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UM Researcher Helps Provide Extended Weather Forecasts to U.S. Navy

By Diana Udel

UM Researcher Helps Provide Extended Weather Forecasts to U.S. Navy

By Diana Udel
UM Rosenstiel School’s Ben Kirtman partners with Charles River Analytics on the effort

MIAMI – The US Navy is seeking tools for extended environmental forecasts, which can aid in planning missions, training schedules, and transit routes. Charles River Analytics is designing big data machine learning tools that could support an extended-range weather prediction service under the Climatological Observations for Maritime Prediction and Analysis Support Service effort, known as COMPASS, and partnering with University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Benjamin Kirtman on the effort.

"This project is an excellent example of how short-term climate predictions can be used to provide operational support in planning National security missions," said Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School.

COMPASS will produce a unified forecast up to twelve months in advance using the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME). It will incorporate multiple forecast models from different meteorology and climatology modeling centers to produce a single unified and improved forecast for a specific time period and location. Kirtman is the lead Principal Investigator on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) NMME program.

“In COMPASS, we’re using newly available extended-range forecasts to produce a unified and more accurate long range probabilistic forecast for a specific time period and location of interest,” explained Mr. Joe Gorman, Division Software Engineer at Charles River and Principal Investigator on COMPASS.

Charles River will apply machine learning techniques and its Figaro probabilistic programming language to learn how to combine multiple models to better predict environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, wind stress, and cloud cover). Figaro is a free, open-source probabilistic programming language for probabilistic modeling.

“We will evaluate available weather data and determine how to optimally combine multiple weather and climate models to produce a single, improved forecast using Figaro,” added Mr. Gorman. “We will use Figaro’s built-in machine learning and inference capabilities to produce in an effective manner a coherent unified forecast from individual time, location predictions.”

This material is based upon work supported by the US Navy under Contract No. N00014-15-P-1067. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Navy.

About Charles River Analytics

Since 1983, Charles River Analytics ( has been delivering intelligent systems that transform our customers' data into mission-relevant tools and solutions to support critical assessment and decision-making. Charles River continues to grow its technology, customer base, and strategic alliances through research and development programs for the DoD and the Intelligence Community, addressing a broad spectrum of mission areas and functional domains, including: sensor and image processing, situation assessment and decision aiding, human systems integration, and cyber analytics. These efforts have resulted in a series of successful products that support continued growth in our core R&D contracting business, as well as the commercial sector. Charles River became an employee-owned company in 2012, to set the stage for the next-generation of innovation, service, and growth.

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About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, visit: