Announcement of Opportunity

With the Developmental Testbed Center

The Developmental Testbed Center (DTC) is offering visitor appointments for a year beginning on a mutually agreed upon start date. The DTC Visitor Program supports visitors to work with the DTC to improve software and other tools, as well as to test new data assimilation, forecasting and verification techniques, models and model components for numerical weather prediction (NWP). The goal is to provide the operational weather prediction centers [e.g., National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and Air Force (AF)] with options for near-term advances in operational weather forecasting, and to provide researchers with NWP codes that represent the latest advances in technology, including cloud computing tools and containers.  This program also offers an opportunity for visitors to introduce new techniques into the DTC community codes that would be of particular interest to the research community.

The DTC offers two types of visitor projects: 1) projects undertaken by the Principal Investigator (PI), and 2) projects undertaken by a graduate student under the direction of the PI. Successful applicants for the first type of project may be offered up to two months of salary compensation.   Travel support may be offered for up to two month visits; visits do not need to be for the entire two months and may be split into separate shorter visits. The two months can be distributed over several weeks during a one-year period. Visitors are expected to visit the DTC in Boulder, Colorado and/or one of the operational centers. Access to DTC computational resources will enable significant portions of the visitor's project to be conducted from their home institution.

Successful applicants for the second type of project will be offered up to one year of living allowance or stipend and travel expenses for the graduate student to work with the DTC (located in Boulder, Colorado) and/or one of its partners [e.g., NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center (EMC)] and travel and per diem for up to two two-week visits to the location of the graduate student by the project PI.

Federal employees are not eligible for financial support through this program. Federal employees who are interested in collaborating with the DTC on a project should contact the DTC Director, Louisa Nance ( to discuss other avenues for collaborating with the DTC on advancing NWP technology.

1.0 The Developmental Testbed Center (DTC)

The DTC is a distributed facility with components residing at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL). The objectives of the DTC are to: (i) advance science research by providing the research community an environment that is functionally similar to that used in operations to test and evaluate the components of the NWP systems supported by the DTC, without interfering with actual day-to-day operations, and providing that community with state-of-the-art NWP systems; (ii) reduce the average time required to implement promising codes emerging from the research community by performing the early steps of extensive testing to demonstrate the potential of new science and technologies for possible use in operations; (iii) sustain scientific interoperability of the community modeling system; and (vi) develop, maintain and support a community objective verification system for use by the broad NWP community. The fundamental purpose of the DTC is to provide a coordinating mechanism that acts as a bridge between research and operations thereby facilitating the activities of both communities in pursuit of their own and common objectives.

2.0 DTC Community Codes

To serve as a bridge between operations and research, the DTC provides a framework for the two communities to collaborate in order to accelerate the transition of new technology into operational weather forecasting. This framework is based on software systems that are a shared resource with distributed development. Ongoing development of these systems is maintained under version control with mutually agreed upon software management plans. The DTC currently works with the following software systems:

  • Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) Data Assimilation (DA) System

  • Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) DA System

  • Hurricane WRF (HWRF; coupled atmosphere and ocean system)

  • GFDL vortex tracker

  • Common Community Physics Package (CCPP)

  • CCPP Single Column Model (SCM)

  • Unified Post Processor (UPP)

  • Model Evaluation Tools (METplus) – Verification package

NOAA is in the process of transitioning its modeling suite to the Unified Forecast System (UFS), which is envisioned to be a community-based, coupled, comprehensive Earth modeling system.  The CCPP and SCM will play important roles in establishing a Hierarchical Testing Framework (HTF) for physics development within the UFS. In addition, DTC is engaged in helping NOAA set up the repository and support framework for upcoming UFS code releases.  The initial release, targeted for January 2020, will include the UFS-Atmosphere component for global applications. A Stand-Alone Regional (SAR) capability is targeted for release in mid-2020.

The DTC contributes to the software management and user support for these community systems in collaboration with the main developers. The main developers of these packages are affiliated with EMC, ESRL, NCAR’s Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology (MMM) Laboratory, Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), University of Rhode Island (URI) and the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML).

In addition to working with these individual software systems, the DTC is involved in efforts to develop and maintain scripting and workflows for end-to-end forecast systems. These workflows provide an important framework for conducting carefully controlled T&E activities. Through its visitor program, the DTC supports the addition of new capabilities to these community codes, as well as tests of the various components of these community codes.

3.0 How to Respond to this Announcement

Potential topics of interest to the DTC are outlined in Section 4.0. These topics are general and are intended as suggestions for the type of projects we will consider. Proposals for participation in the Visitor Program should provide details on the specific work the visitor would conduct with the DTC and/or one of its partners (e.g., EMC). Previous DTC visitors are welcome to submit proposals for new projects or projects that build on past work. All proposals will be subjected to the same review process (see description below). The submitted material should include the following:

  • Project description including a title, computational resource requirements (processing, disk space and storage), location of planned visit(s) and duration(s), and expected outcomes (up to 5 pages)

  • Curriculum Vitae (1-2 pages)

As noted above, it is expected that the visitor will spend up to two months residency (up to twelve months for graduate student project) at the DTC, an operational center or a combination of time at the DTC and an operational center. The total duration of the project can continue for one year. It is expected that the visitor will be able to continue their work from his or her own institution using DTC computational resources.

Proposals in response to this announcement should be submitted through an online application form at:

4.0 Possible Visitor Projects with the DTC

This general announcement is for an opportunity to work with the DTC to test existing NWP-based systems in order to assess/identify deficiencies, evaluate new NWP technology that shows promise of improving NWP within the next five years, or provide the DTC with promising new technology for research applications in accordance with chartered focus areas:

Software and Tools

Projects directed at advancing DTC-supported software codes and tools, workflow systems, such as:

  • Enhancements to the CCPP framework

  • Physics enhancements for improving the forecast skill of UFS applications

  • New cases or capabilities for the SCM

  • Cloud computing on a variety of platforms/services (e.g., AWS, Azure)

  • Containerization software using a variety of platforms (e.g., Docker, Singularity)

  • Adding diagnostics to UPP

  • Equivalence testing improvements (e.g., handling spatial, temporal and contemporaneous dependencies within this hypothesis testing framework; adding more useful diagnostic types of alternatives to formal testing)

  • Enhancing verification or diagnostic methodologies in METplus

  • Data assimilation techniques for improving the forecast skill of UFS applications

  • Workflow or infrastructure related improvements and new capabilities for end-to-end forecast systems

Testing and Evaluation

Projects directed at testing and evaluating new NWP technologies, such as:

  • Testing and diagnostics related to uncovering problems related to physics, initialization, model uncertainty, spread, etc.., and potential solutions, in order to improve one or more UFS applications

  • Testing and evaluation of techniques that leverage artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning, neural networks, etc., aimed at improving numerical weather model components (e.g. using AI to substitute parts of model physics) or development and improvement of downstream post-processing products (e.g. MOS)

Proposals addressing known issues of the UFS are especially encouraged.  For example:

  • Difficulty forming and maintaining PBL inversions

  • Low-level cold bias that grows with forecast length

  • CONUS 2-meter Temperature

    • Diurnal cycle, heat wave and cold outbreak.

    • Anomaly correlation weeks 1-4

    • Annual and seasonal mean bias and rmse

  • CONUS Precipitation

    • Diurnal cycle, winter snow storm and summer heavy precipitation

    • Anomaly correlation weeks 1-4

    • Annual and seasonal mean bias

    • Warm-season dry bias

  • Hurricane forecast beyond 5 days

    • Tracks

    • Intensity

    • Speed of northward moving hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin

  • Ensemble forecast spread 

    • 2-meter temperature

    • Hurricane track

  • UFS Weather Model is too progressive with synoptic patterns

5.0 Proposal Evaluation Process

Proposals submitted in response to this announcement will be subject to both external and internal review.  The external review will be conducted by the DTC Science Advisory Board (SAB), which consists of scientists from government labs, operational centers, and academic institutions.  The DTC Management Board will make the final recommendations to the DTC Director based on the review by the DTC SAB.