WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Learning Excellence and Good Examples from New Developers (LEGEND) Act, legislation that would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make certain operational models publicly available and utilize any innovations to improve the models that are developed as a result of public collaboration.
“The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers in my state often depend on forecasting accuracy, so it’s important that we find innovative ways to improve government forecasting capabilities,” said Thune. “This legislation, which builds off my work to improve weather forecasting throughout my time serving on the Commerce Committee, makes NOAA’s current and future models more accessible to outside experts—including scientists and engineers in academia— who can provide new insights to improve existing forecasting models.”
“In a place like Hawai‘i, NOAA models provide vital warning for hurricanes, king tides, and tsunami,” said Schatz. “Making the code for these models open source will make it easier for experts to partner with NOAA to improve forecasts and keep our communities safe.”
On January 7, 2019, the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018 included a requirement for the U.S. Weather Research Program to establish the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC), which was intended to advance weather modeling and improve the translation of forecasting research into operational models by leveraging private sector innovations. When fully established, EPIC would provide a platform for stakeholder collaboration to improve operational models and greatly advance NOAA’s forecasting skill.
The LEGEND Act would clarify and strengthen the efforts of EPIC through the following provisions:
- Make Certain Operational Models Publicly Available
Stakeholders currently do not have access to the operational models developed by NOAA. The bill would require the agency to make its operational models open source by publically posting the source code, including information about the models and the data they use. This includes the data used for current operational forecasts and a description of intended model outputs.
- Review Models and Leverage Innovations
EPIC is intended to promote collaboration with the private sector. LEGEND strengthens this by mandating periodic reviews and adoption of innovations and improvements to the operational models made by parties outside NOAA.
- Report on Implementation
This bill also requires NOAA, within one year, to submit a report on the implementation of LEGEND’s mandates.