UCAR Highlights 2002

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Will we ever control the ferocious forces unleashed by wildfires? Or can we learn to live with the natural cycle of burning and regrowth? To develop tools for coexistence, the Wildland Fire Research and Development Collaboratory is tackling tough questions at the intersection of science and society.

Planet Finding (944k)

As astronomers find more and more planets orbiting distant stars, an NCAR scientist and his colleagues have for the first time detected the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. Now they plan to analyze the atmosphere in more depth, which may offer clues about the formations of solar systems—and possibly provide a method for finding life on other worlds.

A deluge we can't see (1.2mb)

Perhaps the hardest of the atmosphere’s basic ingredients to measure, water vapor was the quarry in spring 2002 for one of the continent’s biggest-ever weather studies. Measurements from ground sites, vehicles, and aircraft painted a three-dimensional portrait of water vapor that will improve understanding and prediction of thunderstorms and their hazards—especially flash floods, our most lethal weather risk.

The edge of weather (2.1mb)

The ozone hole is just one of the surprises to emerge from the little-explored atmosphere at the upper end of balloon and aircraft range. Upcoming satellites and a high-altitude jet promise to yield newly comprehensive detail on the chemistry and dynamics that rule our planet’s atmosphere above ten miles and influence life at the surface.

A new kind of library (1.1mb)

Via the Internet, two ambitious projects are helping to organize educational communities and improve access to learning materials in the geosciences and other scientific realms. Behind these scenes is an unusual blend of educators, librarians, technical innovators, and subject experts—all working to put interactive tools, animations, data sets, and other digital resources at a user’s fingertips.

Down-to-earth models (3.2mb)

Some of the hardest pieces to place in our planet’s jigsaw of climate include forests, crops, and pavement. A new tool for studying land-atmosphere exchange is bolstering NCAR’s flagship climate model and providing fresh views of the global atmosphere we’ll experience in the century to come.

Fine-scale help with foul weather (2.1mb)

While standard weather-forecasting models keep an eye on the jet stream and other continent-scale factors, thunderstorms, blizzards, and other localized
hazards can sneak through to cause havoc. A smaller-scale weather-forecast model nourished through an NCAR-university partnership is now used worldwide for commerce, defense, and basic research.

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Last revised: Wed Jun 19 14:05:42 MDT 2000