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CHIPS Articles: Naval Oceanography Improves the Fleet’s Asymmetric Advantage

Naval Oceanography Improves the Fleet’s Asymmetric Advantage
By Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command - May 1, 2020
Today, the U.S. Navy operates over 290 ships and submarines in a growing Fleet with approximately one-third underway at any given time. These national assets require accurate environmental observations and predictions to conduct safe operations and tactically exploit the environment. The U.S. Navy’s primary capability to accurately predict the complex maritime environment in which these highly technical warfighting units work is getting a critical upgrade.

The Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) version 2.0 became operational on April 29, 2020, advancing weather and ocean forecasting and greatly improving overall Fleet safety and operations.

NAVGEM is the U. S. Navy's only information assured, global numerical weather prediction model, producing high-resolution ten-day forecasts providing the foundation for tactical decision aids. These capabilities include surface air temperature used in electromagnetic warfare, precise low-level winds used to inform flight operations, and atmospheric heat fluxes that couple with oceanographic models that directly affect the decision space of anti-submarine warfare commanders.

The model produces over 150,000 daily global products used by Navy forecasters which serves as foundational data for other high-resolution regional models and critical Navy and Marine Corps tactical decision systems. The NAVGEM improvements coincide with the U.S. Navy’s new Cray Shasta supercomputer, called Narwhal, that will be the first machine in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) that provides over ten petaflops of computing power.

“The pace of the Great Power Competition has accelerated and Naval Oceanography continues to advance technologies so that our Navy and Nation can maintain an asymmetric advantage,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “We provide that vital edge in environmental characterization and this improvement with NAVGEM 2.0 will allow us to continue to do that in a more precise way.”

NAVGEM 2.0 improves model resolution from 31km to ~19km with improved physics-dynamics coupling which more accurately represents important phenomena for warfighter decision-makers, including low-level winds, supporting flight operations of manned and unmanned aircraft. Improved cloud formation and movement prediction supports offensive and defensive intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The DoD’s HPCMP provided key personnel to refactor NAVGEM’s software code, improving the model’s ability to operate more efficiently on next generation supercomputing architectures to and allows broader options for continuity of operations plans and using commercial cloud services.

In addition to the advantages that NAVGEM 2.0 will provide to the U.S. Navy, it also enhances the Nation’s weather forecasting capabilities as a contributing model to the National Unified Operational Prediction Capability (NUOPC), along with other weather models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Air Force. As an ensemble forecast system, NUOPC is a critical tool used by state and federal planners and decision makers to help protect life and property at home and abroad.

NAVGEM 2.0 operates at the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC). Located in Monterey, Calif., and Stennis, Miss., FNMOC is the Navy’s premier numerical weather prediction center, and fulfills this role through a suite of global and regional meteorological and oceanographic models. The development of NAVGEM 2.0 was through the collaboration with the Research and Development partners at the Naval Research Laboratory-Monterey to rapidly develop, transition, and operationalize state-of-the-art products and services to the U.S. Navy.

Naval Oceanography has approximately 2,500 globally distributed military and civilian personnel, who collect, process and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to guarantee the U.S. Navy’s freedom of action in the physical battlespace from the depths of the ocean to the stars.

Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center Navy Global Environmental Model v2.0 illustrates surface (10 meter) isotachs, barbs and streamlines (kts) for the Northwest Pacific region. The Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) version 2.0 became operational on April 29, 2020, advancing weather and ocean forecasting and greatly improving overall Fleet safety and operations. NAVGEM 2.0 operates at FNMOC in Monterey, Calif., and Stennis, Miss.
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