Overcoming the Barrier to Extended Range Prediction over the Arctic

Planning Letter Due Date: July 1, 2017

The purpose of this ONR Departmental Research Initiative (DRI) is to enhance the understanding of dynamics of Arctic cyclones and their relationship to the tropopause polar vortex (TPV). Recent studies have lent support to the hypothesis that year-to-year variations in sea ice are driven to a great extent by a relatively small number of intense storms (“Arctic cyclones”). For a variety of reasons, they are very poorly predicted over the Arctic even by the most skillful NWP models. The inability to predict this forcing is a predictability barrier that must be overcome if intra- and interseasonal predictions of sea ice are to become a reality. The overarching objective of this DRI is to gain a new understanding of the basic processes governing the development and evolution of Arctic cyclones, and their influence on coupled air-sea-ice processes. We anticipate a field observation component as well as the utilization of a number of state-of-the-art global, regional and coupled air-sea-ice models to accomplish this objective.

Scientific Issues

Investigations should focus on the understanding Arctic cyclones, their mesoscale attendant features (e.g., low-level jets, fronts, tropopause folds), polar lows, and TPVs through theory, simulations, observations and model development. Besides identifying the shortcomings of current NWP models, a goal is to identify methods to improve the skill of future NWP systems. The following are examples of some research topics that are envisioned to address the overarching scientific issues related to improving prediction of these phenomena:

  1. Can multi-scale modeling systems be used to bridge the climate/weather domain inhabited by Arctic cyclones and TPVs and increase predictability of this seasonal driver of smaller scale forcing events?
  2. What factors influence the predictability of Arctic cyclones and what are the most important parameters and observations required for skillful forecasts of high-latitude cyclones and smaller-scale polar lows?
  3. How do air-sea-ice interaction processes occurring at the lower boundary respond to the influence of Arctic cyclones? How does the ocean-ice boundary morphology influence polar low genesis?
  4. What processes contribute to the intensification, properties, precipitation, and evolution of Arctic cyclones and their interactions with clouds and the boundary layer?

This DRI is expected to run for five years, from FY18 to FY22. Collaboration is encouraged, and it is anticipated that a science team will be formed and workshops held to coordinate research activities. It is anticipated that an observational component will be included. Leveraging other national and international Arctic field experiments planned for this time period (e.g. YOPP and MOSAiC) is also encouraged. ONR's Marine Meteorology and Space program team also will seek to collaborate with other agencies on potential field activities.

Planning Letter Content

The letter should include:

  • Contact information for the principal and co-investigators, including full mailing address, e-mail address and phone number for each
  • A maximum 3-page synopsis of the proposed research, including a rationale, questions and/or hypotheses to be addressed, the methods to be used, and anticipated results
  • An estimated budget, with approximate cost per year
  • Up to one page of relevant references to the literature
  • A 1-page biographical sketch for each investigator, with a focus on research activities and publications relevant to the proposed research

Full Planning Letter Guidelines are here.

Purpose of Planning Letters

The purpose of the planning letter is to allow investigators to submit their ideas for ONR to evaluate, provide feedback and indicate whether full proposals are encouraged. ONR will respond to planning letters with one month of receipt to allow sufficient time for full proposal preparation and submission by August 30, 2017. It is anticipated that awards will be made with funds available in the first or second quarter of FY18.

Submission of Planning Letters

Planning letters should be submitted no later than July 1, 2017, by email to:

Dr. Ronald J. Ferek
Program Officer, Marine Meteorology and Space Program
Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Research Division, Code 322
Office of Naval Research
Email: Ron.Ferek@navy.mil

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