FSL in Review 2000 - 2001

Cover/Title Page

Organizational Chart

Message from
the Director

Office of Administration
and Research

Forecast Research

Facility Division

Demonstration Division

Systems Development

Aviation Division

Modernization Division

International Division


Acronyms and Terms


Contact the Editor
Nita Fullerton

Web Design:
Will von Dauster
John Osborn

Best Viewed With
Internet Explorer

Office of Administration and Research

F. James Holitza, Director

Web Homepage: http://www.fsl.noaa.gov

Sandra J. Aschert, Administrative Officer, 303-497-6803
Sandra J. Chandler, Budget Analyst, 303-497-6282
Sybil Colitti, Administrative Technician, 303-497-4134
Fredric N. Gould, Computer Specialist, 303 -497-6861
Penny L. Granville, Budget Analyst, 303-497-6108
Phyllis L. Gunn, Program Analyst, 303-497-6625
Tracy L. Hoy, Administrative Technician, 303-497-6912
Rhonda K. Lange, Visitor Information Specialist, 303-497-6045
Bernard A. Metz, Computer Specialist, 303-497-6746
Gregory M. Phillips, Senior Systems Administrator, 303-497-7685
Kathleen (Katy) G. Stewart, Secretary Office Automation, 303-497-3090

(The above roster, current when document is published, includes
government, cooperative agreement, and commercial affiliate staff.)

NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory Mail Code: FSA
David Skaggs Research Center
325 Broadway
Boulder, Colorado 80305-3328


FSL was established on 23 October 1988, and is one of 12 research laboratories under the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the Department of Commerce. The mission of FSL is to transfer new technology and research findings in atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences to other NOAA offices and other users of environmental information. It conducts programs, involving the following activities, to evaluate, integrate, and apply these developments to environmental information and prediction systems:

  • Exploratory System Development – Anticipate requirements of NOAA's operational services and develop concepts in cooperation with operations specialists to meet these requirements. Test the utility of these concepts in environmental information and prediction systems for operations and data management.
  • Research Applications – Conduct applied research toward improved forecasting capabilities. Capitalize on technological advances and improved understanding of the atmosphere-land-ocean environment to develop improved techniques for geophysical observations, more effective data assimilation, and more accurate prediction models.
  • System Validation – Use real-time and archived data to test and evaluate hardware and software systems and their diagnostic and predictive output.
  • Technology Transfer – Work directly with users in expediting the transfer of new techniques and systems to operational use. Work toward effective dissemination of environmental information to foster highly informed decision-making.


The Office of the Director manages FSL, in addition to some special research programs conducted within the laboratory. Also under the Office of the Director is the Office of Administration and Research, which provides management support, administrative support led by an Administrative Officer, lT support, contract administration, and visitor and information services. The research and development activities are carried out by seven divisions, as follows.

  • The Forecast Research Division is home to most of the research in FSL on short-range forecasting and small-scale weather phenomena. High-resolution numerical models are developed to support the NWS and the aviation community with accurate short-range forecasts based on the latest observations. The Rapid Update Cycle (RUC), an operational system within the NWS, provides hourly updated national-scale numerical analyses and forecasts. The portable Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS) can integrate data from virtually every meteorological observation system into a very high-resolution gridded framework centered on any operational forecast office's domain of responsibility, and provides real-time, three-dimensional, local-scale analyses. The well-posed fourth-order accurate limited-area model can be used on any scale of motion anywhere on the globe. The division is also involved, along with other agencies, with the development of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model, a next-generation mesoscale forecast model and assimilation system that will advance both the understanding and prediction of important mesoscale weather. Another interesting research project within this division is the Global Air-ocean IN-situ System (GAINS), a program to develop a network of 400 high-tech balloons evenly distributed over the globe for collecting observations in data-sparse regions, such as the oceans. Extensive dynamical studies of mesoscale processes and the production of research-quality datasets enable division scientists to improve mesoscale analyses, data assimilation methods, and numerical weather prediction systems.

  • The Facility Division manages the computers, communications and data networks, and associated peripherals that FSL staff use to accomplish their research and systems-development mission. The FSL Central Facility comprises 60 computers ranging from workstations and servers to a High Performance Technologies, Inc. (HPTI) supercomputer. The facility contains a variety of meteorological data-ingest interfaces, storage devices, local- and wide-area networks, communications links to external networks, and display devices. Over 700 Internet Protocol-capable hosts and network devices include Unix hosts, PCs and Macintoshes, and network routers, hubs, and switches. These hardware and associated software enable FSL staff to design, develop, test, evaluate, and transfer to operations the advanced weather information systems and new forecasting techniques. Data and products are also provided for research activities at other NOAA Research Laboratories, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and university laboratories.

  • The Demonstration Division evaluates promising atmospheric observing technologies developed by NOAA and other federal agencies and organizations and determines their value in the operational domain. Activities range from the demonstration of scientific and engineering innovations to the management of new systems and technologies. Current activities include the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the NOAA Profiler Network (including three sites in Alaska), which provides data not available elsewhere and reliable hourly observations of winds from the surface to the lower stratosphere. The Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) technique has been demonstrated and proved beneficial for remote sensing of temperatures at profiler sites. A more recent project, the GPS-Met Demonstration Network, has shown that the addition of ground-based GPS water vapor observations to a numerical weather prediction model improves forecast accuracy, especially under conditions of active weather. Wind and temperature data from Boundary Layer Profilers operated by other organizations are also collected and distributed for research and operational use.

  • The Systems Development Division works closely with other FSL groups in providing technical expertise on functional specifications for new workstation and interactive display systems. Object-oriented technology is utilized to design and develop systems, such as the Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination (LDAD) system, which provide NWS forecasters access to detailed local mesoscale observations that enhance federal observing systems. State and local emergency preparedness agencies benefit from LDAD's gridded weather data, severe weather warnings and advisories, point observations, and radar precipitation data. Other systems include the Quality Control and Monitoring System (QCMS) that provides users and suppliers of hydrometeorological observations with readily available quality control statistics, two surface assimilation systems (MSAS and RSAS) that provide direct measurements of surface conditions and give crucial indicators of potential for severe weather, and the Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS) that provides quality- controlled observations and data access software to university and government data assimilation researchers.

  • The Aviation Division promotes safer skies through improved aviation weather products. In collaboration with the NWS, Federal Aviation Administration, and Departments of Defense and Transportation, and the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, it provides improved weather forecasting and visualization capability to civilian and military forecasters, pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline dispatchers. Through research and development of high-performance computing, it also ensures continued improvement of high-resolution numerical weather analysis and prediction systems.

  • The Modernization Division specifies requirements for advanced meteorological workstations, product and technique development, and new forecast preparation concepts and techniques. It manages the development and fielding of advanced prototype meteorological systems into operational NWS forecast offices, and performs objective evaluations of these operational systems. It played a major role in development and operational use of AWIPS at over 100 NWS forecast offices. It provides management and direction for research in the latest scientific and technical advances, with special emphasis on their potential application to operational meteorology.

  • The International Division oversees internal development of systems intended primarily for global or intemational application. It is involved in several international cooperative technology transfer agreements, such as implementation of a totally updated forecast center at the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan. The division also supports the successful GLOBE (Global Leaming and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program, an international environmental educational and research program that links the efforts of students, teachers, and scientists. More than 10,000 students worldwide monitor various environmental parameters and regularly post their findings on the Internet. GLOBE provides a unique global database of atmospheric, soil, biologic, and hydrologic measurements, which are used by researchers and students for a multitude of experiments. Development of the FSL WorldWide Weather Workstation (W4) is underway in support of improved information for synoptic and mesoscale weather forecasts and early warnings of severe weather events to international customers.


FSL is staffed by a combination of Civil Service employees, Joint Institute staff, Commercial Affiliates, and Visiting Scientists/Guest Workers. The Joint Institutes are the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), Fort Collins, Colorado; and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Boulder, Colorado. FSL is also supported by two commercial service affiliates: Systems Research Group, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado; and System Technology Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado. As of January 2001, FSL staff totaled 226 in the following categories: 92-Civil Service (including two NWS employees), 69-Joint Institutes (55 from CIRA and 14 from CIRES), 42-Commercial Affiliates, and 23-Visiting Scientists/Guest Workers.

A&R Figure - Employment Categories

Number of Employees by Category
Total Employees: 226 as of January 2001


Funding for FSL is received from a variety of sources. In Fiscal Year 2000, FSL received a total of $26.8M from the following sources: $8.1M-NOAA/OAR base funds, $12.8M-other NOAA funds, $5.2M-U.S. Government outside NOAA, and $.7M-Non-Federal. The main components of "other NOAA funds" included $5.4M-National Weather Service, $5. 1 M toward the purchase of a High-Performance Computer System and for research utilizing this system, and $2.3M for support of other NOAA projects. Other U.S. Government sources of funding included the Federal Aviation Administration from the Department of Transportation, both the Air Force and the Army from the Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Funding was also received from the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau, the Korea Meteorological Administration, Mitretek, and the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games.

A&R Figure - Funding Sources

FSL Funding Sources
Total: $26.8M – FY2000


An important aspect of the Visitor and Information Services program is arranging tours or visits and scheduling appropriate FSL staff to match special interests of the visitors. These services are provided for visitors from schools, the general public, government, private sector, and foreign countries. During Fiscal Year 2000, this office accommodated at least 2,323 visitors, not including visits arranged directly with FSL staff outside this office. The largest category of visitors came from academia, educators, and students, numbering 1,039. Other visitors included 603 from the general public, 543 from government, 76 from the private sector, and 62 from foreign countries, including Australia, Denmark, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

A&R Figure - Recorded Visitors

FSL Recorded Visitors
Total: 2,323 – FY2000

FSL Staff FSL in Review (Other Years) FSL Forum Publications