Dr. Michael Kraus is retiring after more than 50 years of federal service and leadership at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory and NOAA to support tactical and strategic weather decisions.
Dr. Kraus began his career in 1967 as a civilian at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL). He developed techniques using Doppler radar to forecast severe weather, becoming the first person outside of Oklahoma to see mesocyclone and tornado vortex signatures. He was the project officer for a program conducted at the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Marshall Islands to study ice particle erosion of ICBM re-entry vehicles. Numerous reports were published on the results of these tests.
As Program Manager of the first AFGL Advanced Development program, Dr. Kraus developed battlefield weather data gathering and data application techniques, including the first operational environmental models for use in support of electro-optical precision-guided munitions and target acquisition systems (smart weapons). Called tactical decision aids at the time, these models were first used operationally in Libya in 1986, and are used to this day. The Advanced Development program also transitioned techniques for space weather support. Dr. Kraus and his team successfully transitioned a research-grade advanced proton event prediction capability for operational use at the Air Weather Service’s Air Force Global Weather Central in support of command, control, communication, and surveillance systems. In March 1990 Dr. Kraus received an Air Force Technology Management Award for outstanding performance in program management.
Dr. Kraus was hired by NOAA in 1990 as the Chief of the Forecast Systems Laboratory’s (FSL) Aviation Division, and as the NOAA Manager for the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program. He led a team that is responsible for the assessment of algorithms for the detection and prediction of aircraft icing, turbulence, ceiling and visibility, and convection over the continental US (CONUS). These assessments determined which were transferred to NWS Operations in support of the FAA. At the same time, Dr. Kraus worked with a contracting officer to help select and manage the contract for the development and support of the first Jet supercomputer. This was FSL’s first experience with the use of massively parallel processing for running regional numerical weather prediction models, and these techniques are still in use today.
In May 2007, Dr. Kraus was awarded a US DOC Bronze Medal as part of the team that designed and implemented the consolidation of six NOAA research organizations in Boulder, Colorado into the new NOAA ESRL. After the consolidation, he became Aviation, Computing, and Evaluation Branch Chief until 2013, when he became Chief of the newly formed Evaluation and Decision Support Branch. His talented team continues to assess the quality of new algorithms developed to detect and forecast weather variables impacting aviation, some of them for use offshore of the CONUS, and even globally. This team also develops decision support tools to be transferred to the NWS for use by air traffic management decision-makers. Dr. Kraus also oversees a team developing products for AWIPS-2, providing operational support for forecasters at NWS WFOs and, soon, NWS National Centers.