Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

CIRES-NOAA Teams Receive 2015 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research

CIRES-NOAA recognized for innovative weather model used by National Weather Service and advances in the field of geomagnetism

An innovative weather model used by National Weather Service offices across the country and advances in the field of geomagnetism, including an updated World Magnetic Model and a citizen scientist project, are two of the Colorado-based scientific achievements that will be recognized tonight with the 2015 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research. The awards are given by CO-LABS, a non-profit organization that supports the state’s federally funded research centers.

In the Sustainability category, CO-LABS recognized researchers from the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratories (ESRL) Global Systems Laboratory (GSL) for the development and transition to operations of the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) weather prediction model, which provides critical details of rapidly evolving weather events to forecasters and decision-makers, helping improve forecasts and warnings for severe weather across the country.

The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) weather model allows NOAA, for the first time, to use the latest radar and other observations to provide hourly updated storm-scale forecasts in rapidly changing conditions.

"We are honored by this recognition from CO-LABS and the Governor, and proud of our team for their very high-impact research on the HRRR,” said Stephen Weygandt, a NOAA research meteorologist. “They have put a high-resolution weather model in the hands of forecasters across the country, who are using it to help save lives and property by getting more accurate weather guidance to emergency managers, pilots, wind farm operators and others."

The winning weather model team includes researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. In July, this group and partners were awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in Scientific/Engineering Achievement, which recognizes distinguished performance characterized by extraordinary, notable or prestigious contributions that impact the department’s mission.

The World Magnetic Model (WMM) is a representation of Earth’s magnetic field that gives analog and digital magnetic compasses dependable accuracy.

In the category of Foundational Technology, CIRES and NOAA experts in the geomagnetism group of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) in Boulder won for a suite of recent achievements. Those include a) a newly updated representation of Earth’s magnetic field—the World Magnetic Model—used daily by millions of people (including Google and Apple users) for military, mobile phone and other navigation needs; b) CrowdMag, a citizen science application and experiment that turns smartphones into mobile scientific instruments that measure the magnetic field and send data anonymously back to NOAA to help verify and improve magnetic models; and c) pioneering work to determine if magnetometers could someday help detect tsunamis in real-time.

The CIRES Western Water Assessment received an Honorable Mention in the Sustainability category, for their work conducting collaborative climate research with input from decision makers, such as state water managers, with specific information needs.

Colorado has one of the highest per capita concentrations of federal science, research and engineering facilities in the nation. The Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research was launched in 2009 by CO-LABS, a consortium of federally funded scientific laboratories, universities, businesses, local governments, and community leaders organized to showcase Colorado’s research facilities.

The 2015 awards will be presented tonight at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in a ceremony that gathers scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, business leaders and government officials to celebrate the exceptional work of Colorado’s scientists and engineers. The event is hosted by CO-LABS, the Alliance for Sustainable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. 

CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.