In October 1991, a joint NASA, USAF, and NWS (Spaceflight Meteorology Group and WFO Melbourne) agreement was completed which established the Applied Meteorology Unit (AMU). Excerpts from a report which recommended the initial establishment of an AMU-like organization is available here. The AMU was tasked with applications development and technology transfer to improve forecasts for space shuttle weather operations with spin off benefits to public forecast and warning operations. WFO Melbourne staff have worked closely with the AMU entities since the establishment of the unit, resulting in a long list of benefits to the East Central Florida forecast and warning program. Several hundred scientific papers have been published to document the results of these local studies and forecast applications, with most of the work also presented to a wide range of audiences (national and local conferences, workshops, training seminars, etc.).
Early in 2006, WFO Melbourne enhanced their local concept of applications development and technology transfer by forming the Innovative Meteorological Products, Applications, and Collaborative Techniques (IMPACT) Meteorology Unit (IMU). The new NWS Melbourne "IMU" retained the previous "AMU" commitments, and further advanced the forecast process by placing a much greater emphasis upon the rapid-prototyping, assessment, and infusion of cutting-edge products and applications into local WFO Melbourne operations. The focus of forecast and warning improvements comprised of the very short-range time period, specifically today and tonight, with a particular emphasis on the next 8 hours. More accurate, detailed, and timely forecast and warning services were realized in large part through careful assessment of locally generated mesoscale model analyses and prognostic fields, several lightning sensor networks, and data from multiple radar sites. In addition, an increased emphasis was placed upon communicating weather messages to the public through new experimental processes, such as internet-based impact weather updates, two-way instant messaging, and an expanded suite of hazard graphics.
‘Turning Science into Service'