Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics Focus Area

WAD researches the dynamics of the atmosphere to improve our understanding of the fundamental processes that drive weather.

The Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics focus area (WAD) supports research to obtain accurate measurements of the atmosphere that help improve short-term, subseasonal, and seasonal weather predictions at local, regional, and global scales. Weather includes everything from localized microphysical processes that occur in minutes, to global-scale phenomena that can occur for an entire season. WAD helps improve our knowledge of the fundamental processes that drive these systems and inform the operational infrastructure upon which other federal agencies rely, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). WAD further supports research into profiling winds, temperature, humidity, pressure, and aerosols; air-sea and land-atmosphere interactions; and lightning occurrences.

WAD Research Questions

Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics addresses the following overarching questions:

Earth satellite data
How can sub-seasonal to seasonal weather forecast duration and reliability be improved?
Photograph of clouds
How can we improve predictive capability for weather, including extreme events?
Earth satellite data
What is the role of deep convective towers and precipitation on a tropical storm’s life cycle?
Satellite data of hurricane
To what extent are storm intensification processes predictable?
Satellite data
How can we use NASA, NOAA and other countries’ satellite observations innovatively and transition new algorithms, data, and tools to weather forecast operations at our partner agencies?

WAD Associated Missions

The table below lists all the NASA Earth missions that are relevant to the Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics focus area in all phases.

Operating Satellites

Operating Suborbital/Airborne

Operating Ground-Based

In Development Satellites

Under Study Satellites

Past Satellites

Past Suborbital/Airborne

Learn more about WAD

Research Programs

Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Science

WAD studies the dynamics of the atmosphere, precipitation, and wind to better understand the conditions that drive specific weather events. This research improves computer models, algorithms, and data assimilation that support short-term to seasonal weather prediction and understanding. To do this, WAD observes atmospheric phenomena associated with the water cycle – including precipitation, severe storms, lightning, and tropical cyclones – to determine the relationship between atmospheric thermodynamics, dynamics, storm structure, and convection; ocean surface properties; and radiation within weather systems. Ultimately, WAD hopes to improve process models in these areas, provide initial conditions and assimilation of data to better characterize and understand weather systems, and develop long-term time series of atmospheric analyses to support weather and climate studies.

Satellite Data Assimilation

WAD supports research in two areas to help advance satellite data assimilation.

The Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) uses comprehensive global models and data assimilation techniques to maximize the impact of satellite observations in climate, weather, and atmospheric composition prediction. To achieve this goal, GMAO develops models and assimilation systems for the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface; generates products to support NASA instrument teams for field campaigns and the NASA Earth Science Research and Analysis program; and undertakes scientific research to inform modeling system development pathways.

The Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA) is a partnership among NASA, NOAA, and DoD. Its mission is to accelerate and improve the quantitative use of research and operational satellite data in weather, ocean, and environmental analysis and prediction models.

Short-term Prediction Research and Transition

The Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT) takes the data products and algorthims from NASA research satellites and transitions them to NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). SPoRT aims to improve short-term forecasts on a regional scale.

WAD for Scientists

Research and Funding Opportunities

Solicited program elements relevant to WAD are publicized through the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) NASA Research Announcements (NRAs) on the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) website. Past, open, and future solicitations can be searched and viewed on NSPIRES.

Current solicitations of interest to the Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics community:

NASA Research Resources, Associated Programs, and Partnerships

Access NASA data related to WAD and learn more about center-level WAD programs and partnerships at the links below:

Guiding and Planning Documents

Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs)

NASA Center Programs

Interagency and International Partnerships

Contact WAD

Tsengdar Lee
Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics Focus Area Lead and Program Scientist
Weather Modeling and Data Assimilation
Short-term Weather Research and Transition
Contact | Bio

Will McCarty
Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics Program Scientist
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), CYGNSS, LIS, and Aqua
Contact | Bio

In memoriam, Gail Skofronick-Jackson (Bio)