NOAA Upgrades Global Forecast System

(Image: NOAA)

On Wednesday, June 12th, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA) will be upgrading their flagship model the Global Forecast System (the GFS). The GFS is a U.S. weather model that covers the entire globe, making it a robust tool for providing guidance to forecasters.

The upgrade coming to the GFS will include a new core, called the finite-volume cubed-spere – or FV3. The core can be thought of as the model’s ‘engine’. Giving this ‘engine’ an upgrade is a big deal for scientists; it will be the first major upgrade to the model’s dynamical core in nearly 40 years!

The new FV3 core will improve the model’s performance and the accuracy of the model’s forecast guidance. NOAA is confident in this improvement, since testing for the new model has been in progress for a year already. Testing for the upgrade included more than 100 scientists, modelers, programmers and technicians from around the country. Scientists determined that the upgraded FV3-based GFS performed better overall when tested against historical data.

According to NOAA the new model will “drive global numerical weather prediction into the future with improved forecasts of severe weather, winter storms, and tropical cyclone intensity and track”. The director of NOAA’s National Weather Service also noted that the improvements won’t end here. Dr. Louis W. Uccellini is looking forward to work on improving the physics and data handling within the model in the future.

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