The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced they have upgraded the Global Forecast System (GFS) computer weather forecast model. In a media announcement, NOAA said, “These advancements will improve hurricane genesis forecasting, modeling for snowfall location, heavy rainfall forecasts, and overall model performance.” The technical name for the new version of the GFS model is the GFSv16.
With the upgrades in place, the GFS resolution will increase by doubling the number of vertical levels from 64 to 127. Improvements to atmospheric physics will enhance snowfall and rain forecasting capabilities too. And for the first time, the GFS will be coupled with WaveWatchIII, a global wave model that’ll extend current wave forecasts from 10 days out to 16.
“This substantial upgrade to the GFS, along with ongoing upgrades to our supercomputing capacity, demonstrates our commitment to advancing weather forecasting to fulfill our mission of protecting life and property,” said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Today’s upgrade also establishes a strong foundation for further planned enhancements that will allow for the assimilation of even more data into the model.”
To make sure this upgraded model is better than the last, NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) conducted retrospective and real-time testing in 2018, 2019, and even present. That analysis showed that the GFSv16 improved forecast skills in many areas, including snowfall forecasts, extreme rainfall events, and tropical cyclone formation.
Today’s announcement marks the first major upgrade to the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere (FV3) dynamical core-based GFS, which replaced the spectral dynamical core-based GFS in June 2019. The GFS with the FV3 dynamical core brings together the superior physics of the global atmosphere with day-to-day reliability and speed of operational numerical weather prediction.