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Eric James


Senior Associate Scientist

I joined GSL (then GSD) within the Assimilation and Verification Innovation Division (AVID; formerly the Assimilation and Modeling Branch AMB) in 2010.  Since that time, my research interests have revolved around the use of observations in numerical weather prediction, applications of high-resolution model guidance in complex terrain, and data mining.  I have played a key role in maintaining real-time experimental model forecasts from the hourly Rapid Refresh (RAP) and High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR), and have carried out numerous retrospective experiments for the purpose of various aspects of data assimilation or model physics improvements.  I have been involved with many projects and outreach efforts associated with new capabilities developed in the HRRR system, including especially the HRRR-smoke system for prediction of wildfire smoke plumes.  Outside of work, I am currently pursuing a PhD in Atmospheric Science; in my very limited free time, I enjoy hiking, backpacking, and trail running.

Research Interests

  • Observing System Experiments (OSEs) for quantification of observation impacts upon model forecast skill
  • Use of commercial aircraft weather observations within rapidly-updating numerical weather prediction systems
  • Short-range prediction of excessive rainfall based on convection-allowing model guidance
  • Anticipation of extreme fire weather based on convection-allowing model guidance
  • Incorporating simple representations of aerosol tracers (i.e., smoke and dust) in rapidly-updating numerical weather prediction systems


  • BS in Meteorology, University of Utah, 2006
  • BS in Geography, University of Utah, 2006
  • MS in Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, 2009


  • Lab Aide at the University of Utah MesoWest program, 2005-06, under Dr. John Horel
  • Graduate Research Assistant at Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science, 2006-09, under Dr. Richard Johnson
  • Research Associate at Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science, 2009-10, under Dr. Richard Johnson
  • Associate Scientist at Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, within the Global Systems Laboratory Assimilation and Verification Innovation Division, 2010-present, under Dr. Curtis Alexander

Professional Activities

  • Hazardous Weather Testbed Experimental Forest Program, NOAA National Severe Storms Lab / Storm Prediction Center, Norman, OK, 2011-2013, 2015-2018, 2020
  • Front Range Computer Research Consortium Symposium, Fort Collins, CO, 2012
  • Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation Tutorial, Boulder, CO, 2012
  • WRF Workshop, Boulder, CO, 2013
  • Winter Experiment, NOAA Aviation Weather Center, Kansas City, MO, 2016
  • Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management Workshop, San Jose, CA, 2016
  • Utility Variable Integration Group Forecasting Workshop, Denver, CO, 2016
  • Workshop on Opportunities to Apply Remote Sensing in Boreal / Arctic Wildfire Management and Science, Fairbanks, AK, 2017
  • Invited Seminar Speaker at USFS Fire Science Laboratory, Missoula, MT, 2017
  • Membership Chair, CIRES Members Council, 2017-2020
  • Presenter at Stakeholder Workshop for Scoping and Development of New Forecast Products Using AMDAR Data, Naivasha, Kenya, 2018
  • Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall Experiment, NOAA Weather Prediction Center, College Park, MD, 2018-2020
  • Presenter at Incident Meteorologist Training, National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, ID, 2018-2019
  • Led training with the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation on the HRRR-Caribbean modeling system, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 2020
  • Led NOAA National Weather Service training on upcoming RAPv5 / HRRRv4, 2020

Honors and Awards

  • International Baccalaureate Diploma, May 2002
  • Research Employee of the Year Team Award, CU/CIRES, 2012
  • Gold Medal Award, CU/CIRES, 2016
  • Technology Transfer Award, NOAA/GSD, 2017
  • Achievement Award, UVIG, 2017


James, E. P., S. G. Benjamin, and B. D. Jamison, 2020: Commercial aircraft-based observations for NWP: Global coverage, data impacts, and COVID-19. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., in press.

Fujisaki-Manome, A., G. E. Mann, E. J. Anderson, P. Y. Chu, L. E. Fitzpatrick, S. G. Benjamin, E. P. James, T. G. Smirnova, C. R. Alexander, and D. M. Wright, 2020: Improvements to lake-effect snow forecasts using a one-way air-lake model coupling approach. J. Hydrometeor., in press.

Albers, S., S. M. Saleeby, S. Kreidenweis, Q. Bian, P. Xian, Z. Toth, R. Ahmadov, E. James, and S. D. Miller, 2020: A fast visible-wavelength 3D radiative transfer model for numerical weather prediction visualization and forward modeling. Atmos. Meas. Tech., 13, 3235-3261.

Back, A., R. Ahmadov, E. P. James, G. Grell, G. Pereira, S. R. Freitas, I. A. Csiszar, M. Tsidulko, S. Kondragunta, 2020: Use of VIIRS aerosol optical depth information at NOAA GSL to improve smoke, visibility, and weather forecasts in the Experimental High Resolution Rapid Refresh. JCSDA Quarterly, 67, 1-7.

Beck, J., J. Brown, J. Dudhia, D. Gill, T. Hertneky, J. Klemp, W. Wang, C. Williams, M. Hu, E. James, J. Kenyon, T. Smirnova, J.-H. Kim, 2020: An evaluation of a hybrid, terrain-following vertical coordinate in the WRF-based RAP and HRRR models. Wea. Forecasting, 35, 1081-1096.

Benjamin, S. G., E. P. James, J. M. Brown, E. J. Szoke, J. S. Kenyon, and R. Ahmadov, 2020: Diagnostic fields developed for hourly updated NOAA models. NOAA Tech. Memo. OAR GSL-66.

Hung, W.-T., C.-S. Lu, B. Shrestha, H.-C. Lin, C.-A. Lin, D. Grogan, J. Hong, R. Ahmadov, E. James, and E. Joseph, 2020: The impacts of transported wildfire smoke aerosols on surface air quality in New York State: A case study in summer 2018. Atmos. Environment, 227, 117415.

Banta, R. M., Y. L. Pichugina, W. A. Brewer, E. P. James, J. B. Olson, S. G. Benjamin, J. R. Carley, L. Bianco, I. V. Djalalova, J. M. Wilczak, R. M. Hardesty, J. Cline, and M. C. Marquis, 2018: Evaluating and improving NWP forecast models for the future: How the needs of offshore wind energy can point the way. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 99, 1155-1176.

Ahmadov, R., G. Grell, E. James, I. Csiszar, M. Tsidulko, B. Pierce, S. McKeen, S. Benjamin, C. Alexander, G. Pereira, S. Freitas, and M. Goldberg, 2017: Using VIIRS fire radiative power data to simulate biomass burning emissions, plume rise and smoke transport in a real-time air quality modeling system. Proceedings of the 2017 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2806-2808.

James, E. P., S. G. Benjamin, and M. Marquis, 2017: Offshore wind speed estimates from a high-resolution rapidly updating numerical weather prediction model forecast dataset. Wind Energy, 21, 264-284.

James, E. P., S. G. Benjamin, and M. Marquis, 2017: A unified high-resolution wind and solar dataset from a rapidly updating numerical weather prediction model. Renewable Energy, 102, 390-405.

Pichugina, Y. L., R. M. Banta, J. B. Olson, J. R. Carley, M. C. Marquis, W. A. Brewer, J. M. Wilczak, I. Djalalova, L. Bianco, E. P. James, S. G. Benjamin, and J. Cline, 2017: Assessment of NWP forecast models in simulating offshore winds through the lower boundary layer by measurements from a ship-based scanning Doppler lidar. Mon. Wea. Rev., 145, 4277-4301.

James, E. P., and S. G. Benjamin, 2017: Observation system experiments with the hourly updating Rapid Refresh model using GSI hybrid ensemble-variational data assimilation. Mon. Wea. Rev., 145, 2897-2918.

Benjamin, S. G., S. S. Weygandt, J. M. Brown, M. Hu, C. R. Alexander, T. G. Smirnova, J. B. Olson, E. P. James, D. C. Dowell, G. A. Grell, H. Lin, S. E. Peckham, T. L. Smith, W. R. Moninger, J. S. Kenyon, and G. S. Manikin, 2016: A North American hourly assimilation and model forecast cycle: The Rapid Refresh. Mon. Wea. Rev., 144, 1669-1694.

James, E. P., and R. H. Johnson, 2010: A climatology of midlatitude mesoscale convective vortices in the Rapid Update Cycle. Mon. Wea. Rev., 138, 1940-1956.

James, E. P., and R. H. Johnson, 2010: Patterns of precipitation and mesolow evolution in midlatitude mesoscale convective vortices. Mon. Wea. Rev., 138, 909-931.