NSSL researchers work on a variety of projects to increase understanding and improve forecasts and warnings for severe weather to help save lives and property.
Improving Severe Weather Warnings & Forecasts
The Environmental Profiling and Initiation of Convection Project: Meteorologists are always looking for better ways to measure the atmosphere. NSSL researchers are joining with several partners to test the value of airborne, mobile systems to observe weather in a new way.
Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats: a proposed next-generation severe weather watch and warning framework that is modern, flexible, and designed to communicate clear and simple hazardous weather information to serve the public.
Multi-Radar, Multi-Sensor: The MRMS system was developed to produce severe weather and precipitation products for improved decision-making capability to improve severe weather forecasts and warnings, hydrology, aviation, and numerical weather prediction.
The Hazardous Weather Testbed, a joint project of the National Weather Service and NSSL, provides a conceptual framework and a physical space to foster collaboration between research and operations to test and evaluate emerging technologies and science for NWS operations.
The Phased Array Radar Innovative Sensing Experiment is a key part of the Multi-function Phased Array Radar program whose purpose is to develop and test weather applications of a rapid-scan phased array radar located at the National Weather Radar Testbed in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Warn on Forecast research program is attempting to increase tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warning lead times by using ultrahigh-resolution computer models that will predict specific weather hazards 30-60 minutes before they form.
Increasing Understanding of Severe Storms
Recent advances in computing technology have enabled the use of numerical weather prediction models with high enough resolution to adequately depict individual thunderstorms across very large areas such as the entire continental United States. These models, which are known as convection-allowing models, or CAMs, are extremely valuable to forecasters because they provide information on storm types, which are strongly related to expected hazards.
The goal of the Rivers of Vorticity in Supercells project is to capture measurements of wind shifts just above the ground in a specific area within supercell thunderstorms. These wind shifts may be associated with vorticity rivers, streams of air containing the rotation that can feed tornadoes. Vorticity rivers have been seen in thunderstorm simulations, but evidence of their existence has not been found in actual storms.
More than 50 researchers and students are deploying a wide-ranging suite of instruments to collect data on supercell thunderstorms across the Great Plains during 2019 and 2020. The TORUS project, or Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells, aims at understanding the relationships between severe thunderstorms and tornado formation.
The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast brings together meteorologists and social scientists in a program looking at conditions that produce tornadoes in the U.S. Southeast. This experiment not only looks at tornadic weather, but also studies the way forecasters warn for tornadoes, and how the public receives and responds to forecast information.
Improving Radar Technology & Capabilities
The Multi-function Phased Array Radar project was demonstrated the potential to simultaneously perform aircraft tracking, wind profiling, and weather surveillance with a single phased array weather radar. NOAA's National Weather Radar Testbed was a joint initiative between NOAA and several partners to use rapid-scanning radar technology to provide faster and more accurate warnings for severe and hazardous weather.
Hailed as a successful example of citizen science, weather observations collected from the public through NSSL's Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground project are used to improve understanding of how different types of precipitation can be identified by radar.
Improving the Science Behind Flood Forecasts & Warnings
The Automated NonContact Hydrologic Observation in Rivers project aims to advance observations of the water cycle across the United States, to improve hydrologic forecasting in the collaboration with the United States Geological Survey, which operates and maintains more than 7000 streamgages across the U.S. These observations serve as a critical network to inform hydrologic simulations and help improve forecasts.
The Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning project is a demonstration project that predicts the combined effects of coastal and inland floods for coastal North Carolina. CI-FLOW captures the complex interaction between rainfall, river flows, waves, and tides and storm surge, and how they will impact ocean and river water levels.
The Flooded Locations And Simulated Hydrographs Project uses forecast models, geographic information, and real-time high-resolution, accurate rainfall observations to improve the accuracy and timing of flash flood warnings.