Jason Samenow in the Washington Post: “In a month, the National Weather Service plans to launch its “next generation” weather prediction model with the aim of “better, more timely forecasts.” But many meteorologists familiar with the model fear it is unreliable.
The introduction of a model that forecasters lack confidence in matters, considering the enormous impact that weather has on the economy, valued at around $485 billion annually.
The Weather Service announced Wednesday that the model, known as the GFS-FV3 (FV3 stands for Finite Volume Cubed-Sphere dynamical core), is “tentatively” set to become the United States’ primary forecast model on March 20, pending tests. It is an update to the current version of the GFS (Global Forecast System), popularly known as the American model, which has existed in various forms for more than 30 years
A concern is that if forecasters cannot rely on the FV3, they will be left to rely only on the European model for their predictions without a credible alternative for comparisons. And they’ll also have to pay large fees for the European model data. Whereas model data from the Weather Service is free, the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which produces the European model, charges for access.
But there is an alternative perspective, which is that forecasters will just need to adjust to the new model and learn to account for its biases. That is, a little short-term pain is worth the long-term potential benefits as the model improves
The Weather Service’s parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recently entered an agreement with the National Center for Atmospheric Research to increase collaboration between forecasters and researchers in improving forecast modeling.
In addition, President Trump recently signed into law the Weather Research and Forecast Innovation Act Reauthorization, which establishes the NOAA Earth Prediction Innovation Center, aimed at further enhancing prediction capabilities. But even while NOAA develops relationships and infrastructure to improve the Weather Service’s modeling, the question remains whether the FV3 can meet the forecasting needs of the moment. Until the problems identified are addressed, its introduction could represent a step back in U.S. weather prediction despite a well-intended effort to leap forward….(More).