observations, data and tools, community support and engagement, and clear research and model transition to operations priorities.
EPIC’s focus, the article explains, is to enable the Unified Forecast System (UFS), a community-based, coupled, comprehensive Earth modeling system, to become the most accurate and reliable operational numerical forecast model in the world. Software engineering, software infrastructure, user support services, cloud-based HPC, scientific innovation, management and planning, and external engagement and community, EPIC’s core investment areas, are all essential to achieve NOAA’s mission. The authors say that NOAA remains 100% committed to the EPIC vision and is now inviting partners from across the weather enterprise through its web portal, and community workshops and events to engage in this unified effort to advance weather prediction for the benefit of society.