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National Weather and Climate Prediction Center Opens at UMD

October 19, 2012

Lee Tune, 301 405 4679 or

  NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in UMD's M Square research park.
Image Credit: John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The eye of weather and climate prediction for the nation is now a centerpiece of M Square, the University of Maryland Research Park. This week, the federal government officially opened the long-awaited Center for Weather and Climate Prediction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The new center brings together more than 800 NOAA employees from several different outdated buildings and puts them in an innovative, state-of-the-art facility designed by a team of architects led by University of Maryland alum Roger Schwabacher M.A. Arch. '99.

"We at the University of Maryland are thrilled to have [NOAA] as a key partner in our M Square Research Park," said University President Wallace Loh, speaking at the opening ceremonies. "And for the first time we will have right here in this region, I believe, the greatest concentration of earth, climate and weather scientists in the world."

The new NOAA center provides the nation with a broad range of environmental services - from predicting the hurricane season and El Niño/La Niña to forecasting ocean currents and large-scale rain and snow storms. Billions of earth observations from around the world flow through environmental models, developed and managed in the new building, that support the nation's weather forecasts.

The center's new building is deliberately next door UMD's Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) and Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) -- leading centers on earth science, climate change and energy use. NOAA and the University of Maryland have established a collaborative agreement designed to maximize the enhanced academic and research opportunities made possible by the new center and its location adjacent to campus.

"NOAA depends on the research community and we are excited about the partnership with the University of Maryland," said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA's National Weather Service.

A NOAA news release says the agency is developing and expanding programs for the new center to increase scientific collaboration between its researchers and forecasters and University of Maryland faculty and students, as well as other scientists across the nation and abroad. "A new partnership with the University of Maryland will inspire the next generation of earth scientists by pairing undergraduates in the department of atmospheric and oceanic science with researchers at the center to earn federal requirements to become certified meteorologists and oceanographers," NOAA says.

About 25 UMD undergraduates are enrolled in the university's new atmospheric and oceanic sciences major that will offer internships and research opportunities through NOAA's center. The new NOAA center is "terrific for recruiting students," says research scientist Jeffry Stehr, who is associate director for professional masters & undergraduate programs in the department of atmospheric & oceanic science.

UMD alum Schwabacher led the design of the energy-efficient building, which features a soaring atrium, a green roof and rainwater bio-retention. Its work environment is designed to encourage scientific interaction by co-locating scientists from across disciplines and creating an open concept design to promote greater communication and collaboration.

"This facility is an important investment in our nation's future," said Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "It's a place where government, academia and others can come together to make new discoveries, drive innovation, and uncover new ways to give our citizens and businesses the information they need to make smart decisions, whether that's deciding how to ship their products to customers or just taking care of day-to-day tasks."

UMD Partnering to Understand and Respond to Changes in Climate and Weather

Over the past 15 years, the university has built on its long tradition of excellence in atmospheric, climate, biological, and earth science to develop major new partnerships with NOAA, NASA and other federal agencies in the areas of earth science, remote imaging, climate change and energy research. In addition to the latest NOAA partnership, UMD collaborations and initiatives include leading the NOAA-supported Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS); the long-standing cooperative agreement between UMDs Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center; the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership between the university and the Department of Energy; and a collaborative UMD initiative called Climate Information: Responding to User Needs (CIRUN).

About M Square

M Square is a public-private partnership between Corporate Office Properties Trust and the University of Maryland (UMD). Maryland's largest research park, when fully built out, will encompass two million square feet and employ an estimated 6,500 people. The park's location serves to link physically and programmatically university researchers, students and staff with federal laboratories and private sector companies. Key technology clusters at the park include: environmental and earth sciences (NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, Joint Global Change Research Institute, and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center); food safety and agriculture policy (USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, UMD/FDA Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition); and language and national security (Center for Advanced Study of Language, National Foreign Language Center, Raytheon, and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity).