NOAA Cooperative Institute for Regional Prediction


Beginning with modest funding from the NWS/UCAR COMET program in 1991, faculty and students at the University of Utah began applied research in cooperation with forecasters at the Salt Lake City WFO and staff at the Scientific Services Division of the Western Region of the National Weather Service (NWS). Building upon the foundation provided by COMET, the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Regional Prediction (CIRP) was established by NOAA and the University of Utah in 1996 to conduct research that would lead to improvements in operational forecasts in regions of complex terrain. CIRP has contributed to improved knowledge of western U.S. meteorology, provided advanced training for operational meteorologists, and produced operational monitoring and prediction tools that benefit the public. Although the 2002 Winter Olympic Games served as an initial focal point for many CIRP activities, the ultimate goal for establishing CIRP and for CIRP’s participation in the Olympic support effort was to provide long-term benefits to the public and the atmospheric science community. The partnership of government, private sector, and academic groups assembled to provide weather support for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games contributed to one of the most successful Winter Olympics in history.

CIRP's annual budget of roughly $700,000, which is provided by the National Weather Service, National Science Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy and other agencies , supports the research, educational, and public service activities of two faculty (Horel and Steenburgh) and their 4 staff members, and 7 graduate students. NWS base funding for the next 3 years (2004-2007) has recently been awarded by the NWS through a competitive proposal process.

The mission of the Institute is to foster a broad research program aimed at improving weather and climate prediction in regions of complex terrain, with emphasis placed on weather and cli­mate issues of the Great Basin, Colorado River Basin, and other regions of the western United States. The Institute has identified research objectives to be accomplished during the next 5 years that focus on the science priorities of the USWRP program. These objectives are intended to transfer improved scientific understanding and technological advancements to local forecast offices and National Centers. Institute objectives for the next 5 years include: (1) conduct basic and applied research on problems related to the interaction of atmospheric flows and com­plex terrain; (2) improve access to surface weather observations throughout the nation; (3) improve data assimilation in regions of complex terrain; and (4) improve numerical weather pre­diction over complex terrain.

Some of the highlights of CIRP activities include:

The Institute is housed administratively in the Department of Meteorology, which is part of the College of Mines and Earth Sciences. Professor John Horel is Director of the Institute.

Visiting CIRP

The location of the Institute is the fourth floor of the Intermountain Network and Scientific Computation Center, next to the W. Browning building. A map and directions to CIRP are available here.

Institute Personnel

  • Staff
    John Horel - Director
    Jim Steenburgh - Associate Director
    Steve Krueger - Fellow
    Jan Paegle - Fellow
    Julia Paegle - Fellow
    Judy Pechmann - Staff Scientist
    Will Cheng - Staff Scientist
    Mike Splitt - Staff Scientist
    Brian Olsen - Staff Scientist
    Bryan White - System Administrator
  • Graduate Students
    Justin Cox
    Erik Crosman
    Ken Hart
    David Myrick
    Jay Shafer
    Dan Zumpfe
    Greg West

    Research Activitites

    • Applied Research and Development

      The CIRP Consortium has been created to support the applied research and development underway.

      MesoWest provides timely access to surface observations in the western United States to operational forecasters, the research community, and the public. Surface observations from a variety of federal, state, and local agencies are combined into a common data base. The ARPS Data Assimilation System (ADAS) is used to integrate the observations into analyses of surface weather conditions.
      ROMAN provides current observations and analyses for use by the fire weather community.
      The Intermountain Weather Forecast System provides numerical forecasts out to 36 h on 36, 12, and 4 km grids centered over the Intermountain West four times daily.
    • Major Milestones
      IPEX- Intermountain Precipitation Experiment. A field program held during February 2000 on winter orographic precipitation.
      VTMX-Vertical Transport and Mixing Experiment. A field program held during October 2000 on boundary layer processes in urban basins.
      The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in the Salt Lake area. Considerable work was completed in support of the Olympic weather support team.