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During the summer and fall of 2005 NASA's Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (MAP) program funded the "MAP '05" project, a major effort designed to implement three versions of Goddard’s flagship global atmospheric model. The goal was to enable “real time” prediction of Atlantic tropical cyclones and other meteorological events. By executing the research products in an operational environment in which side-by-side comparisons with other types of models could be analyzed, the strengths and weaknesses of the Goddard models could be better understood, particularly under extraordinary atmospheric conditions. For the first time, Goddard’s numerical models were introduced as an offline member of the Florida State University (FSU) “Superensemble,” a novel approach to forecasting tropical cyclones that combines the output from multiple models and quantifies the biases of each such that an optimal forecast of storm track and intensity can be determined. Results from the Superensemble were made available to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. Although prediction of tropical cyclones was a significant outcome of this effort, MAP ’05 is designed to support multiple scientific investigations.

The modeling suite, known as the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) has been in development at Goddard since the early 1990s under the auspices of the former Data Assimilation Office (DAO) and the current Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). The project implemented the fourth and fifth generations of GEOS (GEOS4 and GEOS5, respectively), which represent different implementations of the finite-volume general circulation model (fvGCM). While GEOS4 represented a mature product, GEOS5 was under development for the duration of the project. GEOS4 was initialized with input provided by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Two instances of GEOS5 were tested during the project: a version that was initialized in a similar manner as GEOS4, and a version that was executed in data assimilation mode (the GEOS5 model coupled with NCEP’s Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation analysis package). GEOS5 was first made available during the early autumn of 2005 and was also tested with the FSU superensemble. For more information about the products of the GMAO, please visit their web site.

Dr. Robert Atlas served as the "Project Hurricane" Project Scientist. Dr. Atlas and his team led the science investigation of hurricane forecasts and worked with scientists at Goddard, FSU, the National Hurricane Center, and NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division in the interpretation of forecast results and model performance. At the time of MAP '05 Dr. Atlas served as Goddard’s Chief Meteorologist; he has since been named head of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic Marine Laboratory in Miami, Florida. Preliminary results from the 2004 hurricane season were promising, in which Dr. Atlas executed the GEOS4 version of the fvGCM parallel to other operational and research models. Dr. Atlas’s work in 2004 led to the collaborations with FSU and the various government research and operational institutions.

Dr. Michele Rienecker was the GEOS5 model integration and "Extreme Weather Events" Project Scientist. Her team was responsible for the development and implementation of the new GEOS5 model and data assimilation products. They performed real-time scientific evaluation of the GEOS5 operating at high resolution, and observed the interplay of NCEP’s data analysis product with the atmospheric GCM, with particular emphasis on examining forecast skill of other weather extremes. Dr. Rienecker serves as the Head of the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.

NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) and Tropical Prediction Center (TPC), both managed by NCEP, played a significant role in evaluating the results of the MAP ’05 research experiments. Their goal was to determine if elements of the GEOS physics and/or dynamics packages should be considered for infusion into future NOAA operational products (NASA’s research models and computing platforms were not designed nor were intended to be used for permanent operations)

The Goddard models differ in a variety of ways when compared to those from other research centers and operational agencies. Perhaps the most significant differences are in the model’s finite volume dynamical core (ref: Lin, S.-J., 2004: A vertically Langrangian Finite-Volume Dynamical Core for Global Models. Mon. Wea.Rev., 132, 2293-2307.) and its ability to produce timely forecasts for the entire globe at comparatively high horizontal resolutions (1/4 x 1/4 degree).

For more information about the MAP ’05 project, please contact the SIVO at 301-286-9804, or send email directly to the MAP ’05 Project Manager, Michael Seablom, at

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Last Updated: 11/24/2008