BOX 3.1

NOAA’s Five Primary Mission Goals

  1. Protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through an ecosystem approach to management.

  2. Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.

  3. Serve society’s need for weather and water information.

  4. Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation.

  5. Provide critical support for NOAA’s mission.


workshop (NOAA, 2002), and these requirements are discussed in more detail in the following sections.

Requirements for Weather Applications

The critical requirement for weather-related applications is timely and continuous availability of accurate precipitation data transmitted in WMO formats. NOAA weather-related activities requiring precipitation data include nowcasting (0-3 hours lead time); short-term forecasting (3-12 hours), multiday numerical weather prediction (NWP) forecasts, and preparation and dissemination of centralized forecast guidance.

Many of NOAA’s weather-related (and climate-related) operational activities are centered in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). NCEP’s operational needs for global precipitation data include initialization of atmospheric and surface hydrologic (soil moisture) components of coupled NWP models and forecast verification. NCEP’s Environmental Modeling Center needs data describing precipitation characteristics, processes (e.g., phase, type, vertical distribution), and ambient conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity, winds) for improving model physics and data assimilation methodology. NCEP central operations provide services in the form of centralized forecast guidance and analysis products that support the public use of NCEP’s National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts. These products, which include precipitation forecasts, are delivered through the NCEP Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (heavy precipitation forecasts), Storm Prediction Center (severe weather forecasts), Tropical Prediction Center (tropical cyclone forecasts), and Aviation Weather Center. Frequent sampling and timely data availability are also critical for precipitation nowcasts and short-term projections prepared by the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) Satellite Analysis Branch.

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