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:
- MesoWest. MesoWest is a real-time cooperative mesonet data exchange that provides access to weather observations from more than 180 government, educational, and commercial data providers at over 6000 surface stations around the nation, with an emphasis upon the western United States. The Real-Time Observation Monitor and Analysis Network (ROMAN) web-page interface provides access to MesoWest observations for fire weather applications.
- Data assimilation in complex terrain. CIRP generates surface analyses of temperature, wind, relative humidity, and pressure by combining the MesoWest data with background fields provided by the NCEP RUC2 analysis. Improving data assimilation in complex terrain is the major focus of CIRP research activities for the next several years.
- Mesoscale modeling and predictability in complex terrain. A real-time version of the Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model version 5 (MM5) had been run routinely for several years. Our focus is now shifting towards testing the next generation WRF model.
- Cool-season precipitation processes and prediction. Basic research conducted at CIRP has produced conceptual models and forecast techniques that have improved the analysis and prediction of lake-effect and orographic storms.
- Field Programs. Interest in the forecast challenges and difficulty in simulating weather in complex terrain helped to foster the Intermountain Precipitation Experiment and Vertical Transport and Mixing Experiment field programs held during 2000 in northern Utah. Numerous scientific publications and improved understanding of orographic precipitation and air quality in urban basins will follow from these field programs.
- Annual Intermountain Workshops. CIRP sponsors annual Intermountain Weather Workshops that are attended by weather professionals from across the western United States.
- Publications. Over the past 3 years (2000-2003) CIRP scientists have disseminated research results to the wider community by authoring or co-authoring 18 publications in Weather and forecasting, Monthly Weather Review, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and Journal of Applied Meteorology.
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.
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.
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
- Cox, J. A. W., W. J. Steenburgh, D. E. Kingsmill, J. C. Shafer, B. A. Colle, O. Bousquet, B. F. Smull, and H. Cai, 2004: The kinematic structure of a Wasatch Mountain winter storm during IPEX IOP3. Submitted to Mon. Wea. Rev.
- Hart, K. A., W. J. Steenburgh, D. J. Onton, and A. J. Siffert, 2004: An evaluation of mesoscale model based model output statistics (MOS) during the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Wea. Forecasting, in press.
Horel, J., E. Delgado, M. Splitt, J. Pechmann, B. Olsen, T. Mathewson, 2004: ROMAN- Realtime Observation Monitoring and Analysis Network. Submitted to International Journal of Wildland Fire. pdf text pdf figures
Myrick, D., J. Horel, S. Lazarus, 2004: Local adjustment of the background error correlation for surface analyses over complex terrain. Submitted to Wea. Forecasting.
Ludwig, F., J. Horel, C. D. Whiteman, 2004: Using EOF analysis to identify important surface wind patterns in mountain valleys. J. Climate and Appl. Meteor. In press.
Steenburgh, W. J., 2004: One hundred inches in one hundred hours - The complex evolution of an Intermountain winter storm cycle. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., in press.
Clements, C. B., C. D. Whiteman, J. D. Horel, 2003: Cold air pool structure and evolution in a mountain basin. J. Appl. Meteor. 42, 752-768.
- Horel, J., 2003: Terrain-forced mesoscale circulations. Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water: Dynamics, Climate, Physical Meteorology, Weather Systems, and Measurements. Edited by T. Potter and B. Colman. Wiley and Sons. 562-573.
- Steenburgh, W. J., 2003: One hundred inches in one hundred hours: Evolution of a Wasatch Mountain winter storm cycle. Wea. Forecasting, 18, 1018-1036.
- Schultz, D. M., W. J. Steenburgh, R. J. Trapp, J. Horel, D. E. Kingsmill, L. B. Dunn, W. D. Rust, L. Cheng, A. Bansemer, J. Cox, J. Daugherty, D. P. Jorgensen, J. Meitin, L. Showell, B. F. Smull, K. Tarp, and M. Trainor, 2002: Understanding Utah winter storms: The Intermountain Precipitation Experiment. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 189-210.
- Horel, J., M. Splitt, L. Dunn, J. Pechmann, B. White, C. Ciliberti, S. Lazarus, J. Slemmer, D. Zaff, J. Burks, 2002: MesoWest: Cooperative Mesonets in the Western United States. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 211-226.
- Horel, J., T. Potter, L. Dunn, W. J. Steenburgh, M. Eubank, M. Splitt, and D. J. Onton, 2002: Weather support for the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 227-240.
- Doran, C., J. Fast, J. Horel, 2002: The VTMX 2000 Campaign. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 537-551.
Stewart, J. Q., C. D. Whiteman, W. J. Steenburgh, and X. Bian, 2002: A climatological study of thermally driven wind systems of the U.S. Intermountain West. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 699-708.
Lazarus, S., C. Ciliberti, J. Horel, K. Brewster, 2002: Near-real-time Applications of a Mesos
cale Analysis System to Complex Terrain. Wea. Forecasting. 17, 971-1000.
- Onton, D. J., and W. J. Steenburgh, 2001: Diagnostic and sensitivity studies of the 7 December 1998 Great Salt Lake-effect snowstorm. Mon. Wea. Rev., 129, 1318-1338.
- Steenburgh, W. J., and T. R. Blazek, 2001: Topographic distortion of a cold front over the Snake River Plain and central Idaho Mountains. Wea. Forecasting. 16, 301-314.
- Steenburgh, W. J., and D. J. Onton, 2001: Multiscale analysis of the 7 December 1998 Great Salt Lake-effect snowstorm. Mon. Wea. Rev., 129, 1296-1317.
- 2000 and before
- Mass, C. F., and W. J. Steenburgh, 2000: An observational and numerical study of an orographically trapped wind reversal along the west coast of the U.S. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128, 2363-2396.
- Steenburgh, W. J., S. F. Halvorson, and D. J. Onton, 2000: Climatology of lake-effect snowstorms of the Great Salt Lake. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128, 709-727.
- Schultz, D. M., and W. J. Steenburgh, 1999: The formation of a forward-tilting cold front with multiple cloud bands during Superstorm 1993. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127, 1108-1124.
- Steenburgh, W. J., D. M. Schultz, and B. A. Colle, 1998: The structure and evolution of gap outflow over the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico. Mon. Wea. Rev., 126, 2673-2691.
- White, B. G., J. Paegle, W. J. Steenburgh, J. D. Horel, R. T. Swanson, L. K. Cook, D. J. Onton, and J. G. Miles, 1999: Short-term forecast validation of six models. Wea. Forecasting., 14, 84-107.
- Myrick, D. T., 2003: An Improvement to Data Assimilation Over Complex Terrain. M.S. thesis, Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 56 pp.
- Shafer, J. C. 2002: Synoptic and mesoscale structure of a Wasatch Mountain winter storm. M.S. thesis, Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 65 pp.
- Cox, J. A. W., 2002: Kinematic structure of a Wasatch Mountain snowstorm. M.S. thesis,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 55 pp.
- Holland, L. D., 2002: Downslope Windstorms along the Wasatch Front. M.S. thesis,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 85 pp.
- Cheng, L., 2001: Validation of Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts During the Intermountain Precipitation Experiment. M. S. Thesis,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 105 pp.
- Siffert, A. J., 2001: Point-specific MOS forecasts for the 2002 Winter Games. M.S. thesis,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 51 pp.
- Clements, C., 2001: The Peter Sinks Experiment, M. S. Thesis,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 105 pp.
- Onton, D. J., 2000: An observational and numerical modeling
investigation of Great Salt Lake-effect snow. Ph.D. dissertation,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 131 pp.
- Blazek, T. R., 2000: Analysis of a Great Basin cyclone and attendant
mesoscale features. M. S. Thesis, Dept. of Meteorology,
University of Utah, 122 pp.
- Halvorson, S. F., 1999: Climatology of lake-effect snowstorms of
the Great Salt Lake. M. S. thesis, Dept. of Meteorology, University
of Utah, 78 pp.
- Cook, L. K., 1998: An evaluation of mesoscale model performance over
the intermountain region of the United States. M. S. thesis,
Dept. of Meteorology, University of Utah, 76 pp.
For further information regarding the Institute, please