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 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. 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 direction of the PI. Successful applicants for the first type of project will be offered up to two months of salary compensation, and travel and per diem. 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 temporary living per diem 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:

  • Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) – NWP model + pre- and post-processors
  • Unified Post Processor (UPP)
  • Hurricane WRF (HWRF; coupled atmosphere and ocean system)
  • Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) Data Assimilation (DA) System
  • Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) DA System
  • Model Evaluation Tools (MET) – Verification package

The DTC does not generally contribute to the development of new scientific techniques for these software packages. The two exceptions are MET development and some limited physics package development for WRF to address short-comings brought to light by DTC testing and evaluation (T&E). The DTC contributes to the software management of all of these systems and user support for the publicly-released systems (WRF, HWRF, UPP, GFDL vortex tracker, GSI, EnKF and MET). 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 July 2015, the DTC started a new effort referred to as the Global Model Test Bed (GMTB). The current focus of the GMTB is establishing a Common Community Physics Package (CCPP), which will serve as a framework for efficiently transitioning the development of next generation physics parameterizations into operations and a Physics Testbed, which will serve as a framework for testing new physics developments. In addition to working with these individual software systems, the DTC is involved in efforts to develop and maintain scripting and workflows for a number of forecast systems: HWRF, Rapid Refresh (RAP), High Resolution Ensemble Forecast (HREF) system and the Global Forecast System (GFS). 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 resident (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. Potential topics include: testing new physics parameterization components, investigating the interaction between physics schemes, optimizing physics suites, investigating alternative verification approaches, investigating data assimilation techniques (including variational, ensemble-based, and hybrid approaches) and observation impacts, and investigating optimal configurations of regional ensemble systems.

Specific suggested topics (not in order of priority) that will receive special consideration include:

  1. Regional Ensembles

    Projects directed at advancing the design and use of ensembles for forecasting and data assimilation are of interest. The DTC's greatest interest is with regard to regional high-resolution ensembles (e.g. HRRR based ensembles). Topics of particular interest are:

    1. Methods to estimate and represent both initial condition and model-related uncertainties.
    2. Use of stochastic approaches in ensemble design.
    3. Statistical post-processing techniques for improvement of reliability of probabilistic forecast products.
    4. New diagnostic tools for evaluation of ensemble performance.
    5. Projects utilizing cases available through the Mesoscale Model Evaluation Testbed (MMET, info: MMET will include benchmark data and verification for a two-week period (May 7 to May 21, 2016) for both deterministic and ensemble operational forecasts.
    6. Projects focusing on the addition or enhancement of physics packages used in operational models (RAP, HRRR) that lead to improvement in the operational physics suites.
    7. Projects leading to improved and/or expanded physics options available in RAP/HRRR. Of particular interest are scale-aware physics suites whose performance is not dependent on model resolution.
  2. Hurricanes

    Proposals to work directly with the DTC-supported HWRF modeling system are strongly encouraged. Topics of particular interest are listed in a-f below.

    In general (a-f), projects can focus on either the deterministic single storm or multistorm (basin-scale) configuration, as well as the ensemble configuration for particular applications. When relevant, projects utilizing hurricane cases available through the Mesoscale Model Evaluation Testbed (MMET ) are encouraged.

    1. Projects leading to improved and/or expanded physics options available in the WRF software infrastructure to address the hurricane prediction problem. Improvements to physics suitable for high resolution (grid spacing # 2 km), including air-sea transfer physics in high wind conditions, representation of convection, planetary boundary layer, cloud physics, and radiation, as well as interactions among physical parameterizations are of particular interest.
    2. A robust and feasible initialization methodology to obtain dynamic and thermodynamic balance for tropical cyclones (TCs) remains a great challenge for TC numerical prediction systems. New methods or improvements in assimilation of data from satellites (including all-sky radiance assimilation), airborne tail Doppler radars, Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometers (SFMR), flight-level winds and dropsonde observations. Advances in the capabilities to assimilate data in the hurricane core region and application of GSI data assimilation (DA) techniques including hybrid and four-dimensional ensemble variational methods and high frequency DA cycling for tropical cyclones are of particular interest.
    3. Development and/or evaluation pertaining to ocean or wave coupling within the HWRF system, utilizing the Message Passing Interface Princeton Ocean Model for Tropical Cyclones (MPIPOM-TC), Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), or WAVEWATCH III is of interest.
    4. Projects directed at developing and/or applying new diagnostic tools that will provide much needed information about the strengths and weaknesses of the current operational TC prediction systems. Diagnostics work comparing HWRF forecasts against observations, in a framework that provides feedback for future model development, are of particular interest.
    5. Projects that make use of HWRF forecasts for the development and validation of pre- and post-storm landfall applications, including QPF, storm surge, rainfall, flooding and inundation.
    6. Rapid intensity change is a significant challenge for TC numerical prediction systems. Projects addressing rapid intensification and/or weakening are of particular interest.
    7. Projects aimed at broadening the research capabilities within the community-supported HWRF code. Topics extending the idealized HWRF capabilities, such as advances to include ocean coupling and shear are of interest.
  3. Data Assimilation

    Proposals to work directly with the DTC-supported Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) and/or the NOAA Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) DA systems are strongly encouraged. Projects directed at the following topics are of particular interest:

    1. Development or testing and evaluation of advanced DA techniques, such as hybrid variational-ensemble (EnVar) DA and four-dimensional (4D) EnVar DA, and related components (e.g., background errors, ensemble representation) for global or regional applications, as well as data impact studies utilizing one of these techniques.
    2. Development or testing and evaluation of convective scale DA or initialization schemes as part of a DA system (e.g., GSI, EnKF), with a focus on improving forecasts on convective scales.
    3. Projects directed at adding new data types or measurements from new instruments and platforms, and/or studies for improving existing capabilities in use of observations, such as description of observation errors (e.g., correlated observation errors), quality control, bias correction, etc.
    4. Development of all-sky radiance DA techniques
    5. Projects directed at improving radiative transfer model for (all-sky) radiance DA
    6. Development and/or application of new diagnostic tools to evaluate DA techniques and data impacts
    7. Projects directed at optimizing code and improving coding efficiency, increasing portability and scalability of code
  4. Global modeling

    Proposals directed at the transition of innovations in atmospheric physical parameterizations to NOAA's Next-Generation Global Prediction System (NGGPS) are strongly encouraged. While the DTC's focus is on NWP, a goal for NGGPS is to ultimately have a unified physics suite for all scales. Within this theme, the following areas are of particular interest:

    1. Diagnostic studies aimed at providing in-depth information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the current operational global prediction systems. Of particular relevance are investigations of physical parameterizations, and their interactions, in the global model physics suite.
    2. Projects focusing on the evaluation and enhancement of physical parameterizations supported as part of the CCPP.
    3. Advanced physics projects, aimed at developing and assessing physical parameterizations that are not currently part of the CCPP, but that have potential to improve global model predictions. Of particular interest are scale-aware physics suites whose performance is not dependent on model resolution, physical parameterizations that can be used for a range of temporal time scales (from days to months), and incorporation of stochastic effects into physics suites.
    4. To facilitate development and testing of physical parameterizations, the DTC has established a hierarchical testbed with tools spanning from a single column model (SCM) to a global workflow for running, postprocessing, and verifying a large number of cases. Projects utilizing the hierarchical testbed offered by the DTC will be favored.
    5. Enhancements to the DTC's SCM, including the addition of new test cases that can shed light on the physical parameterizations performance.
  5. Verification
    1. Projects directed at adding new capabilities to MET are of interest.  Capabilities of particular interest are:
      1. New spatial verification techniques, including those that apply to ensembles.  
      2. Promising techniques for time series evaluation.
      3. Techniques for verifying land surface models.
      4. Techniques to help the data-assimilation community assess the impact of their data assimilation methods.
      5. Enhanced use of alternative datasets, such as GOES and other satellite measurements.
      6. New tropical cyclone verification methods or tools, especially those that provide diagnostic verification information.
    2. Projects investigating verification approaches that are more appropriate for providing model diagnostics than many traditional approaches - that is, approaches that provide information about particular attributes of model error that can lead to a diagnosis of needed improvements in the model.
    3. Projects directed at investigating verification approaches that allow incorporation of observational uncertainty into model evaluations, including projects demonstrating how this information can be separated from other sources of uncertainty (e.g., sampling variations) associated with estimates of verification measures.
    4. Projects exploring the impacts and ramifications of different up/down-scaling methods that are being/could be used by MET to systematically inter-compare different model forecasts and different observational analyses that may have different grid characteristics.

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.