Support scientists for the U.S. Coastal Act Project

The UCAR Visiting Scientist Programs is seeking two visiting scientists for projects supporting the U.S. Coastal Act.


Date posted

Sep. 7, 2016 12:00 am

Application deadline

Sep. 30, 2016 12:00 am


The UCAR Visiting Scientist Programs


  • United States

Job description

Support scientists for the U.S. Coastal Act Project 

The UCAR Visiting Scientist Programs is seeking two visiting scientists for projects supporting the U.S. Coastal Act.  The positions are for two years and are located in College Park, Maryland at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Environmental Modeling Center. 

The deadline for applications is 30 September, but we will accept applications until the positions are filled.

UCAR will provide a salary that is commensurate with education and experience. UCAR benefits include group health and dental insurance, paid time off, mandatory participation in the TIAA retirement fund, and life insurance.

U.S. Citizenship, Permanent Residency, or other protected status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3) is required for this position. UCAR/NCAR will not sponsor a work visa (e.g., J-1, H1-B, etc.) for this position.

Wind, Gust and Surface Pressure Analyses Project

The successful candidate will work on developing an improved analysis capability for atmospheric conditions (sustained wind, wind gust, pressure and stability) near the surface and in the vicinity of where named tropical cyclones reached landfall along the coasts of the United States.  The candidate will work with and supplement an existing team at EMC advancing the capabilities of the Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) and the Unrestricted Mesoscale Analysis (URMA).  The work is in the specific context of the Consumer Option for an Alternative System to Allocate Losses (COASTAL) Act which requires NOAA to produce detailed post-storm analyses following named landfalling tropical storms to permit FEMA to “adjudicate” between wind-caused damages versus water-caused damages.  A demonstration system is to be in place at the end of a two-year period.

Qualifications and Requirements 

The candidate is expected to have an M.S. with at least five years of work experience or a recent Ph.D. (preferred) in meteorology or atmospheric sciences with experience in one or more of the following areas.

  • Working with observational near-surface data both over land and over water, including dealing with issues of quality control. Familiarity with BUFR would be beneficial.
  • Working with sophisticated objective analysis systems especially those based on the variational technique.
  • Working with numerical prediction models, such as HWRF or NMMB, especially when used as the background for objective analysis systems. Familiarity with GRIB2 would be beneficial. 
  • Knowledge and experience with scientific programming (e.g., FORTRAN, C/C++, Perl, and/or Python), with parallel programming using MPI and/or OpenMP, with shell scripts and/or workflows in a UNIX environment, and with one or more graphics utilities (e.g., GrADS, GEMPAK, NCL, IDL, and/or Matlab). 

The candidate must have good communication skills and be able to work with a diverse group of scientists across multiple organizations who are involved in various aspects of the COASTAL Act project. 

Wave – Surge Coupling Project

The successful candidate will support NCEP’s EMC with the wave modeling development work involved in coupling the spectral wave model WAVEWATCH III with the ADCIRC surge model from the National Ocean Service (NOS). This task is part of an inter agency collaborative effort to develop a modelling system for coastal flooding associated with ocean storms. 


The candidate will perform the functions of the job in a high-quality, independent and collaborative way, assisting in managing projects, and developing and applying innovative methods for the primary work areas below. 

The candidate will work with scientists at EMC and NOS to develop a coupled wave – surge modeling system for inundation studies associated with land falling hurricanes. The candidate will work on several tasks including the development and implementation of the WAVEWATCH III model on unstructured meshes for hurricane conditions, coupling of the wave model with the ADCIRC model in NOAA’s NEMS (NOAA Environmental Modeling System) coupling environment which is based on an ESMF framework, development and testing of different physics packages to accurately determine the total water level associated with inundation of land falling hurricanes. The specific activities will include: 

  • Training on the NEMS coupler environment and extending the WAVEWATCH III framework to work with unstructured grids (currently works with regular grids).
  • Implementation of the unstructured version of WAVEWATCH III on the ADCIRC grids for hurricane inundation studies and the testing of different physics packages for wave propagation and dissipation, especially in shallow coastal waters.
  • Work with NOS to develop a two – way coupled WAVEWATCH III / ADCIRC system using the NEMS framework. (ADCIRC development for NEMS will be done separately by NOS).
  • Further validation of the performance of the coupled system, focusing on impacts on coastal flooding. 

Required skills

Education and Experience:

  • A Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography, Coastal and/or Ocean Engineering, or a related physical or applied mathematical science, with at least 5 years of experience in the area of wave / surge modeling. 

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Experience with phase averaged wave models and shallow water circulation models
  • Experience with code development in FORTRAN, scripting in Linux/Unix shell environments and Matlab or Python,
  • Experience with running complex jobs, and processing large amounts of observed and modelled output data,

Desired skills

  • Experience in using mainframe supercomputers and/or workstations in a FORTRAN/UNIX environment, using statistical and display tools,
  • Proven ability to work well in a team environment,
  • Relevant peer-reviewed publications.
  • Good written and oral communication skills.
  • Good coding skills

For details and application instructions, please visit the UCAR Visiting Scientist Programs Website 

COASTAL Act Goals and Objectives

The Consumer Option for an Alternative System to Allocate Losses (COASTAL) Act was signed into law on July 6, 2012. The purpose of the COASTAL Act is to lower costs to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by better discerning wind versus water damage in the case of “indeterminate losses;” that is, where little tangible evidence beyond a building’s foundation (“slab”) remains for the proper adjustment of insurance claims for homes totally destroyed by a tropical cyclone. 

The COASTAL Act requires NOAA to produce detailed “post-storm assessments” in the aftermath of a damaging tropical cyclone that strikes the U.S. or its territories. Using output from a hindcast model (termed the “Named Storm Event Model” (NSEM) by the Act), the assessments will indicate the strength and timing of damaging winds and water at a given location in the area impacted by the tropical cyclone. If the assessment results for the location of a specific “slab” case can be certified by NOAA as being greater than 90 percent accurate, those results will be input into a FEMA-managed formula that considers a variety of factors that may have contributed to structural damage. Based on this formula, FEMA will determine the appropriate loss allocation between wind and water.  

The Act further requires NOAA to create a “Coastal Wind and Water Event Database” (CWWED) to provide the public access to “covered data” (the observations collected during the storm to assist with the assessment). The CWWED will serve as the portal through which the gridded post-storm assessment results and metadata will also be accessed by the public.


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