The National Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC) Inter-Agency program was established in 2010 to improve coordination and collaboration across the federally sponsored environmental research and operational prediction communities for the scientific development and operational implementation of improved global prediction at the weather to climate interface. Rather than emphasizing a single implementation of an air/land/sea/ice forecast system, the National ESPC is initially focused on identifying and developing sources of extended range predictability from synoptic to intraseasonal/interannual (ISI) timescales (NRC, BASC 2010) with the future addition of a multiannual to multi-decadal focus. Towards these goals, five focus projects monitor the state of science and predictability of subseasonal to intraseasonal/interannual earth system modes of variability. Researchers are invited to participate in the definition and execution of these projects.
Additionally, the National ESPC advocates for and supports the development of the basic architectural foundations such as common coupled modeling architectures, data and archive standards, computational efficiency and standardized forecast skill metrics. These supporting technologies will expand the scope of collaborative model development, common case studies and evaluation data sets to aid improved understanding of underlying physical processes.
In 2012, volunteer working groups across the weather and climate prediction communities established plans to coordinate future research efforts, and to coordinate ongoing efforts where appropriate. These efforts are to provide a unifying theme for developing the common modeling environment, establishing a community model repository of common data sets & test cases, and assess forecast skill at the ranges of interest against potential National ESPC stakeholder information needs. Ultimately these efforts will identify where sources of extended range predictability are sufficiently understood and reliable for use in future operational prediction with quantifiable uncertainty (NRC, BMSA 2012), at skill levels better than traditional approaches such as using long term climatological averages. Through this effort it is expected that critical path science and technology issues will be identified as future research challenges.
The National ESPC Focus topics are:
- Episodic Weather Extremes: Predictability of Blocking Events and Related High Impact Weather at Lead Times of 1-6 Weeks
- Seasonal Tropical Cyclone Threat: Predictability of Tropical Cyclone Likelihood, Mean Track, and Intensity from Weekly to Seasonal Timescales
- Arctic Sea Ice Extent and Seasonal Ice Free Dates: Predictability from Weekly to Seasonal Timescales
- Coastal Seas: Predictability of Circulation, Hypoxia, and Harmful Algal Blooms at Lead Times of 1-6 Weeks
- Open Ocean: Predictability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) from Monthly to Decadal Timescales
Informed by the our current understanding of the underlying science of predictability in environmental processes, we expect that National ESPC efforts will result in more accurate and longer range prediction for use in policy, investment, and implementation decisions affecting the economy and protection of the US population. As largely a coordinating activity across the National ESPC stakeholder agencies (NOAA, Navy, Air Force, DoE, NASA and NSF) this effort will seek to coordinate and enhance sponsor-level multi-year investments from basic science through acquisition and operations.