One of the many functions of ARL is to provide meteorological services and related research to NOAA and to other Federal agencies, in order to predict the consequences of atmospheric releases of radioactivity and other potentially harmful materials. For example, ARL's volcanic ash program provides critical information on plume transport and dispersion to the aviation industry; ARL's involvement in the Kuwait oil fires provided real-time application of ARL's emergency response capabilities; and ARL, together with the help of the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), is a Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for transport and dispersion products through the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). ARL, along with the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC), the joint RSMC for this region, provide meteorological guidance and dispersion predictions in the event of an atmospheric release of radioactive or hazardous materials crossing international boundaries in North and Central America.
ARL has a unique working arrangement with its partner organization, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) of the National Weather Service (NWS). This arrangement allows ARL to access meteorological observations and forecast model fields that have been specifically selected for use in atmospheric dispersion models, such as the HYSPLIT model. Close collaboration with NCEP has given ARL the ability to access gridded meteorological data as soon as the forecast model completes its execution at NCEP.
ARL also has established a direct communications line between it's own computers and the NWS Telecommunications Gateway (NWSTG) computers. This connection provides ARL with all regularly transmitted text and gridded data from the Family of Services (FOS) offered by NWS. These data include observations and forecasts issued by the NWS.
READY was initially developed to pool together the many computer resources available at ARL for displaying meteorological data and atmospheric transport model products. READY, originally developed for the PC, has now been made available to anyone with a web browser. Users can access many of the products available to ARL personnel for analyzing forecast meteorological data. In addition users can run the HYSPLIT transport and dispersion model, which makes READY, via the web, unique.