The COMET Program was created 25 years ago, with the specific mission to support the National Weather Service Modernization and Associated Restructuring (MAR) that introduced Doppler radar, automated surface observations, satellite data and increased computing power.
COMET’s role was to train 7,000 NWS forecasters to use these data, in order to improve the accuracy of mesoscale forecasting. COMET hosted on-site training in Boulder, Colorado, led by experts in meteorological research and operational forecasting. The delivery of training has evolved from laser discs to online training modules on the MedEd website.
The MedEd site, which was set up in 1997, currently has 375,000 registered users, from more than 190 countries, and 750 hours of geoscience training in multiple languages. COMET courses now cover a host of geoscience topics, including satellite meteorology, space weather, wildfire behaviour, geodetic surveying, climate change, prediction of oil spills and extreme weather events.
Anticipating the need for 10,000 new forecasters over the next decade and a continued growth in demand for training services, COMET is now working with the WMO on a ‘virtual global campus’ concept.