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Project ID: 10-1-07-28

Year: 2010

Date Started: 06/01/2010

Date Completed: 11/12/2013

Title: An Investigation of the Differences Between Real Time Mesoscale Analysis and Observed Meteorological Conditions at RAWS Stations in the Northeast United States

Project Proposal Abstract: This proposal will investigate the differences between the gridded meteorological fields produced by the Real Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) and observed meteorological conditions at Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) for multiple years in the northeastern United States. Our goal is to improve the ability of fire weather forecasters and fire managers to interpret fire weather forecasts and compare them against RAWS, since fire weather forecasts and the RAWS observations derive from different and independent sources of meteorological information. National Weather Service (NWS) fire weather forecasts are produced using the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD), which is a gridded analysis of meteorological fields generated by forecasters at NWS forecast offices nationwide. The NDFD is verified by comparing its gridded meteorological fields against the RTMA, which is an advanced modeling and data assimilation system that provides the best-available hourly gridded estimate of surface and near-surface meteorological conditions. However, for fire management activities, which critically depend on fire weather forecasts, RAWS observations are the standard observational data employed for the calculation of fire danger indices, fire behavior analyses, and for observation-based decision support. RAWS fire weather observations are not included in the RTMA, and therefore are not used to verify and improve the NDFD. Thus, it is necessary for fire weather forecasters and fire managers to understand how RAWS observations differ from RTMA, and by association the NDFD, in order to make the best possible forecasts and fire management decisions with the available fire weather information. By performing a comprehensive statistical comparison between the RTMA and RAWS station data for multiple years in the northeast United States, we will document differences between the two sources of meteorological information and recommend methods by which the differences can be accounted for when preparing fire weather forecasts and making fire management decisions. Of great importance to this proposed project is that RAWS observations are not currently assimilated into the RTMA, making the RAWS network an independent data source with which we can both assess the ability of the RTMA to capture the temporal and spatial variability of fire weather quantities and to determine if systematic differences exist between the RTMA and RAWS observations at station locations. We will perform statistical analyses on archived RTMA fields and RAWS observations and develop tools to help fire weather forecasters and fire managers account for the differences. After completing the analyses and developing these new tools, we will coordinate with fire weather forecasters in the region to establish the best methodology for employing these tools and for disseminating guidance on how they can be used to interpret NWS fire weather forecast products and RAWS observations. We will then cooperate with fire management personnel to determine how this information can be communicated in a timely and efficient manner that will provide added value to the users without undermining the utility they already derive from NWS fire weather forecasts. We will work closely with fire management personnel and fire weather forecasters throughout this process, to ensure that the tools are implemented and interpreted in a scientifically defensible fashion, and to determine whether additional training is necessary before this information can be disseminated to all users of fire weather forecasts and RAWS observations.

Principal Investigator: Joseph J. Charney

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: NRS-Forest-Atmosphere-Ecosystem Interactions

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Michael T. Kiefer

Michigan State University

Department of Geography

Co-Principal Investigator

Sharon S. Zhong

Michigan State University

Department of Geography

Federal Cooperator

Joseph J. Charney

Forest Service

NRS-Forest-Atmosphere-Ecosystem Interactions

Federal Fiscal Representative

David Garrison

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


Great Plains

Lake States

Oak Woodlands


Southern Rockies









Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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