Skip Navigation Links
NOAA logo - Click to go to the NOAA homepage National Weather Service NWS logo - Click to go to the NWS homepage
EMC Logo
Navigation Bar Left Cap Home News Organization
Navigation Bar End Cap

         MISSION / VISION    |    About EMC

NOAA     NWS     Presentation From The Director (ppt)

Environmental Modeling Center Leadership
Director: Dr.Hendrik Tolman (301) 683-3748

We are the premiere Environmental Numerical Prediction System Development Organization in the World. Our mission is to “Develop, enhance and maintain numerical forecast systems for the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and cryosphere in support of national and international forecast requirements.”
We are one of nine National Centers in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). NCEP, an arm of the NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), provides a wide variety of national and international weather guidance products to NWS field offices, government agencies, emergency managers, private sector meteorologists and oceanographers, and meteorological/oceanographic organizations and societies throughout the world. NCEP is a critical national resource in national and global weather prediction. NCEP is the starting point for nearly all weather forecasts in the United States.


Organizational chart of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction

What we do

    We develop numerical forecast systems for
  • -  Weather Prediction (domestic, global out to 15 days)
  • -  Ocean Prediction ( daily to annual; coastal to global)
  • -  Climate prediction (seasonal to inter-annual, coupled system).
    We enhance (test and improve) numerical forecasts through advanced
  • -  Data assimilation techniques
  • -  Model physics (parameterization)
  • -  Numerical methods
  • -  Computational physics.
    We maintain the scientific correctness and integrity of operational forecast systems by
  • -  Adapting to format changes and other changing operational requirements
  • -  Monitoring and ensuring the integrity of operational observing systems.
    We accomplish our objectives through
  • -  in-house research and development
  • -  cooperative alliances with the outside research community
  • -  visiting scientists
  • -  participation in international experiments.


1950's: photo showing 7 or 8 men standing, working 2 to a table, simultaneously constructing the 850 mb, 700 mb and 300 mb upper air analysis charts in an assembly line fashion.The story of operational Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) begins in 1954, when the Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit (JNWPU) was founded by the NWS and the military weather services. It was the ancestor of EMC, Air Force Global Weather Center and Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (US Navy). JNWPU began by issuing manually-produced weather prediction products, but the Joint Meteorology Committee (made up of the heads of the weather services) directed JNWPU to pursue operational NWP forecast production. JNWPU installed an IBM 701 computer in March 1955, and chose Charney's Princeton 3-level quasi-geostrophic model to be the first operational NWP model. When the model began running operationally later in 1955, the results were very disappointing and not usable by forecasters. JNWPU didn't have an operational NWP model until 1958, when a one-level, improved barotropic version of the Princeton model (with improved numerics, automated objective analysis initial conditions, and octagonal NH domain) was developed. After a new, more powerful IBM 704 computer was installed, JNWPU began using the model operationally to produce useful numerical forecasts.


1955: IBM 701 - Peak performance, 1000 operations per second.  Sustained performance, 300 operations per second.The JNWPU was co-located with the National Weather Analysis Center (NAWAC) at Suitland, MD from 1955 to 1958. In January 1958, JNWPU and NAWAC merged and formed the National Meteorological Center (NMC), the direct predecessor of NCEP, while the USAF and Navy formed their own global prediction centers (in Omaha and Monterey) to support military operations. NMC at once became the "nerve center" for weather data in the United States. NMC processed weather observations from around the globe and disseminated analyses and forecasts to customers throughout the U.S. and other countries. Research increased, with emphasis on developing faster and more accurate numerical techniques. It was the only such facility in the world at the time, and at least one publication described its creation as being "a milestone in the progress of meteorology." In January 1975 NMC (except for the supercomputer facility) moved to its present location in the World Weather Building (also known as the NOAA Science Center) in Camp Springs MD.


2002: IBM CCS Phase 1 - Massively Parallel - 704 CPUs - 1,849 GFlops.  2005: IBM CCS Phase 2 - Massively Parallel - 1,408 CPUs - 5,730 GFlopsIn October of 1995, NMC was reorganized into its current structure and renamed the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The Aviation Weather Center (AWC), Climate Prediction Center (CPC), Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC), Ocean Prediction Center (OPC), Storm Prediction Center (SPC), and Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) are NCEP service centers. EMC and NCEP Central Operations (NCO) provide support to the service centers; EMC by developing and maintaining numerical prediction and data assimilation models, and NCO by running the models and maintaining NCEP's IT and comm systems. In 2005, the Space Environment Center (SEC) also became part of NCEP and was renamed the Space Weather Prediction Center in October 2007.