New $50 million hurricane research center: a bad idea

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:28 PM GMT on July 01, 2009

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Hurricane track forecasts have improved by about 50% over the past twenty years, which has undoubtedly saved many lives and billions of dollars. These forecast improvements have primarily resulted from the investment made in hurricane research, which has been funded at approximately $50 million per year over that period. To me, it is unfathomable that our nation spends so little on scientific research that provides such an incredible value. The President's National Science Board, which makes budget recommendations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), agrees, and recommended a six-fold increase in hurricane research spending to $300 million per year in a 2007 report. But exactly how much "bang for the buck" are we getting from hurricane research? The answer is murky, making it difficult to excite the kind of attention and political appeal needed to give hurricane research funding the big shot in the arm it deserves. However, recent moves by the Obama administration show that they are taking notice of the need to spend more money on hurricane research. But, a recent proposal by Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, to build a new $50 million hurricane research center in Orlando, is the wrong way to boost hurricane research.


Figure 1. A science team led by NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD) prepares for a mission into Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Image credit: NOAA/HRD.

How current hurricane research is funded
In 2008, about $50 million was spent by the U.S. government on hurricane research, with about 25% of this total going to maintain the facilities that do the research. The $50 million funded 228 person-years of research. About 35% of this was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the rest of the money coming from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and NASA. An additional $4 million was earmarked by Congress in 2008 to fund NOAA's promising new effort to improve hurricane intensity forecasts--the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP).

Where future funding increases should go: HFIP and JHT
The President's proposed FY 2010 budget continues the roughly $50 million dollars the hurricane research community traditionally gets, but adds $13 million in funding for the HFIP effort. To me, this is a great way to channel new hurricane research funding, as the HFIP effort is heavily focused on improving hurricane intensity forecasts, which have not improved at all over the past twenty years. Specific advancements outlined in the HFIP plan include:

1) Improving hurricane track forecast accuracy by 50% out to 5 days by 2018.
2) Improving hurricane intensity forecast accuracy by 50% out to 5 days by 2018.
3) Extending the lead time for hurricane forecasts out to 7 days.
4) Reducing the false alarm rate for rapid intensity forecasts.
5) Increasing the probability of detection of rapid intensification.

Another great way to boost hurricane research funding would be to put more money into NOAA's Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT) project. This $1 million per year program has funded 50 separate hurricane research efforts over since 2001, 30 of which have been adopted operationally by the National Hurricane Center. Examples of successful JHT projects include the successful integration of the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) surface wind measurement instrument into NHC operations; improvements to the GFDL and HWRF computer models; and improving techniques to make a "consensus" forecast based on the output of our four best computer models. However, no new money for JHT has been proposed in the FY 2010 budget, though some of the money earmarked for HFIP may flow into JHT.

A new $50 million hurricane research center proposed
Instead, a new proposal for hurricane research funding has been championed by Representative Alan Grayson, D-Florida. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Grayson is pushing for a new $50 million hurricane research center to be built in Orlando. He demanded that such a hurricane research center be built in exchange for his vote for the controversial climate change bill passed Friday by the U.S. House, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. There is no language in the actual bill authorizing funds for such a center--Grayson merely has the word of democratic lawmakers, including President Obama, that such a center would be built. "I think it's a very worthwhile project. I look forward to working on it and making it a priority as the legislative process moves along," said U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who sponsored the bill, in the Orlando Sentinel article. The center could be constructed with funds aimed at helping states "study and adapt to climate change," money that would not be available until 2012 at the earliest. The hurricane center is "among the type of activities that would be eligible to receive funding," Waxman said. "We've never had anything [like this] come into this district before, ever," said Grayson, a freshman lawmaker. "This will be the world-leading facility for hurricane research. This will draw people from all over the world."

Well, I have championed efforts to give more funding to hurricane research over the years, and I think the $300 million per year in funding for the National Hurricane Research Initiative proposed in 2007 by the President's National Science Board is what is needed. However, I think Grayson's proposed new hurricane center is a bad idea. Florida already has a world-leading facility for hurricane research, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key, and does not need another. The U.S. hurricane research community has an infrastructure in place that works, and the best way to foster hurricane research is to pump money into this existing infrastructure. I talked with a number of senior hurricane research scientists about the idea of a new hurricane research center, and none of them supported it. It's great that Rep. Grayson's wants to put new much-needed funding into hurricane research, but he didn't consult with the experts to see if a new research center was a good way to do this. It isn't. Where are all of the scientists needed to staff such a center going to come from? Presumably, they will be drawn from existing successful research teams, leading to the disruption of these proven research efforts. Adding a new national research center with a new bureaucracy with new management needing on-the-job training will dilute and distract from current hurricane research efforts, and is not a good way to spend $50 million. Several senior hurricane research scientists are going to be reaching out to Rep. Grayson over the next few months to make him more aware of the abilities and needs of the hurricane research community. Hopefully, these efforts will result in a more productive way for the Congressman to boost hurricane research. If you live in Rep. Grayson's district, I recommend you contact him to express your desire to see him champion a more effective way to boost hurricane research than with his proposed $50 million hurricane research center. Putting the $50 million into the National Hurricane Research Initiative (HFIP) effort would be a better use of the funds. To his credit, Rep. Grayson is a co-sponsor of the National Hurricane Research Initiative of 2009 (H.R. 327), a bill introduced into the House of Representatives on January 8, 2009. This bill is a lesser ($150 million per year) version of the $300 million per year National Hurricane Research Initiative proposed in 2007 by the President's National Science Board.

Good links for HFIP information are at:

http://www.nrc.noaa.gov/HFIPDraftPlan.html
http://www.dtcenter.org/plots/hrh_test/workshop20 09/presentations/1_Gall_HRH%20HFIP%20presentation. pdf

Some summaries of recent HFIP activities in the last year are at:

http://www.dtcenter.org/plots/hrh_test/index.php
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/research/tropical _cyclones/hfip/workshop_2009/

My next post will be Friday, when I'll have the first half of July hurricane outlook.

Jeff Masters

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783. beell
LOL-A very big difference! I think the TUTT is gonna creep back into the picture over the Carribean-which would suggest higher shear.

And there will always be some difference between "Shear" and "Zonal" Shear-Easterly or Westerly shear is much more of a negative for development.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


Can you believe i got a 24hr ban..my first..LOL


So many get away with murder on here and then you get banned.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting TampaSpin:


Shear is currently around 30-40kts but, its forecast to drop to nearly nothing by the 5th. This could become the first possibly!


It will also be in the Caribbean, so if it did develop, it will threaten land
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting beell:
06Z GFS 200mb - 850mb Zonal Shear


Beell.....here was the Shear forecast i was looking at......HUM! Big difference in the forecast.......

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Quoting TampaSpin:


Shear is currently around 30-40kts but, its forecast to drop to nearly nothing by the 5th. This could become the first possibly!


Yeh, somebody mentioned it yesterday,but I wouldn't believe it,not Tampa
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welcome to my world, Tampa...

;)
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Can you believe i got a 24hr ban..my first..LOL
You, of all people, to be banned!
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Can you believe i got a 24hr ban...LOL


For what lol?
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Quoting StormW:


I'm gonna buy a life vest...got another 2.82" yesterday. That makes 7.44" in 2 days.


Us New Englanders are trying to keep up with you Florida,talk about torrential downpours coming to work this morning. And a lot more to come today.
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Quoting NEwxguy:
Hey,Tampa,good to see ya,was asking people where you disappeared to


Can you believe i got a 24hr ban..my first..LOL
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Hey,Tampa,good to see ya,was asking people where you disappeared to
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772. beell
06Z GFS 200mb - 850mb Zonal Shear
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Quoting hahaguy:


It looks decent.


Shear is currently around 30-40kts but, its forecast to drop to nearly nothing by the 5th. This could become the first possibly!
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Very nice mid Level spin at 10N 50W that might have a good chance to develop! Not much in vorticity there yet but, just something to look at for the Islands.

Click to loop!
Link


It looks decent.
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Very nice mid Level spin at 10N 50W that might have a good chance to develop! Not much in vorticity there yet but, just something to look at for the Islands.

Click to loop!

Link

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My Local Weather:
John Wayne-Orange County, California
65 °F
Mostly Cloudy


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Quoting sporteguy03:


Was there a blog in 2004?


I think the blog started in 2005.
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765. IKE
Quoting Dar9895:

Remember in the incredible 2004 hurricane season, I remember in this site from mid-July to last day of July before Alex, some comments were:
an inactive season, an total ACE well under 150, at least one major hurricane landfall in the U.S and the Caribbean and many more...
Remember that it is perfectly impossible to have no hurricane or one in a season and never be astonished and under-estimated an hurricane season instead a weak to moderate el nino.
One major hurricane can devastated an area in the Caribbean or another place....similar to Allen and Andrew or Alicia.



I know what happened in 2004, as do 99% of the folks on here. I wish for none of that.

Seems like about 1/2 of the posts on here are copy and paste.

I bet I've read that comment about comparing this year to 2004 at least 100 times.

LOL...now I know why destinjeff posts his blog sayings all of the time...funny and so true.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Blog Update
Reflector site for those at work, which now also includes Weather456, daily updates


AOI

AOI
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Quoting Dar9895:

Remember in the incredible 2004 hurricane season, I remember in this site from mid-July to last day of July before Alex, some comments were:
an inactive season, an total ACE well under 150, at least one major hurricane landfall in the U.S and the Caribbean and many more...
Remember that it is perfectly impossible to have no hurricane or one in a season and never be astonished and under-estimated an hurricane season instead a weak to moderate el nino.
One major hurricane can devastated an area in the Caribbean or another place....similar to Allen and Andrew or Alicia.


Was there a blog in 2004?
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Hope everyone has a great 4th of July,We might even have the sun come out for a little while this weekend.
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Quoting IKE:


Yawn:)

Hope it continues.

151 more days left.

Remember in the incredible 2004 hurricane season, I remember in this site from mid-July to last day of July before Alex, some comments were:
an inactive season, an total ACE well under 150, at least one major hurricane landfall in the U.S and the Caribbean and many more...
Remember that it is perfectly impossible to have no hurricane or one in a season and never be astonished and under-estimated an hurricane season instead a weak to moderate el nino.
One major hurricane can devastated an area in the Caribbean or another place....similar to Allen and Andrew or Alicia.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
760. IKE
Defuniak Springs, FL
Clear
88 °F
Clear


Already approaching 90. Not even 10 am CDST.

May they let you RIP...MJ..your best song:)
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Back at ya Storm. Are we in for another gully washer day ? I am going to have to dig out my hip waders if this continues ;)
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
July 2nd and not a single invest or storm around the globe. Pretty amayzing.


Yeah, but maybe it is the calm before all the invests......meaning it could be a very active couple of months around the globe.

I am very surprised that there is not even in invest in the WPAC, usually there is at least 1 invest, if not several.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
757. IKE
Quoting sporteguy03:


I find this year interesting and not such a yawner, I'll set your alarm clock:)


606 more GFS runs and it's over 8:)
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Ossqss:
Here is an iteresting tid bit on cost and savings to society from better technology relating to hurricane predictions. BTW, there is much more on this site than just this page :)

Link


That was a good read.
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Quoting IKE:


Yawn:)

Hope it continues.

151 more days left.


I find this year interesting and not such a yawner, I'll set your alarm clock:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here is an iteresting tid bit on cost and savings to society from better technology relating to hurricane predictions. BTW, there is much more on this site than just this page :)

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


Yawn:)

Hope it continues.

151 more days left.

Yes we can hope but we should know we only in early July and it is far to be the season peak.
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750. IKE
Quoting clwstmchasr:
July 2nd and not a single invest or storm around the globe. Pretty amayzing.


Yawn:)

Hope it continues.

151 more days left.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
749. IKE
Did these poor folks even know what hit them?

(CNN) -- The Air France plane that crashed last month with 228 people aboard "did not break up or become destroyed in flight," the French air investigation agency announced Thursday.

"The plane went straight down ... towards the surface of the water, very very fast," air accident investigator Alain Bouillard said.

Based on visual study of the physical remains of the Airbus A330 that have been recovered, "we were able to see that the plane hit the surface of the water flat. Therefore everything was pushed upwards -- everthing was pushed from the bottom to the top" of the plane, he said.

The 228 people killed in the crash "had no time to prepare," he said.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Maybe they are seeding around the globe
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I know it isn't related to gov't funding of research, but another aspect of gov't intervention related to hurricane and their costs is attached in the article by WSJ.

I apologize if too far off the mark as far as the discussion, but I would like some thoughts on this. I think Dr. Master's had an article on this at one-time as it relates to mitigation, but I have not had any luck in finding it.

Oh, forgot to say: Long-time reader, first-time poster here.

Thanks.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123371173559046209.html
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745. Skyepony (Mod)
Allstar~ I'd say very little chance at this point.
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The wave at 50 W is firing some convection, albeit a little, but it is in a very dry environment
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
There does appear to be a bit of a swirl in the BOC. Is there any chance for the wave at 50W to develop eventually???
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
741. Inyo
If the government didn't sponsor science this country would be very, very different. much worse off in my opinion. There is the danger of politics getting involved in science as there is with politics getting involved with ANYTHING else... but we don't live under some kind of monarchy where King George hires scientists and cuts off the heads of the ones he doesn't like. Our country is run by elected representitives, as you all know, and if the representitives are bad, we should get rid of them, not blame the scientists.

I know a lot of (publically funded) scientists and most of them are way more devoted to figuring out how the world works than to politics of any sort. There are bad scientists just like anyone else but they are certainly no more likely to be corrupted than people in the private sector.
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That wave off the African coast would have had a very good shot to develop if all that dust was not there. It has a very potent mid-level circulation. It may have to be watched if it can sneak into a more favorable environment later on.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting Skyepony:
BOC swirl caught my eye. 10-20kts shear.. Here's WALTON's disscussion on it.

A SURFACE TROUGH IS OVER THE BAY OF CAMPECHE
FROM 16N92W TO 20N91W. SURFACE CONVERGENCE NEAR THE TROUGH ALONG
WITH UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENCE BETWEEN AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE OVER
MEXICO AND AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE WRN CARIBBEAN ARE
SUPPORTING A LARGE CLUSTER OF NUMEROUS SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS
OVER THE YUCATAN PENINSULA AND THE BAY OF CAMPECHE FROM 16N-21N
BETWEEN 91W-94W.


Is there any chance for development?
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
738. Skyepony (Mod)
Here's the RGB loop of the gulf. Neat outflow boundry from it.
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737. Skyepony (Mod)
BOC swirl caught my eye. 10-20kts shear.. Here's WALTON's disscussion on it.

A SURFACE TROUGH IS OVER THE BAY OF CAMPECHE
FROM 16N92W TO 20N91W. SURFACE CONVERGENCE NEAR THE TROUGH ALONG
WITH UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENCE BETWEEN AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE OVER
MEXICO AND AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE WRN CARIBBEAN ARE
SUPPORTING A LARGE CLUSTER OF NUMEROUS SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS
OVER THE YUCATAN PENINSULA AND THE BAY OF CAMPECHE FROM 16N-21N
BETWEEN 91W-94W.
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Quoting Cazatormentas:
Hail stones like eggs could be seen yesterday in Vitoria and a supercell storm was chased over La Rioja, both places in the northern Iberian Peninsula. If you want to see some photographs, please visit our website: http://www.cazatormentas.net/


Is that unusual weather there?

Chasing?

Remember to Respect the Wind
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Quoting RTLSNK:


70*F in Macon, Ga this morning headed to 97*F.
Orca, my area is the 3 car garage, it holds my Escape, her Camry, my Harley, and my lawn tractor, what space is left I filled up with a work bench, tool cases, and various lawn equipment, I keep them dirty and dusty, and allow lots of spiders to build webs all over the place. The little guys take care of all the insects that somehow manage to get into the garage, but not only that, they keep her out of my garage! :)


True, the garage is mine :)
Thats where my workshop is to keep the tools... to build her stuff.
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I'm so excited - family has arrived. Why oh why couldn't 93L have at least scared them away?!?
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Good Morning.
There is only one thing to say this day..
SAL rules.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.