Hurricane Model Development at GFDL: A Collaborative Success Story from an Historical Perspective

Publication Year


Journal Article

The hurricane project at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) was established in 1970. By the mid-1970s pioneering research had led to the development of a new hurricane model. As the reputation of the model grew, GFDL was approached in 1986 by the director of the National Meteorological Center about establishing a collaboration between the two federal organizations to transition the model into an operational modeling system. After a multiyear effort by GFDL scientists to develop a system that could support rigorous requirements of operations, and multiyear testing had demonstrated its superior performance compared to existing guidance products, operational implementation was made in 1995. Through collaboration between GFDL and the U.S. Navy, the model was also made operational at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in 1996. GFDL scientists continued to support and improve the model during the next two decades by collaborating with other scientists at GFDL, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Environmental Modeling Center (EMC),1 the National Hurricane Center, the U.S. Navy, the University of Rhode Island (URI), Old Dominion University, and the NOAA Hurricane Research Division. Scientists at GFDL, URI, and EMC collaborated to transfer key components of the GFDL model to the NWS new Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (HWRF) that became operational in 2007. The purpose of the article is to highlight the critical role of these collaborations. It is hoped that the experiences of the authors will serve as an example of how such collaboration can benefit the nation with improved weather guidance products.

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Date Published
September 2019
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