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The Marine Observing and Forecasting System The marine forecast delivered to the marine operator represents the culmination of a long process of data observation, data collection, weather prediction, tailored forecast preparation, and forecast dissemination. This process, depicted in Figure 1-1, is backed up by a continuing process of data archiving and research and development to provide a continuously improving product. The smooth operation of this system involves an international effort of observation and data collection, a national effort involving activities by a large number of federal agencies, a private sector effort involving equipment and forecast services companies, and the user. This chapter explains the steps involved in providing weather and oceanographic services to a ship at sea, and highlights the major issues involved in the process. The major point to be made at the outset is that forecast preparation is largely a serially dependent process. Before each step of the process can function efficiently, all prior actions must be completed successfully. In such a process the final product will be only as good as the weakest link in the process allows it to be. Before each step of the process can function efficiently, all prior actions must be completed successfully. OBSERVING SYSTEMS Observations of the atmosphere and oceans are the bread and butter of environmental operations. The oceans of the world represent 70 percent 1
2 Observing Systems ]: \ \ | Data Collection j Global Weather & Ocean Prediction (Models & Data Assimilation) l \\ r Tailored Marine L Forecast Preparation ~ / . ~ ~ ... Product Di ssemination 1 r USER / r FIGURE 1-1 The marine observing and forecasting system. Research, Development, and Data Archival of the earth's surface. In order to observe the ocean, one has to get on, over, or under the ocean with an instrument that can make a measurement. Opportunities to observe the oceans are limited to those provided by satellites and aircraft that fly over the oceans, or ships and platforms on and under the sea. One of the major challenges of improving observations at sea revolves around how ships of convenience and other user platforms can be used as sites for instruments to record and transmit vital measurements. The National Weather Service (NWS) collects 90,000 to 95,000 world- wide marine surface weather observations monthly from cooperative weath- er observers aboard ships at sea. These observations include those pro- vided by 49 countries that are recognized as contributors by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The U.S. Cooperative Ship Program involves 1,600 ships and is possibly the largest single national program in the world. Seventeen port meteorological officers are strategically lo- cated at NWS offices near major U.S. ports to serve as liaison to the marine community. ThirW-five operational data buoys of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plus 12 other prototype
3 or special purpose buoys provide hourly meteorological and sea state ob- servations from critical nearshore and offshore locations. In addition, 39 automated stations in the Coastal Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) report weather conditions from selected coastal sites. These marine data programs are further augmented by volunteer mariner reports (MAREPS) relayed through cooperative private coastal radio stations. Oceanographic data include `'profiles" of deep-ocean temperature and salinity that are based on measurements made by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) vessels, U.S. research vessels, and cooperating merchant marine and fishing vessels. Sea-surface temperatures and ocean waves are observed and reported by NOAA data buoys, U.S. Navy and domestic research vessels, and foreign commercial ships. Observations of tides, sea, and swell are also observed and reported daily. NOAA and military satellites over the ocean measure sea-surface temperature in cloud-free areas, and satellite-borne radar altimeters measure the variability of the ocean surface (ocean topography) and significant wave height. While the numbers of observations may seem large, they are very small in terms of the size of the world's oceans. Marine weather forecasting at a resolution consistent with present computer models requires observation densities on the order of an observation for at least every 10,000 square miles of ocean area every 6 hours, augmented by higher observation den- sities in coastal regions where small-scale variability occurs. Within the ocean, the mesoscale variability or internal weather of the ocean occurs on space scales of tens to hundreds of kilometers and time scales of days to several weeks and requires comparable observation densities to fully de- fine the processes. Near-surface phenomena affected by direct atmospheric forcing have more rapid variation. The present marine weather observation capability results in data densities of the order of an observation for every million square miles or less for most ocean areas, while internal ocean observations are sporadic and sparse. Moreover, adequate sampling re- quirements for nowcasting and forecasting of the internal structure of the ocean still need detailed determination. Weather satellites are becoming increasingly important as the major source for surface oceanic observations. Polar-orbiting and geostationa~y environmental satellites can collect large volumes of weather and oceano- graphic data. NOAA and the DOD operate weather satellites to observe cloud cover and motion, profile vertical temperature and humidity fields in the atmosphere, measure sea-surface temperature, and portray sea and Great Lakes ice coverage. Table 1-1 lists the present oceanographic observation satellites with
4 TABLE 1-1 Operational Satellites With Ocean Observing Capabilities Satellite Operator Relevant Sensor NOAA 10/11 NOAA Clouds, surface temperature, sea ice DMSPa DOD Clouds, ocean surface, wind speed, surface temperature, ice edge METEOR Soviet Union Clouds GOES NOAA Clouds, sea ice METEOSAT European Clouds community GMS Japan GEOSAT DOD Clouds Significant wave height, sea level topography aData only available to government users. operational capabiliW.iWhile the United States has historically been a pioneer in satellite technology and operates many of the present weather satellites, the ocean sensing satellite systems scheduled for launch over the next decade are research missions sponsored and operated by other nations. With the right mix of instruments, the critical parameters to support ocean internal weather modeling and nowcasting could be sampled on a frequent basis. The resultant increase in observations would be at least To orders of magnitude greater than available from shipboard systems. However, the classical data handling of research missions and the management of the satellites by other nations will likely result in little impact of these satellite data on operational forecasting functions. 1 Government thinking classes satellites into "research satellites" and "operational satel- lites." Research satellites are those satellites specifically launched to develop and test satellite technology or instrument technology. Such satellites are the sole domain of NASA. As a bureau- cratic turf issue, NASA extends the view of "research satellites" to include satellites launched for the sole purpose of conducting basic research into fundamental processes. The important aspect of research satellites is that of control of the data from the satellites. Control of the data are retained wholly within the NASA family (the "principal investigators" funded by NASA) and are not publicly released except in cases of extraordinary public pressure. Furthermore, there is no commitment on the part of NASA (and often no desire) to provide data from satellites in an operationally useful time frame. By default, all other satellites are operational satellites. Operational satellites then, are those with an "operational mission" to provide public data in operationally useful time frames. DOD satellites tend to be mission-specific. They are usually launched to achieve some mission goal. The sensors and platform may be highly developmental. If the satellite mission demonstrates that it can routinely produce useful operational products, the satellite program may become operational in character.
s DATA COLLECTION For operational uses, weather data are a highly perishable commodity. Within 3 to 4 hours after observation time, processing begins to produce operational forecasts. All weather observations made over the oceans must be collected and assembled at national forecast centers within this very short time Endow. While observations received later than 3 to 4 hours after observation time are still useful in retrospective analysis, in forecast updates, and for use as historical record, they do not directly contribute to the accuracy of the forecast delivered to users at sea. Therefore rapid and efficient data collection and relay is an essential part of the overall system. Ships relay their weather data through coastal stations maintained by almost all maritime countries of the world. The World Meteorologi- cal Organization (WMO) coordinates a worldwide communications system through the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) to rapidly distribute the collected observations to national and international forecast centers. The communications resources of the system, however, are maintained and operated by each country within the WMO. Therefore the efficiency of the GTS as a data collection and relay system is uneven. The Shipboard Environmental Data Aquisition System (SEAS) pro- gram has been developed by NOAA to deliver meteorological and oceano- graphic data from ships operating in selected areas, accurately and quickly, to shore-based users. The SEAS equipment is portable, can be installed in a few hours, and occupies approximately 3 cubic feet of space. Using SEAS, the shipboard operator can manually or automatically enter, code, and transmit standard shipboard meteorological observations (winds, tem- perature, pressure, waves/swell, and ice) and oceanographic observations (subsurface temperature, salinity, and currents) via weather satellite relay. The system simplifies and streamlines the shipboard task of weather report- ing and the communications relay process. The advantage to the nation is an increase in timely, accurate data from data-sparse ocean areas that will contribute to better marine forecasts to aid in safer and more economical at-sea operations. Within the United States, the NWS, Federal Aviation Administra- tion (FAA), and components of the DOD maintain highly efficient data collection and interchange facilities. These systems are, in general, fully responsive to the requirement for rapid data collection. An important source for open-ocean observation data for marine now- casting and forecasting is data from satellites. However, oceanographic satellites presently contemplated for launch are research vehicles. The operations plans for these satellites do not envision or provide for orbit selection, data sampling schemes, and the timely and expeditious processing of the satellite data in a manner useful for operational applications. Most
6 of the data will be provided for retrospective research applications only. Therefore, while oceanographic satellites hold great promise for adequate ocean observations, their operational impact on improved forecasting will have to wait until well into the twenty-first century under present agency plans and policies. GLOBAL WEATHER AND OCEAN PREDICTION Global weather and ocean prediction is the process of defining the future state of the atmosphere and the oceans. The accuracy of this process depends on (1) the precision and completeness of defining the present, initial state of the domain and (2) the completeness of the simulation process (usually numerical) used to project the evolution of the domain. The completeness of the initial definition of the atmosphere and ocean area is determined by the adequacy of observations, while the completeness of the physics used to simulate the evolution of the domains depends on computer power and on understanding the physical processes in the atmosphere and in the ocean. The accuracy of the resulting product is enhanced through better observations, better knowledge about the physics of the domain, and better computers, all of which limit existing skill. There are three major national facilities that produce global weather and internal ocean weather prediction products: 1. NOAA's National Meteorological Center (NMC) and Ocean Prod- ucts Center (OPC) at Camp Springs, Maryland; 2. the U.S. Navy Fleet Numerical Oceanography Center (FNOC) at Monterey, California; and 3. the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. These centers operate as the main processing centers within a network of facilities involved in environmental prediction. They are equipped with extensive communication facilities and large supercomputers dedicated to operational atmospheric and ocean simulations. The NMC/OPC serves the national civil goals for weather and physical ocean prediction, while the FNOC and the Naval Oceanographic Office meet the rather specialized objectives of the U.S. Navy. However, a number of products important to marine applications are uniquely produced by the Navy centers and as such have broader value to the nation as a whole. These products are provided to NOAA for further public distribution. Atmospheric forecasting is performed by defining the current state of the atmosphere by 3- and 6-hour pressure wind and wave analyses at the surface and 12-hour analyses at selected levels above and below the ocean surface. These products are produced by a mix of computerized numerical techniques and human operations to develop a three-dimensional picture of
7 present and future weather and ocean conditions. Computerized forecasts are then run using simulation models to project the future state of the atmosphere. In the ocean, a newly emerging capability within the Navy is the fore- casting capability at the Operational Oceanography Center at the Naval Oceanographic Office. This center routinely produces high-resolution, local-scale analysis and forecasts of ocean mesoscale phenomena. This new capability reflects the transition of a national ocean prediction capa- bility from research to operational application. NMC and FNOC transmit these analyses and forecasts to field offices throughout the nation and the world and to other users, both domestic and international, for the preparation of short- and medium- range forecasts. NOAA's Center for Ocean Analysis and Prediction NOAA has established a new facility at Monterey, California that will collocate at FNOC. A number of related specialties and disciplines are being assembled in order to focus Navy capabilities for providing oceanic products and services for meeting the civilian objectives of the Climate and Global Change Program and for addressing coastal ocean issues. The FNOC, while producing highly specialized oceanographic products for Navy use, produces unique products for marine applications and has extensive capability to serve a broader national requirement. The principal purpose for the center is to support NOAA line compo- nents in the performance of their mission to deliver oceanic products and services. Its particular focus villl be to develop and provide products that describe and predict the variability of biological, chemical, and physical pro- cesses in the global ocean and the nation's coastal ocean. These activities link the center to NOAA's programs concerning living marine resources, habitat and coastal zone management, offshore dumping and pollution, and ocean climate processes. The center began operation in 1988. It will access the data resources available at Monterey. lopes of products that NOAA intends to produce at the center during the 1990s include climate applicationswater-level analyses/anomalies, sea ice anom- alies, biological (fish count) anomalies, mass transport analyses/ anomalies, global ocean flux analyses/anomalies, ocean circulation anomalies, daily global and regional MLD analyses/anomalies, and upper~cean heat content anomalies; coastal environmental applicationswater-level analyses/anomalies, biological analyses and assessments, chemical analyses/anomalies, ocean temperature/salinity analyses/anomalies, coastal ocean front and current analyses, mass transport analyses/anomalies, and pol- lution dispersion forecasts. . .
TAILORED MARINE FORECASTING The process of converting a global prediction into a specific statement about future weather and ocean conditions for a particular region is called forecasting. The forecasting process involves additional computer simula- tions, the application of data and customer requirements to the predictions. and the use of skilled reasoning bv forecasters. A , ~ O A There are two classes of forecasts generally issued by forecasters: (1) general public forecasts and warnings and (2) customer or requirement- specific forecasts and warnings. The marine high seas and coastal warnings and forecasts issued by NOAA are examples of a public forecast, while those issued by Navy forecasters to Navy customers or by private weather service forecasters for their customers are examples of a customer-specific or tailored forecast service. U.S. Government Forecasts The NWS of NOAA has the principal responsibility for the plans and operations of the nation's basic weather sentences and certain specific applied services. The basic mission of NWS is to help ensure the safety and welfare of the general public as it is affected by weather. In support of this mission the NWS issues warnings and forecasts of weather and ocean conditions. NWS provides two broad types of services: (1) real-time operation- oriented services and (2) technical, advisory, and other support services. The three principal real-time operational services are (1) the measure- ment and description of the meteorological and hydrological conditions that prevail; (2) the prediction of the future state of these conditions; and (3) the warnings of specific conditions that threaten life, property, and the conduct of business. The NWS forecasting services involve the prediction of the future state of these same measurements for various time periods. The content of the forecasts is influenced by the interests and the requirements of the various groups of users. Forecasts are issued on a regular basis. The warring services are keyed to the occurrence of specific events or conditions, such as hurricanes or tornados. The additional advisory and supporting services of the NWS include assistance through the Voluntary Cooperation Program of the WMO. Fifty-tNo field offices prepare and issue medium- and small-scale fore- casts, weather watches, and warnings; they also acquire meteorological data. There is essentially one field office per state. Leo hundred twelve local Weather Service Offices issue small-scale forecasts and weather warnings. The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, issues advisories, watches, and warnings describing the current and future location, intensity,
9 and movement of hurricanes and other tropical storms threatening the continental United States. 1b meet a significant need for an integrated analysis and applica- tions system to support NOAA's coastal estuarine environmental, fisheries' and global change activities, several NOAA programs are being focused at developing new, and integrating existing, marine analyses and forecast products. NOAA is designing and developing the Interactive Marine Anal- ysis and Forecast System (IMAFS) to meet specific requirements for coastal ocean programs. IMAFS will store, process, and display conventional observations, "ridded fields, digital satellite data, and climatologies; permit the overlay of multiple data and products sets; and include interactive applications capabilities. The communications capabilities of the system are being designed to provide a wide-area network, which will make accessible data and generalized large-scale products from appropriate central data bases. Ports at the IMAFS sites will permit the use of local-area networks. Together, the storage, telecommunications, and processing and dis- play capabilities of IMAFS will allow NOAA to apply integrated oceanic, atmospheric, and biological data sets to fisheries applications pelagic and coastal fisheries management, environmental and habitat conservation, and resource assessment; coastal environmental applicationscoastal zone and estuarine studies, pollution monitoring and control, and habitat monitoring and control; climate and global change applications ENS O (E1 Nino, southern oscillations, global change, and atmospheric mass transport; and other applied research and data quality control. The Navy has a forecasting field office structure to serve Navy needs, several of which impact the broad national marine forecast and warning ca- pability. Three regional Naval Oceanography Centers the Naval Western Oceanography Center (NAVWESTO(:EANCEN) at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Naval Eastern Oceanography Center (NAVEASTOCEANCEN) at Nor- folk Virginia, and the Naval Polar Oceanography Center (NAVPOLARO- CEANCEN) at Suitland, Maryland are assigned broad fleet support ser- vices and related matters within their specific geographical areas of respon- sibility. NAVWESTOCEANCEN is responsible for the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas; NAVEASTOCEANCEN for the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea areas; and NAVPOLAROCEANCEN prepares forecasts for the Arctic and Antarctic areas. The NAVPOLAROCEANCEN also contains the Joint Ice Center, a NOAA-Navy polar sea ice forecasting center meeting national needs. All of these centers utilize basic and applied numerical products from the FNOC. Products produced by the centers support environmental
10 broadcasts and provide tailored support in response to specific requests from the operating forces. Into Naval Oceanography Command Centers (NAVOCEANCOM- CENs) are located at Rota, Spain, and on the island of Guam. NAV- OCEANCOMCEN Rota assists NAVWESTOCEANCEN with provision of environmental services in the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean areas. Both of these centers provide fleet environmental broadcasts and tailored support in a manner similar to the regional centers. NAVOCEAN- COMCEN Guam has an additional responsibility for operation of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (with the Air Weather Service of the U.S. Air Force), providing tropical warnings to the Air Force and issuing tropical cyclone warnings to U.S. interests in the western Pacific and Indian oceans. Private Sector Forecasting A major and growing sector of the national weather and ocean forecast- ing capability is the private weather forecasting industry. Private companies provide customized forecasts and other weather services to clients for a fee. The employment of private sector weather forecasters in the United States is not new. However, prior to World War II, there were only a few private meteorologists. At that time most private sector meteorologists were employed by industry, primarily the airline industry. Other users were shipping companies, insurance companies, and public utilities. Since the end of World War II, however, the private weather service industry has grown. Idday, there are about 100 companies that provide weather services as a commercial product. The majority of these companies are small, with 5 to 10 employees, but some are sizable corporations with staffs of several hundred employees. The gross sales for the industry are estimated at about $150 million annually. As the industry has grown, private weather services have begun fur- nishing routine forecast and weather services to the general public. This was made possible by the electronic media. In all major metropolitan areas, most of the weather forecasts distributed to the general public through local television and radio stations are prepared by private meteorologists, who tailor federally provided observations, global predictions, and warnings. The role of the private sector weather industry is expected to increase even more rapidly during the next 10 to 15 years. There is a growing demand by the general public for improvement in both the quality and quantity of weather services. Where there has been a clearly identified demand for improved service and the ability to generate revenue for providing a service, the private sector has been highly responsive to providing effective and efficient services. The emergence of a strong private weather forecasting industry has
11 brought the issues of public and private roles in weather services into sharp focus. Debate continues over how the public interest at large is best sewed through defining the roles of NOAA's National Weather and National Ocean services, DOD's meteorological and oceanographic organizations, and the private industry service companies. The issues become particularly complex in the marine environment because of the difficulties of obtaining marine observations, disseminating forecasts to ships and other marine users, and meeting the need for private weather services to be economically viable operations. PRODUCT DISSEMINATION Dissemination is the process of delivering observations and forecast products to the end user, the marine operator. The process is complicated by the fact that the marine user's needs are diverse. Moreover, many of the marine users are remote from conventional shore-based communications, such as telephones and data links, and therefore depend on satellite or high-frequency radio communications. 1b this end, most major maritime countries maintain comprehensive marine weather broadcast capabilities to support their national maritime interests. The U.S. civil marine forecast dissemination capability ranks with those of the lesser-developed nations of the world, and continues to deteriorate on a year-by-year basis. Large, well-financed marine operators, such as the U.S. Navy, onshore oil and mineral exploration and production operators, and major shipping lines, provide their own in-house dissemination systems to support their unique needs. It is the large number of open-ocean fishermen, tug and barge operators, pleasure boaters, and coastal operators that are poorly served by the system. In terms of raw numbers of users, this aggregation of smaller users represents the majority of the total users. For phone-based users, NOAA operates a highly developed product dissemination system that includes · direct radio broadcasts to the public through the very high fre- quency (VHF) NOAA Weather Radio system; · facsimile broadcasts to government and nongovernment users; · automatic telephone answering devices operated by telephone com- panies that directly give the public weather information furnished by NWS stations; direct NWS-to-the-public telephones, including automatic answer- ing devices at NWS field offices and personalized services for public civil preparedness officials; · cooperative "hotline" telephone answering services that provide access to the latest hurricane advisories on a fee-per-call basis;
12 · special interfaces to the communications systems of the agencies; for example, Federal Aviation Administration (EAA) and Coast Guard networks, civil defense systems, and systems operated by private companies; and · a "family" of services for high-volume data users accessed in Wash- ington, D.C., including the Public Product Service channel, Domestic Data Service, International Data Service, and Numerical Product Service. Unfortunately, few of these services adequately serve the marine user on the seas. The direct public broadcasts over the NOAA Weather Radio support the coastal marine operator to the extent of the system's limited range and to the extent of the marine forecast time provided on the broadcast. The radio facsimile and radio teletype broadcasts are scheduled into limited time slots on Coast Guard marine frequencies, resulting in brief information transmissions that can be captured only by an alert marine operator. The landline services either directly or indirectly serve the casual pleasure boater or day sailer, but do not support the extended coastal or offshore operator. As a consequence, the U.S. open-ocean operator uses the services of other countries, if possible, and the services of the U.S. Navy full-period marine weather facsimile broadcasts issued from the regional Naval Oceanography Centers. DATA ARCHIVAL AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT The final arm of the provider picture is data archival and research and development. Data archival is fundamental to the support of the marine forecasting operations and its supporting research and development. All data that are received are screened for quality and retained in historical data files for future scientific and engineering applications. NOAA maintains the national atmosphere and ocean data archives in the National Oceanographic Data Center (NOD C3 for the oceans and the National Climatic Center (NCC) for the atmosphere. Satellite data are archived at the NCC. Strong research and development is fundamental to improving scien- tific capabilities and for providing the opportunities for the next generation, whose creativity and inspired management will implement services of to- morrow. Strong university programs not only provide the improved basic understanding needed to define and predict the ocean environment more accurately; but more important, they provide the cadre of trained scientific staff needed to staff and operate the entire environmental services system. Research and development to improve marine forecasting is a broadly based program. From a societal sense, it involves nearly every department within government, universities, and private industry. The dominant activ- ities are those of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic
13 and Atmospheric Administration. From a technological sense, applicable research programs involve a broad spectrum of technologies, including at- mospheric and oceanic physics, computers and computing methodologies, mathematical modeling, measurement and instrumentation, and many more basic studies. There has been considerable progress in recent years in research and development. Understanding of phenomenology of the ocean has progressed to the point where the first, basic set of internal ocean forecast models can be operationally employed, allowing the transition of ocean forecasting into a viable operational capability. In meteorology and in the marine boundary layer, forecast models of the atmosphere and ocean waves have become more precise and more accurate Technology programs have advanced ~ the areas of super- and micro-computers and in satellite remote sensing, creating new opportunities for advancing the operational capabilities for improved marine services.