NRL researchers advance fleet weather predictions through innovation, collaboration

December 12, 2017

MONTEREY, Calif. - The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Marine Meteorology Division in Monterey, California, houses a team of scientists and engineers who work in conjunction with the lab's broader scientific community to provide the fleet with the most accurate weather forecasts possible.

Accurately predicting the forecast for the U.S. Navy is an essential part of keeping the fleet safe and effective as they execute maritime missions around the world.

The Marine Meteorology Division has nearly 110 employees, the majority of which are federally employed scientists who study the Earth's atmosphere and its interactions with the environment to keep the U.S. Navy, as well as our nation, armed with the ability to accurately predict the weather.

Superintendent of NRL's Marine Meteorology Division, Dr. Jim Hansen said the mission to provide the most advanced weather science for the U.S. Navy is an innovative, collaborative process.

"We are committed to pursuing use-inspired, understanding driven research to better understand the environment, to better understand the atmosphere so that we can provide better guidance to our Warfighter," said Hansen.

The division's mission is critical for the Navy to perform maritime operations throughout the world, especially as the fleet may encounter dangerous hurricanes and other weather that could be detrimental to operations.

"One could argue that hurricanes and tropical cyclones are the most critical environmental threat to the U.S. Navy, both coastal and out at sea," said Dr. James Doyle, head of the division's Mesoscale Modeling Section. "The Navy needs accurate forecasts because they have to make decisions about where to move their ships when they're in port if there is a hurricane threatening, or where to route the ships to avoid any sort of hazardous conditions."

After completing a post-doc at Penn State University, Doyle began his career at NRL and has been with the Marine Meteorology Division for 25 years.

"I've found it really rewarding as I've matured in my career to be able to work with a really tremendous group of young scientists that we have here at NRL Monterey," said Doyle. "I've learned a tremendous amount, and I've learned a great deal from my excellent colleagues who are experts in this field."

NRL focuses on several areas of research making it possible for the scientists and researchers at the Marine Meteorology Division to cross-collaborate with scientists and researchers in other divisions across NRL that specialize in different areas of research.

"Meteorology is a really interdisciplinary problem, and we work with our colleagues across NRL to address these problems," said Doyle. "There is a lot of synergy between the many different parts of NRL."

That synergy allows for the scientists and researchers within the division to widen their breadth of knowledge beyond that of their current work and benefit from their colleagues in other fields of research.

"Working at the Naval Research Laboratory allows me to work with people in different disciplines and I've actually learned a lot by learning from other people's expertise and applying it to my research on hurricanes," said Dr. David Ryglicki, a hurricane specialist at NRL. "It allows me to broaden my personal knowledge base."

Having access to an abundance of researchers in a variety of scientific fields is a trait that is unique to NRL, as is the ability to conduct a wide range of research.

"Our division is the only place in the United States where you can do everything from absolute basic research all the way through to operational transition," said Hansen. "There is no other organization in the United States that can do that in the atmospheric sciences."

Hansen, who has been with NRL for 10 years, became the superintendent just over a year ago and said he enjoys his work. As a scientific leader, his philosophy is to stay out of the scientists' way and give them the support and tools that they need to be successful.

"What gets me out of bed in the morning, and excited to come to work at the Marine Meteorology Division is the people," said Hansen. "We have excellent scientists who are internationally renowned and doing amazing work and I am fortunate enough to have the job of assisting them in being as excellent as they can possibly be."
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Naval Research Laboratory

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