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Naval Oceanography Leverages Better Science, Communications to Deliver Better Results

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS160921-01
Release Date: 9/21/2016 8:43:00 AM

From Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command Public Affairs Office

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy faces numerous strategic challenges and the Naval Oceanography community is leveraging better science and communications to deliver better results for maintaining maritime superiority.

This was the message Capt. Keith Williams, commanding officer of Fleet Weather Center Norfolk, delivered to members of the National Weather Association in a keynote address at their annual meeting, Sept. 15.

"Some of the biggest global strategic drivers are those that we in meteorology and oceanography know well, such as extreme drought, tropical cyclone intensification, regional El Nino and La Nina impacts and a potentially seasonally ice-free Arctic," Williams said.

Three evolving areas have contributed greatly to maritime superiority: environmental sensing capabilities, numerical modeling and tactical decision aids. Williams specifically cited Naval Oceanography's two decades of experience with unmanned systems, as well as high-performance computing which has enabled coupled modeling and allowed the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) to make significant improvements to the accuracy of their track forecasts over the last five years.

"In resource protection terms, a 26 percent reduction in mean track error at five days can mean the difference between getting the fleet underway or not," Williams said. "Getting this recommendation right translates to tens of millions of dollars in cost savings every year."

He further noted that knowing the track and intensity of a tropical cyclone can provide tactical advantages as well.

"Our tactical decision aids translate measured and derived weather parameters into a composite understanding of how the physical environment may impact particular operations," he added. "Apart from improved model physics the greatest advances in tactical decision aids will be realized through collaboration across the Navy's warfare communities to deliver the models, databases and observations these decision aids require."

In the future, he said, collaborative modeling solutions will achieve even more accurate and longer range forecasting. An example is the Earth System Prediction Capability or ESPC, a multi-agency next generation global ensemble capability that will fully couple atmosphere, sea, ice and land interfaces in a numerical model. The goal is to achieve time-scales ranging from hours to 90 days.

The National ESPC Project leverages the expertise of the entire U.S. weather community, including the Department of Defense, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, to accelerate research to operations of the U.S. National environmental capability.

Within the next year, Williams said that the Navy will leverage the National Weather Service's (NWS) 20 years of technological advances and collaboration with the community of interest, when NMOC's Fleet Weather Centers and JTWC migrate their forecast applications and processing to NWS' Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System II.

Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC), part of the information warfare community, directs and oversees the collection, processing and exploitation of accurate, relevant and timely oceanographic, meteorological, hydrographic, precise time and astrometric information to help naval and joint forces operate more safely and effectively, and make better decisions faster than the adversary. CNMOC is assigned as Commander, Task Group 80.7 under U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Fleet Weather Center Norfolk is a subordinate of the globally distributed Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

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