Dr. Elizabeth Smith earned her PhD at the University of Oklahoma in 2018. Now a scientist an NOAA’s NSSL, she is focused on boundary layer research and observations.
Together, the institutions that comprise the National Weather Center (NWC) community have been historically recognized as prominent leaders in severe weather research, radar meteorology, and mesoscale to storm scale prediction among other topics. As the scientific landscape evolves, so does the focus and strength of research institutions like these. When it was brought together, the National Weather Center became a model for how research can lead to societal impacts. Today a new call is out to improve our understanding of the atmospheric boundary layer to serve the growing and changing needs of modern society. Following the model of success in the realms of severe storms and radar meteorology, the NWC community is poised to become a global leader in boundary-layer meteorology.
There are several open research questions under the umbrella of boundary-layer research relevant to the NWC community. Improved understanding of boundary-layer processes can impact numerical Earth system modeling from direct numerical simulations to coarse global models. Boundary-layer science can enhance prediction on sub-hourly timescales to climate timescales. There are important questions about surface-atmosphere interactions (e.g., land-atmosphere, sea-atmosphere, ice-atmosphere) critical to understanding the impacts of a changing climate. Accurate boundary-layer representation is necessary to make seasonal-to-subseasonal prediction a reality. As observational and numerical capabilities improve, it is becoming clear that more complete understanding of the role of boundary layer processes is necessary to advance storm dynamics and morphology. Just this limited sampling of boundary-layer-related research topics shows that every institution in the NWC community has a vested interest in the advancement of boundary-layer science.
This report reflects on the NWC community’s strengths and weaknesses and identifies several science goals relevant to core partners, which will lead a new focus on boundary layer science. Some potential actions are also outlined for consideration. We are actively seeking feedback from the NWC community about the basic notions, science goals, and action items outlined herein. To be successful, this initiative requires lateral support and investment across NWC partners. Together, we can find a path to become collaborative leaders of boundary-layer research in the global atmospheric science community.