CIRES Numerical Weather Prediction Scientific Programmer or Software Engineer

Boulder, Colorado
Sep 17, 2018
Oct 17, 2018
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The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado is looking for a computer scientist to fill a Research Scientist position for its collaborative research as a Cooperative Institute with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) Global Systems Division (GSD). The incumbent will work within GSD’s Modeling and Assimilation research Branches (MDB and ADB).


The Global Systems Division (GSD) of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) is designing, developing and testing new weather models to improve weather prediction. The goal is to improve prediction of severe weather including hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, flooding, and other weather that can have enormous impact on transportation, commerce, energy, and other sectors of the U.S. economy. Increasingly accurate forecasts depend on large high-performance supercomputers to run advanced weather prediction models.

GSD is collaborating with the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) of the National Weather Service (NWS) as well as other NOAA laboratories and national research institutes on the next generation Unified Forecast System (UFS). Key NOAA strategic mission goals are designed to reduce the loss of life, injury, and economic costs. To achieve these goals NOAA will improve Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S), medium range global prediction, and regional and storm scale prediction capabilities for weather and possibly air quality. Since computational efficiency is of great importance, the scientist will help to optimize and transfer GSD’s global and regional-scale Numerical Weather Prediction knowledge developed for the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) and Rapid Refresh (RAP) Weather Research Forecasting dynamic core models into NOAA’s new unified Finite Volume (FV3)  dynamic core modeling system. The successful candidate may work on a progression of three related projects over the next several years.  These include the development and demonstration of the value of the Convection-Allowing Model (CAM) forecast systems to help increase lead times for hazardous weather events, the improvement and inclusion of advanced state-of-the-art physical parameterizations in both regional and global version of the UFS, and the improvement and inclusion of aerosol and chemistry modules in the UFS. This position requires an individual who has strong skills in software development, model building, and helping construct a software infrastructure that will eventually be used for both research and operations within NOAA.

Who We Are

At CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, more than 800 environmental scientists work to understand the dynamic Earth system, including people’s relationship with the planet. CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder, and our areas of expertise include weather and climate, changes at the Earth’s poles, air quality and atmospheric chemistry, water resources, and solid Earth sciences. Our vision is to be instrumental in ensuring a sustainable future environment by advancing scientific and societal understanding of the Earth system.


The principal duties of this position are:

  1. Optimize the performance of GSD’s modeling systems on NOAA’s supercomputers. Facilitate the transfer and optimization of these models on to NOAA’s operational WCOSS supercomputer.
  2. Work with GSD and many other scientists from NOAA labs and/or the academic community to develop and improve the global FV3 and also the Stand-Alone-Regional (SAR) FV3-CAM model and be part of a team of scientists that injects new science innovations into the model. The incumbent will also aid improvement of the data assimilation systems.
  3. Work with GSD and many other scientists from NOAA labs and/or the academic community to aid the improvement and inclusion of advanced state-of-the-art physical parameterizations in both regional and global version of the UFS 
  4. Work with GSD and many other scientists from NOAA labs and/or the academic community to aid the improvement and inclusion of advanced state-of-the-art aerosol and chemistry modules into both, regional and global version of the UFS 
  5. Work with GSD and other scientists from NOAA labs to combine our regional and global modeling systems with one or more ensemble data assimilation systems 
  6. Contribute to an OAR- or NOAA-wide investigation of state-of-the art coding strategies, software tools, and engineering best practices, with the goal of building a forward-looking infrastructure that is architecturally agnostic, scientifically understandable, very efficient, and highly scalable.

While a candidate will need to be self-directed, they will work closely with other members of GSD’s modeling and data assimilation teams, the GSD High Performance Computing and Advanced Architecture team, the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Warn-on-Forecast team in Norman, Oklahoma, and scientists from the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) in College Park, Maryland.

What We Can Offer Starting salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications. Requirements

  • M.S. in Computer Science/Physics/Applied Mathematics/Meteorology or STEM discipline with at least 4 years of post-degree experience as a scientific programmer working with geophysical or fluid dynamics models OR PhD in one of those areas and at least 2 years of post-degree experience as a scientific programmer.
  • Experience with modifying modeling system codes (e.g., HRRR, RAP, HWRF, GFS, FV3, COAMPS, WRF, OMEGA, MPAS, GSI, DART). 
  • Demonstrated experience running scientific software on large-scale HPC supercomputer resources (e.g., NOAA’s supercomputer platforms such as WCOSS, JET, Theia, and Gaea).

What You Will Need

  • Proficiency using open source scripting software (e.g., Python, NCL, CSH).
  • Highly skilled in developing, optimizing, and testing software in compiled languages (e.g., FORTRAN, C, or C++) and modern software management tools (e.g., Make, Git).
  • Ability to work and communicate effectively within a team environment and to facilitate communications across multiple teams and multiple organizational units.

What We Would Like You To Have

  • Some knowledge of ensemble data assimilation theory and techniques.
  • Some knowledge of atmospheric physical processes.
  • Ability to prepare technical analyses and reports for senior level management.

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