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Collaborative Research between the National Weather Service and North Carolina
NOAA and the NWS have a long history of entering into cooperative
activities with colleges and universities with the goal to bring applied research to NWS operations
and services. The benefits derived from collaborative research activities are numerous. NWS and
university resources are leveraged, which will accelerate application of new science to operational
forecasting. Collaborative research enables mutual sharing of information and data that may have
been previously unavailable. Numerous opportunities for diverse partnerships are created, and these
opportunities contribute to the scientific education of current and future workforce.
The primary reason our office was located on North
Carolina State University's Centennial
Campus was to foster collaboration between the academic community at the University and the
meteorological staff at the forecast office. Of the National Weather Service's 123 Forecast
Offices, 14 are now co-located on university campuses.
One of the country's strongest collaborative research relationships between a NWS office and a
university initiated in Raleigh in the late 1970's and expanded during the 1980's. The
collaboration was significantly enhanced in the 1990's when the NWS office was collocated with
the NC State University (NCSU) Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS). Years
of applied research activities conducted by NWS Raleigh and the NCSU MEAS has led to this successful
relationship. The first of nearly 10 COMET-funded projects between NWS Raleigh and NC State
University commenced in January 1991. NWS Raleigh, NC State University, and several other nearby NWS
offices have participated in 3 long term (3 year) CSTAR projects focusing on topics including:
improving topographically-forced weather systems in the Carolinas and Virginia; improving
cold-season precipitation forecasts in the southeastern U.S.; and improving the understanding and
prediction of warm season precipitation systems in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. A more detailed
summary of the history between NWS Raleigh and NC State University is available here.
An article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society entitled Assessing the Impact of Collaborative Research Projects on NWS Warning
Performance by Jeff Waldstreicher reports that collaborative research projects between
universities and National Weather Service Forecast Offices in the eastern United States are found to
have measurable benefits to tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flood, and winter storm warnings.
References: Waldstreicher, J.S., 2005: Assessing the Impact of
Collaborative Research Projects on NWS Warning Performance. Bull. Amer. Meteor.
Soc., 86, 193–203.