About Us

National ESPC History

The National Unified Operational Prediction Capability (NUOPC), formed in 2008, is an agreement between Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Department of Defense (Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy and Air Force Directorate of Weather) to coordinate efforts and accelerate transition of new technology and eliminate unnecessary duplication to achieve a superior National global prediction capability.  NUOPC's principal efforts consist of a National operational numerical weather prediction system with a commitment to address common requirements, a multi-component system with interoperable components built upon common standards and a common framework, with managed ensemble diversity to quantify and bound forecast uncertainty and improved ensemble products to drive high-resolution regional/local prediction efforts around the globe.

     The Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC) was formed in 2010, with  an updated Charter in 2016, between the original NUOPC partners with the addition of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy (DoE), and National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve coordination and collaboration across federally sponsored environmental research and operational prediction communities for scientific development and operational implementation of improved global prediction at the weather-to-climate interface.

     The overlap between NUOPC and ESPC efforts over part of the time scale, and the consistency of participants, led the agencies to merge these partnerships into the National ESPC combining the prediction/projection missions (both operational- and research-oriented).  Interagency agreements are in process.

    What is the National ESPC?

    The National Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC) Inter-Agency program was established in 2010 to improve coordination and collaboration across the federally sponsored environmental research and operational prediction communities for the scientific development and operational implementation of improved global prediction at the weather to climate interface. Rather than emphasizing a single implementation of an air/land/sea/ice forecast system, the National ESPC is initially focused on identifying and developing sources of extended range predictability from synoptic to intraseasonal/interannual (ISI) timescales (NRC, BASC 2010) with the future addition of a multiannual to multi-decadal focus. Towards these goals, five focus projects monitor the state of science and predictability of subseasonal to intraseasonal/interannual earth system modes of variability.  Researchers are invited to participate in the definition and execution of these projects.

    Additionally, the National ESPC advocates for and supports the development of the basic architectural foundations such as common coupled modeling architectures, data and archive standards, computational efficiency and standardized forecast skill metrics. These supporting technologies will expand the scope of collaborative model development, common case studies and evaluation data sets to aid improved understanding of underlying physical processes. 

    In 2012, volunteer working groups across the weather and climate prediction communities established plans to coordinate future research efforts, and to coordinate ongoing efforts where appropriate. These efforts are to provide a unifying theme for developing the common modeling environment, establishing a community model repository of common data sets & test cases, and assess forecast skill at the ranges of interest against potential National ESPC stakeholder information needs. Ultimately these efforts will identify where sources of extended range predictability are sufficiently understood and reliable for use in future operational prediction with quantifiable uncertainty (NRC, BMSA 2012), at skill levels better than traditional approaches such as using long term climatological averages. Through this effort it is expected that critical path science and technology issues will be identified as future research challenges.

    Informed by the our current understanding of the underlying science of predictability in environmental processes, we expect that National ESPC efforts will result in more accurate and longer range prediction for use in policy, investment, and implementation decisions affecting the economy and protection of the US population. As largely a coordinating activity across the National ESPC stakeholder agencies (NOAA, Navy, Air Force, DoE, NASA and NSF) this effort will seek to coordinate and enhance sponsor-level multi-year investments from basic science through acquisition and operations.