The DTC is at an interesting pivot point in its 19-year history as it has the opportunity to redirect its efforts back to its original imperative of advanced numerical weather prediction (NWP) testing and evaluation. This opportunity is due to the establishment of the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC). As stated in the DTC charter, “The DTC was initiated in 2003 as a means for the NWP community to test and evaluate new models, technologies, and techniques for use in research and operations and serves as a bridge between research and operations to facilitate the activities of both halves of the NWP community in pursuit of their own objectives…”. Likewise, the goal of EPIC is to “Accelerate scientific research and modeling contributions through continuous and sustained community engagement to produce the most accurate and reliable operational modeling systems in the world.” The DTC and EPIC include a development environment, use of high-performance computing, code repository, observations and tools, and delivery of data with the latest codes, utilities, documentation, and user support.
From a distance, it appears that there is now some overlap between the DTC and EPIC, given that the DTC has been performing similar services as those envisioned for a fully established EPIC. In fact, the DTC’s role over several years expanded to include a larger fraction of user support and code management. So with these activities now shifting to EPIC, the DTC can rebalance its portfolio to focus its unique expertise on the critical areas of hierarchical testing and evaluation of community contributed model enhancements.
The DTC leadership team has been working hard over the last two years to ensure that while EPIC is ramped up, the tasks previously performed by the DTC and planned for EPIC would transition to EPIC. Given the DTC’s successful history and extensive experience in user support, community engagement, code management, and documentation among other topics, it is imperative that EPIC take advantage of this experience. As this transition of tasks takes place, it is critical that the DTC and EPIC collaborate closely to define their respective roles in the advancement of NWP capabilities and clearly articulate these roles to the user community. Advancing the nation’s weather prediction capabilities and improving model performance skill requires that the DTC and EPIC work hand-in-glove in a tightly coordinated fashion. Annual work plans need to be synchronized to the greatest extent possible to optimize the roles of both centers. The leadership and governing bodies of both the DTC and EPIC need to consider tasking that is complementary. As stated by Maoyi Huang, EPIC Program Manager, Weather Program Office, NOAA, “DTC’s experience and expertise in code management, and user and developer support for the UFS weather code base and applications are indispensable assets to the community.” The community’s ability to effectively utilize the expertise and capabilities of both the DTC and EPIC is dependent on both centers working in unison and in a complementary manner.
Bill Mahoney is the Director of the Research Applications Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He serves as an Executive Committee Member of the DTC.