Navy opens its Global Ocean Forecast System to the public

The Naval Research Lab agrees to let NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction tap into the system for public forecasts.

NRL Global Ocean Forecasting System

The Navy’s detailed global environmental ocean forecasting will soon be available to the public via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Naval Research Laboratory has agreed with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction to let NCEP use the Global Ocean Forecast System, which combines satellite and in situ monitoring with meteorology, oceanography and geospatial services in making forecasts.

"Development of an advanced global ocean prediction system has been a long-term Navy interest," Dr. Gregg Jacobs, head of NRL’s Ocean Dynamics and Prediction Branch, said in an announcement. "This use of Navy-developed systems for global ocean forecasting represents dual-use technology that will benefit civilian interests and is an excellent example of the cutting edge research that is enabled through Navy-sponsored investments."

The system was developed by a collaboration of the Office of Naval Research, NRL research and development, and the Oceanographer of the Navy. It has three main components, Jacobs said:

  • Satellite observations that precisely measure sea surface height and temperature and ice concentration, combined with in situ observations from public sources and Navy ships.
  • Numerical models of ocean physics and numerical methods of representing those physics.
  • Technology that can correct the numerical models through data assimilation.

The Navy uses the system for tasks ranging from search and rescue and tracking mines to placing sonar arrays and estimating acoustic propagation. 

NCEP already provides a variety of forecasting services, including those for storms, aviation conditions and ocean conditions, using data from satellites and such sources as NOAA buoys around the U.S. coast. Using the Navy’s system will give it a more dynamic model for making ocean forecasts.

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