Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research Program (CSTAR)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has had a long history of entering into cooperative activities with colleges and universities. As the Modernization and Associated Restructuring (MAR) of the National Weather Service (NWS) progresses, the number and types of interactions have been growing steadily. As a result, the Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) program has been established by the Office of Meteorology to bring the current variety of NWS-supported collaborative activities with the academic community into a structured program and to create a cost-effective transition from basic and applied research to operations and services. This service-science linkage provides a foundation for the ongoing modernization of the NWS.
The benefits derived from collaborative research activities initiated in CSTAR 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.
All CSTAR efforts are geared toward enhancing scientific interactions leading to a transfer of improved scientific understanding and technological advancements into the total forecast system. These efforts support the United States Weather Research Program's (USWRP's) goal of advancing weather observing capabilities and fundamental understanding of weather and using this understanding to improve numerical weather prediction and enhance weather services provided to the Nation. In close association with the USWRP, the NWS has established a set of science priorities in support of the Advance Short-Term Forecast and Warning Services element of the NOAA Strategic Plan around which research in the CSTAR program is currently focused. These NWS Science Priorities are as follows:
- Meteorological and hydrological science issues associated with QPE and QPF information, especially relating to flash and river flood applications.
- The effect of topography on local weather regimes including the unique weather patterns associated with the Great Lakes and coastal areas.
- The evolution and movement of tropical cyclones.
- Conditions conducive for the rapid development of wildfires and the dispersion of smoke and other air quality hazards.
- Locally hazardous weather, especially severe convection, winter weather, and phenomena that affect aviation.
Cooperative, operationally-oriented, collaborative research ventures between NWS and the university community are strongly emphasized. These efforts consist of activities funded directly between NWS and university facilities, as well as activities funded through the Cooperative Program for Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) in Boulder, Colorado (a component of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research [UCAR]). The following sections describe briefly the activities within the CSTAR program.
NWS Cooperative Institute Activities : Cooperative Institutes (CIs) are generally long-term agreements with financial commitments on the part of NOAA and a university to share administrative and faculty costs. The CI develops an overall theme that is centered around a limited number of agreed-upon research topics as set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding. In some cases, CIs are collocated with Weather Service Forecast Offices. The NWS has five CIs that it currently administers: the CI for Applied Meteorological Studies at Texas A&M University, the CI for Tropical Meteorology at Florida State University, and the CI for Climate Studies at the University of Maryland, the CI for Regional Prediction at the University of Utah and the CI at the Pennsylvania State University. The CIs conduct applied research, coordinated by NWS Regions and Centers, and serve as a mechanism for transferring cutting-edge research into operations.
COMET Outreach Program : The COMET Outreach Program fosters partnerships between the academic research community and operational weather forecasters by funding collaborative research projects that benefit both groups. Its underlying objectives are to:
- Facilitate the transfer of research results to operational forecasting through the development and testing of forecast techniques.
- Provide a mechanism for the participation of operational forecasters, research scientists, and academic scholars in advancing the weather services of the nation.
- Stimulate further basic and applied research in the science of forecasting and nowcasting techniques.
The COMET Outreach Program is a particularly important component of CSTAR. Its objective is to increase opportunities for mesoscale and synoptic-scale education and research and improve local forecasts by fostering partnerships between operational weather forecasters and university faculty and students. COMET sponsors Cooperative projects (~$25K per year) between a university department and a weather office and Partners projects (~$5K per year) between individual forecasters and researchers focused on the study of a particular forecast problem. COMET also awards Forecasting Research Fellowships and Postdoctoral students that initiate further collaborative research opportunities with the university community and the NWS. Funds for COMET Outreach activities are obtained through a competitive, peer-reviewed process.
Other CSTAR Programs : The NWS has played an important role in establishing the Atmospheric Sciences Programs at Jackson State University and the Earth Science Systems Program at Clark Atlanta University, two historically black colleges. The NWS has entered into several Interagency Personnel Agreements with university scientists to address specific areas of research need. The NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP, formerly the National Meteorological Center) and UCAR have a grant in force that permits university and UCAR scientists to visit NCEP for up to a year for the purpose of working on topics related to numerical weather prediction (NWP). University scientists may also receive grants from the National Science Foundation to support transition of mature NWP-related developments to NCEP.