Introduction

Welcome to UCAR Highlights, our biennial overview of the activities of UCAR and its two major components, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the UCAR Office of Programs (UOP).

As this report was being prepared, one of the hottest and driest summers on record dominated the western third of the United States. Wildfires in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and other states made the news almost every day. Meanwhile, in a rapidly approaching winter at the other end of the world, the 18,000-ton cargo ship Magdalena Oldendorff became stranded in the freezing ocean waters off the Antarctic coast. This issue of Highlights contains stories of both the fire of the Northern Hemisphere summer and the ice of the Southern Hemisphere winter, including how UCAR and its colleagues are contributing to the study and mitigation of these extremes and their impacts.

A number of crosscutting themes run through this document. The stories reflect the six goal areas of UCAR: science; community observational, computational, and modeling facilities; education, training, and outreach; advocacy, public policy, and communications; technology transfer; and partnerships. There are numerous examples of collaboration with the university community and other institutions around the nation and the world. Another theme is leadership and community service. And underlying all our activities is a commitment to building human resources, one of the most critical tasks facing the nation.

Throughout this document you will find examples of how NCAR, UOP, and community members define and lead exciting new research and education initiatives. For more than 40 years, this partnership has allowed our community to take bold steps in advancing both research and education frontiersóincluding finding new planets, building innovative satellites, crafting field campaigns to better understand severe weather, creating digital libraries to improve the discovery of the world around us, and much more. With significant help from the community, much of this is now guided by NCARís new strategic plan, which helps integrate NCAR and community efforts in new and novel ways.

With this report we salute the dedication to quality, discovery, education, and service of the UCAR staff and their many collaborators at universities and other research centers. The work catalyzed by UCARís unique community of researchers would not be possible without the support of the National Science Foundation and the other sponsors of UCAR. More than ever, it is the mix of people, institutions, and ideas under the UCAR umbrella that allows our institution to thrive in a scientific arena of critical importance to the 21st century: exploring the connections among all parts of the Earth system, including society itself.

Richard Anthes
UCAR president
Jack Fellows
UOP director

Tim Killeen
NCAR director

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Highlights 2002