NOAA / Space Weather Prediction Center

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RPC Introduction


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RPC Introduction

The initial Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC) effort at the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the Magnetospheric Specification Model (MSM), was the result of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between SWPC and Sterling Software, Inc.

The RPC is a facility to expedite testing and transitioning of new models and data into operational use. Prospective models range in complexity from simple look-up tables to large-scale numerical simulations. The possible data sources likewise range in complexity, from single-point measurements of a scalar quantity to complex, multi-spectral images. The nearly continuous development of new models and new data sources, fostered in part by the National Space Weather Program activities, provides opportunities to improve and to expand the Space Weather Prediction Center's services; however, these new opportunities also introduce new challenges. Namely, the available models and data must be carefully evaluated to determine their usefulness, robustness, and accuracy to the SWPC forecasters and to its diverse customer base. In addition, the relationship between internal efforts and complementary/competing external efforts must be carefully coordinated; and the impact of RPC development on internal computer systems and staff resources must be considered.

The RPC is functionally divided into three areas: (1) model/data evaluation to assess the potential value to SWPC operations and readiness to transition from research to operations (2) implementation, modification and evaluation in an operational environment, and (3) final transition to operational use. Guidelines have been established that focus the evaluation made within each of these three areas and that govern the progression from one area to the next. No single set of guidelines will be appropriate for all models or data sources, and therefore the guidelines have been written to outline the important general issues related to transitioning models and data to operational use. These guidelines are outlined in the RPC Process section.

The RPC consists of computer systems networked to provide ready access to remote researchers and supercomputing centers, to local real-time operational data/models, and by forecasters in the operations center. The RPC staff, comprised of members of the SWPC staff in the Systems, Operations, and Research Divisions alongside contractors and private partners, works with the modelers and data providers through all stages of the prototyping process. The staff evaluates the model/data suitability prior to acceptance into the RPC, assists the modeler to implement the code on the RPC computers, assists in developing the necessary visualization tools, develops a concept for the operational use of the model output, and arranges for the dissemination of prototype products to current and potential customers. The forecasters and the RPC staff together evaluate the model performance and the eventual suitability for operational use.

Last Page Update: April, 1998