D


National Weather Service Offices
Collocated with Academic Institutions:
Summary of Questionnaire Responses

When Colocation Occurred: Colocation of National Weather Service (NWS) offices on or near the campuses of universities occurred between 1993 and 1998 with the earliest being in State College, PA, around 1993 (Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center [RFC] and Weather Forecast Office [WFO] State College) and the most recent being WFO Fairbanks in 1998. In some of these cases, interactions had already begun prior to colocation, in the 1980s, and had progressively increased through COMET, internship, and other programs.

How Close NWS Offices Are to Campus: Five of the NWS offices interviewed are located on campus (National Hurricane Center [NHC] Florida, WFO Fairbanks, WFO Honolulu, WFO Raleigh, and WFO Tucson). Three offices are located adjacent or close to campus from a few blocks to a 25-minute walk (NWS Albany, WFO Rapid City, and WFO Denver/Boulder). Five offices are located in the same city (Middle Atlantic RFC, WFO Reno, WFO San Francisco, WFO Seattle, and WFO State College)—though technically on campus they are in a research park or annex about one to three miles away. In cases where there is lack of true colocation, this appears to be a disadvantage, as discussed later.

How Successful Colocation Is with Regard to Regular Interaction: The results here appear to be somewhat varied but, overall, the responses indicate successful sustained, regular, and beneficial bidirectional interactions at 9 of the 12 NWS offices. The extent of these does not appear to be correlated with how close the NWS offices are to the campuses, although true colocation seems to have provided clear benefits.

Three of the five “On Campus Offices” (WFO Honolulu, WFO Raleigh, and WFO Tucson) report very extensive bidirectional interactions, while the other two (WFO Fairbanks and NHC Florida) report no “regular” interactions, with interactions being more on an as-needed basis.

Very strong, mutually beneficial interactions appear to have developed at WFO Raleigh (North Carolina State University). These include NWS-hosted internship courses offered for credit and with competitive selection of students (the course was highlighted in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in October 2005), monthly integration of students into NWS activities and projects, participation of NWS staff in the NCSU student chapter of AMS, collaborative projects funded through CSTAR and COMET, and research meetings/workshops many times a year to discuss successes and challenges of funded research, meteorological challenges for focus in future research proposals, data gathering efforts, etc. Beneficial interactions at WFO Tucson (University of Arizona) include research collaboration, communicating weather, water and climate issues to the community, and providing an academic institution easy access to an operationally oriented organization. Within any one year period, WFO Tucson is usually involved in two research projects with faculty and graduate students, jointly conducts press



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D National Weather Service Offices Collocated with Academic Institutions: Summary of Questionnaire Responses When Colocation Occurred: Colocation of National these does not appear to be correlated with how close the NWS offices are to the campuses, although true Weather Service (NWS) offices on or near the cam- colocation seems to have provided clear benefits. puses of universities occurred between 1993 and 1998 with the earliest being in State College, PA, around Three of the five “On Campus Offices” (WFO Hono- 1993 (Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center [RFC] lulu, WFO Raleigh, and WFO Tucson) report very and Weather Forecast Office [WFO] State College) extensive bidirectional interactions, while the other and the most recent being WFO Fairbanks in 1998. two (WFO Fairbanks and NHC Florida) report no In some of these cases, interactions had already begun “regular” interactions, with interactions being more on prior to colocation, in the 1980s, and had progressively an as-needed basis. increased through COMET, internship, and other programs. Very strong, mutually beneficial interactions appear How Close NWS Offices Are to Campus: F ive of to have developed at WFO Raleigh (North Carolina State University). These include NWS-hosted intern- the NWS offices interviewed are located on campus ship courses offered for credit and with competitive (National Hurricane Center [NHC] Florida, WFO selection of students (the course was highlighted in Fairbanks, WFO Honolulu, WFO Raleigh, and WFO the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Tucson). Three offices are located adjacent or close to in October 2005), monthly integration of students into campus from a few blocks to a 25-minute walk (NWS NWS activities and projects, participation of NWS Albany, WFO Rapid City, and WFO Denver/Boul- staff in the NCSU student chapter of AMS, collabora- der). Five offices are located in the same city (Middle tive projects funded through CSTAR and COMET, Atlantic RFC, WFO Reno, WFO San Francisco, and research meetings/workshops many times a year WFO Seattle, and WFO State College)—though to discuss successes and challenges of funded research, technically on campus they are in a research park or meteorological challenges for focus in future research annex about one to three miles away. In cases where proposals, data gathering efforts, etc. Beneficial interac- there is lack of true colocation, this appears to be a tions at WFO Tucson (University of Arizona) include disadvantage, as discussed later. research collaboration, communicating weather, water How Successful Colocation Is with Regard to Regu- and climate issues to the community, and providing an lar Interaction: The results here appear to be some- academic institution easy access to an operationally ori- ented organization. Within any one year period, WFO what varied but, overall, the responses indicate suc- Tucson is usually involved in two research projects with cessful sustained, regular, and beneficial bidirectional faculty and graduate students, jointly conducts press interactions at 9 of the 12 NWS offices. The extent of 95

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96 APPENDIX D conferences on science issues and participates in three warnings); (5) access to unique datasets (imagery and to five meetings associated with integrating advances high-resolution/ensemble model runs) that would not in science into an operational setting. Similar benefits otherwise be available; (6) access to robust Internet appear to be realized at WFO Honolulu (University connections; (7) being able to identify top students for of Hawaii). recruitment; and (8) continuing education of NWS employees. However the latter suffers from inadequate Similarly the three “Near Campus Offices” report fairly funding support. Outreach is also improved by being successful interactions. WFO Denver/Boulder reports able to take advantage of university outreach programs multiple daily interactions ranging from weather brief- and career fairs. In the case of WFO Honolulu, the ings to side-by-side work in the forecast operations collaboration results in Hawaii-specific research on area, regular interactions such as project and science issues that would not be studied without University presentations and participation in seminars and work- participation and resources. shops at NCAR, UCAR, CIRES (University of Colo- rado) and CIRA (Colorado State University) providing Again, the most extensive benefits appear to be at strong educational experiences for NWS staff. NWS WFO Albany, WFO Denver/Boulder, WFO Raleigh, Albany is engaged in active CSTAR grants, hosts 16 and WFO Tucson, these being the ones reporting the University of Albany interns each year, employs two to most active and extensive interactions. In fact, WFO three students per year, and benefits from University Denver/Boulder reports that one academic actually conference facilities. The WFO Rapid City reports works a forecast shift once a month under the supervi- participation in seminars, substitute teaching, a severe sion of a lead forecaster and often joins the discussion weather spotter class by the WCM, collaborative of the forecast on other days. In another vein, Raleigh research meetings, and the SOO serving on thesis and reports being able to take advantage of the NCSU dissertation committees. recycling program to properly dispose of an estimated one-half ton of recycled materials. Three of the four “Same City” offices in Pennsylvania How Colocation Impacts University Functions: (Middle Atlantic RFC, WFO Reno, and WFO State College) report extensive student engagement (some Colocation appears to benefit University functions at leading to careers with the NWS) that provides “hydro- most of the locations, through (1) guest lectures and/ logic familiarization training” to meteorology students, or teaching provided by NWS staff; (2) participation including some teaching. WFO San Francisco reports in collaborative research opportunities and grant pro- limited interactions. WFO Seattle benefitted from posals—both directly and through letters of support; and contributed to the collaboration with University (3) participation on student thesis committees; (4) of Washington atmospheric scientists on the science participation in (and providing data and projects for) of weather forecasting. This led to improvements in student term projects; (5) easier student/faculty access the understanding of the local weather of the Pacific to radar/precipitation products; (6) internships, career Northwest. University of Washington atmospheric sci- experiences, and employment opportunities provided entists did a lot to improve weather observations locally to students; (7) input provided regarding faculty hires; and WFO Seattle benefitted from this. and (8) ability of University to tout the nearby NWS forecasting facilities and internship opportunities to How Colocation Impacts NWS Functions: C o- help them recruit and retain top students. Conversely, location appears to benefit NWS functions at most of it appears that numerous students at collocated Uni- the offices, through (1) improved precipitation forecasts versities take advantage of NWS career opportunities. during some heavy rainfall events; (2) feedback from faculty; (3) student involvement in operational fore- Again, WFO Raleigh reports very extensive benefits casting and data collection; (4) shared research projects from the close partnership including sharing of data (resulting in more rapid integration of science findings and building of critical datasets used by the North into NWS operations thereby improving forecasts and Carolina State Climate office (also collocated). WFO

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97 APPENDIX D Tucson reports that colocation brings expertise in activities. WFO Rapid City would like to dedicate applying research in an operational setting to the uni- more of an FTE to collaboration. The Middle Atlan- versity. WFO Rapid City reports an interesting student tic RFC would like to offer paid student internships volunteer program that is run as a course for credit. on a regular basis and provide more opportunities In an interesting arrangement, rent monies paid by for Middle Atlantic RFC staff to take course work at WFO Honolulu to the University of Hawaii are used Pennsylvania State University. to support a full time Graduate Research Assistant, two summer teaching assistants, six undergraduate student In a different vein, there can be difficulties related to assistants and some operational costs. the nature of the facilities. For example, the experience of WFO Honolulu indicates that colocation can raise Other Benefits of Colocation: In general, colocation difficulties with regards to access to staff and visitor offers excellent working facilities with good security, parking. This can cause security issues for shift workers. an easy commute, a nice campus atmosphere, and an Meanwhile WFO Raleigh points out that in a facility unparalleled opportunity for the NWS staff to interact directly-owned by NWS, the office is more able to solve with the academic community. In many cases such facilities-related problems on its own or through pro- colocation provided early access to advanced Internet viders of its choosing. In a facility leased from a campus, connectivity, this being instrumental in the develop- facilities issues must usually be directed to campus ment of operational research programs. WFO Rapid facilities personnel with more complex procedures to City reports that the interaction helps keep the NWS be followed (work orders, facilities modification form staff from becoming too internally focused. WFO Fair- completion and approvals, etc.) to get work accom- banks reports that colocation enhances outreach and plished. Sometimes, apparently very simple work needs facilitates collaborations that would otherwise be dif- to be completed by University personnel at a cost, due ficult to accomplish. Further, students get unique access to the need to comply with state law and liability issues. to the forecast office and staff, and are often able to gain On the other hand, when colocation is not directly on insights into operational forecast decision making that campus, the lack of close proximity poses a real draw- are not easily taught in the classroom. Active discus- back because it does not allow for the kind of valuable sion/debate between forecasters and faculty during informal gatherings that are critical to true interaction. significant weather events (such as tropical cyclones) benefits both sides. WFO Denver/Boulder reports that A unique challenge appears to exist in regard to the the ability of the WFO to provide input at early stages colocation of the NHC at Florida International Uni- in the research-to-operations process helps to ensure a versity. In this case, the basic problem seems to be better product for the National Weather Service and that the University foci do not include ones that are the weather enterprise at large. WFO Raleigh reports directly related to what NHC or NWS does, so col- that recruits note that the benefits of collaborative laboration has been difficult. This may point to the research, professional development, educational oppor- need for more careful attention when pairing NWS tunities, and/or increased activity or energy are impor- offices with Universities. The colocation of WFO San tant reasons for their interest in the office. Francisco with the Naval Postgraduate School has also been less than optimal. Interaction between the WFO Challenges/Difficulties Reported with Respect to and the University has been minimal, and the location Colocation: W hile challenges with respect to coloca- is very inconvenient. Most constituents and partners of tion differ from site-to-site, one common theme is the WFO San Francisco are now a one to three hour drive lack of sufficient funding to support the activities that away. The WFO reports losing interaction with the benefit from colocation. In almost every case, more San Francisco media market since moving to Monterey. benefits would likely accrue if more moneys and/or F TEs could be devoted to university collaborative

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