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Home » About » Mission and Vision

Mission and Vision

The Global Systems Laboratory (GSL) of the Earth System Research Laboratories (ESRL) conducts world-class applied research and directed development resulting in technology transfer of environmental data, models, products, and services that enhance environmental understanding with the outcome of supporting commerce, supporting NWS in protecting life and property, and promoting a scientifically literate public.


Vision Statement: “Research today for better forecasts tomorrow”


As one of NOAA's premier research laboratories, the Global Systems Laboratory (GSL) has a history of successfully transitioning atmospheric research into advanced products and services for weather operations. GSL is one of four laboratories within the Earth System Research Laboratories (ESRL) and is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. GSL has five divisions that focus on advanced technologies, decision support services, model development, innovative data assimilation and verification techniques, and high-performance computing and architectures.

NOAA's long-term goal of a "Weather-Ready Nation" drives GSL's preeminent weather research and development portfolio. Our tagline is "research today for better forecasts tomorrow." GSL delivers innovative research to provide the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other stakeholders with increasingly-accurate, rapidly-updating environmental models to save lives and property and support a vibrant economy. GSL's work to develop state-of-the-art decision support and data-delivery tools help inform the public, so they are more resilient to high-impact weather. Finally, GSL's cutting-edge visualization systems and high-performance computing technologies lead the environmental science community.

GSL's core competencies, expertise, and mission align with DOC, NOAA, and OAR objectives and support Congress's Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 and the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018. GSL prizes its strong relationships with forecasters, the aviation community, university research partners, other NOAA organizations, the private sector, and its Cooperative Institute partners (CIRES and CIRA) in accomplishing its mission.

GSL's talented workforce has a legacy of delivering ground-breaking research that has revolutionized weather operations. GSL aspires to develop and empower our future leaders by committing to diversity, inclusiveness, excellence, and integrity to transform NOAA's future in world-class science. This next generation of scientists will be critical in developing new ideas and technologies and performing mission-relevant research to serve local, national, and global communities.

Statutory Authority and/or Charge Under NOAA Strategic Plan

GSL is aligned under Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (Pub.L 115-25, H.R. 353), NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation goal, and the NOAA Ocean and Atmospheric Science Education Program (33 USC 893a). GSL's research specifically addresses the objectives to:


GSL's four research areas -- Organizational Excellence, Earth System Prediction, Advanced Technologies, and Decision Support -- are the foundation to achieving the GSL Grand Challenge: Deliver actionable global storm-scale prediction and environmental information through advanced technologies to serve society.

Organizational Excellence

GSL strives to advance its workforce scientifically, technically, and professionally. GSL is committed to increased diversity and inclusion as well as a strong foundation for succession planning and career growth. GSL hosts team-building and training, conducts annual retreats and employee satisfaction surveys, and provides leadership opportunities to early- and mid-career staff to contribute to GSL and develop professionally. GSL also values long-term research continuity across research areas. While GSL’s Grand Challenge is a scientific and technical goal, a healthy organization invested in GSL’s mission will enable the collaboration and innovation needed to achieve this goal. Additionally, GSL invests base funding toward activities that support the GSL mission and collaboration across research areas towards our Grand Challenge. Lastly, GSL is invested in researching new technologies and maintaining an advanced IT infrastructure to provide the technologies needed for innovative research, development, and implementation.

Future plans: Continue to increase staff diversity and inclusivity; make strategic federal hires to fill vacancies and early-to-mid-career scientific positions; integrate GSL’s science strategy across research themes.

Earth System Prediction

GSL is a world leader in the development of storm-scale to global-scale weather prediction models, aligning GSL research with NOAA’s objectives to build a holistic understanding of the Earth system and an integrated environmental modeling system while contributing to the Unified Forecast System. Recent successes are NOAA’s hourly-updating Rapid Refresh (RAP) and the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) high-impact weather prediction models. The RAP and HRRR predict atmospheric variables relevant to severe weather, aviation weather, the wind energy industry, and fire weather. Another recent success was the GSL-led GEFS-Aerosols model-- an atmospheric composition model that integrates weather and air quality-- that recently went into operations. In addition to model development and data assimilation expertise, through the Developmental Testbed Center (DTC), GSL supports community involvement by developing modeling infrastructure, providing support to users and developers of the UFS and Hurricane WRF models, assessing contributed innovations, and organizing events to bring together the research and operational communities.

Future plans: With expertise in physics, model coupling, data assimilation, modeling, and verification, GSL will advance Earth-system capabilities toward a continuous global-to-local storm-scale system.

Advanced technologies

GSL is a world leader in advancing new technologies and methods in computing, modeling, visualization, data access, and information delivery to support NOAA’s Earth system prediction and decision support capabilities. GSL research includes using innovative numerical methods and software design that improve the performance, portability, and scientific accuracy of models running on next-generation exascale computers. The advanced computing efforts in GSL are the foundation of virtually all High Performance Computing methods used in NOAA operations and research. GSL also researches and implements cloud computing capabilities to address the challenges of the end-to-end Unified Forecast System used by NOAA and the research community. Researchers are developing machine learning algorithms to increase the use of observations in data assimilation, improve model prediction capabilities, and gain a better understanding of complex data. GSL has been a leader in closing data gaps for NOAA Operations with MADIS, a database of weather observations from a variety of sources that is used worldwide. GSL researchers leverage the latest server and gaming technologies in SOS Explorer™ Mobile, a free app for smart phones to bring environmental information and education to your hands.

Future plans: Develop advanced technologies to enable the delivery of information and improved Earth-system prediction models.

Decision support

GSL’s history was forged in developing tools that support the weather decision-making process. Decision support tool development began in the early 1980s with the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), and is continuing now with incremental deployments of GSL’s Hazard Services system to NWS offices. Hazard Services streamlines NWS watch, warning, and advisory-related services into one interface and can be customized for each office, region, or type of weather. GSL is also advancing the Weather Archive and Visualization Environment (WAVE) project, a web-based multi-purpose system where NWS forecasters create impact-based graphics about weather hazards to deliver via their websites and social media. GSL also works to understand how weather information is used through impact-based forecast assessments and targeted real-time information delivery to benefit decision-making in response to high impact weather events.

Future plans: GSL will build tools and systems that will provide actionable information and enable understanding of impacts.