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Home » News » GSL receives 2021 NWA award for HRRR

GSL receives 2021 National Weather Association aviation award for HRRR

August 27, 2021

2021 NWA Aviation Meteorology Award

Each day, NOAA’s Weather Forecast Offices provide almost 600 airports with close to 2,500 aviation weather forecasts and about 1,300 inflight forecasts. GSL’s Assimilation and Verification Innovation Division is honored by the National Weather Association (NWA) for developing and delivering the first convection-allowing hourly-updated weather model that provides guidance for in-flight icing, convective weather, cloud ceilings, visibility, and other hazards that impact aviation safety and efficiency. The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) is heavily used in air traffic management decision support tools by the FAA, NWS, and the aviation industry.

The FAA requires frequently updating guidance for hazardous weather decision-making in the 8-hour range. The HRRR weather model, developed by GSL, met that need. HRRR is the result of an experiment partially funded by the FAA to improve forecasts for tactical and strategic decisions required by the aviation community. Now, HRRR forecasts for wind, temperature, moisture, ceilings, visibility, convective weather, and vertical motion fields are the backbone for U.S. aviation hazard forecasts.

The first hourly-updating model was the “Rapid Update Cycle” (RUC) that went into National Weather Service (NWS) operations in 2005. The Rapid Refresh (RAP) replaced the RUC in 2012. Since then, GSL researchers have improved short-range prediction of severe weather and other localized phenomena that impact aviation, culminating in the 3 km HRRR. Based on RAP, HRRR is the result of decades of progressive research on model system performance including physics and data assimilation enhancements that improved the depiction of aviation weather hazards. This work was in partnership with the NOAA Environmental Modeling Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and others as part of the Aviation Weather Research Program Model Development and Enhancement Team. GSL’s team recently led the technical transition of the experimental Rapid Refresh (RAP) version 5 and High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) version 4 numerical weather prediction models into NWS operations, completed on 2 December 2020.

GSL research has demonstrated the significant improvements HRRR has made that benefit the aviation community, including: