Highlights 2005

University Corporation for Atmospheric ResearchNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchUCAR Office of Programs

UCAR Goals

The highlights on the following pages encompass only a few of the many activities at UCAR, NCAR, and UOP. Below is a listing of UCAR’s six goal areas and a sampling of recent accomplishments and plans in each.

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Foster a broad scientific program of highest quality to address present and future needs of society

New scientists, new ideas
An infusion of 17 early-career scientists brought fresh blood to NCAR’s research in 2003–04. The new researchers are part of a multiyear plan to bolster the scientific and demographic diversity of the center’s staff. With backgrounds ranging from applied mathematics and geography to physical chemistry and marine science, these recent arrivals will play key roles in NCAR’s multidisciplinary strategic initiatives and new institutes. Many young scientists at the universities now meet with their counterparts at NCAR each summer for a three-day forum that stimulates discussion and collaboration on such topics as Sun-climate connections and the role of coastal zones in global biogeochemistry.

Research facilitiesResearch facilities

Develop and acquire state-of-the-art scientific research facilities for the atmospheric and related sciences community

A portrait of drought-quenching rains
The 2004 field phase of the North Amercan Monsoon Experiment (NAME) analyzed the surge of moisture that brings critical rain each summer from northwest Mexico into the southwest United States. NCAR’s S-Pol radar, deployed near Mazatlan, provided key data on torrential storms and the microphysics unfolding within them. Three of NCAR’s Integrated Sounding Systems gathered vertical profiles of wind, moisture, and temperature. NCAR scientists also helped deploy nearly 100 rain gauges along remote Mexican mountainsides. UOP’s Joint Office for Science Support maintained the NAME database and helped coordinate logistics for the field work, which was led by NOAA and Mexico’s weather service.

Ecucation and trainingEducation and training

Devote significant attention to education and training, with emphasis on women and minorities

Cultivating the geoscientists of tomorrow
In response to the decreasing flow of geoscience students into U.S. graduate schools, UCAR cohosted a March 2004 event aimed at bringing more undergraduates—especially those from underrepresented groups—into the field. Held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., the daylong GEO Forum brought dozens of college students from the mid-Atlantic region to hear talks from 14 eminent speakers and to network with peers and mentors. The meeting was sponsored by TIAA-CREF, The Weather Channel, and RS Information Systems.

Engaging the senses in climateEngaging the senses in climate

New exhibits at NCAR’s Mesa Laboratory are bringing color, sound, and texture to the story of the Earth system. The Climate Discovery exhibit offers a dynamic and comprehensive view of Earth’s past, present, and future climate. Touch-friendly elements include a tree-ring sample and a trilobite fossil. Weather and climate experts guide thousands of visitors through the Mesa Lab via audio tours on compact disk, now available at child and adult levels in both English and Spanish. A team of NCAR scientists and educators is producing a visitor’s guide for teachers that delves into more detail on the Little Ice Age and solar effects on climate.

Advocacy, public policy, and communicationAdvocacy, public policy, and communication

In cooperation with other institutions, play a strong role in developing enhanced and more effective methods of communication among scientists, policy makers, and the public in order to foster the use of science in the service of humankind

A voice for weather research
According to best estimates, weather shapes more than a quarter of U.S. economic output. To help make the nation’s policy makers more aware of the importance of weather research, UCAR has teamed with several private firms and nonprofit associations and over a dozen universities to form The Weather Coalition. Through joint statements and visits to Congress, the coalition serves the weather sector by advocating for research to improve U.S. weather prediction and warning capabilities and to map the nation’s societal and economic vulnerability to storms and other weather hazards.

Technology transferTechnology transfer

In conjunction with the UCAR Foundation, transfer appropriate UCAR technology to the public and private sectors

Smart system for airport safety
A software-and-sensor blend that offers improved short-term forecasts of winter weather could save money and boost passenger safety at airports often hobbled by snow and ice. Weather Support to Decision Making has been refined through more than a decade of NCAR research supported by the Federal Aviation Administration. Tested in Denver, WSDM is being considered for deployment at New York’s three major airports and at Minneapolis-St. Paul. The system has been licensed by the UCAR Foundation to Peak Weather, a for-profit firm launched in 2003 to help bring NCAR technology to market; it is being commercialized through a joint venture among Peak Weather, CLH Inc., and Weather Decision Technologies.

Regional and operational partnershipsResearch and operational partnerships

Strengthen the relationship between the operational and research communities in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences

Teamwork spanning agencies and countries
To be launched in late 2005, an array of six satellites in low Earth orbit will intercept signals from Global Positioning System satellites. By analyzing the atmosphere-induced bending of these signals, the system will produce some 2,500 vertical profiles of temperature, moisture, and electron density each day across the globe. Encouraged by landmark research conducted by UOP in the mid-1990s, Taiwan and the United States funded the $100 million Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate. UOP and NSF worked closely to shepherd the project through diplomatic and funding channels. COSMIC data may prove to be a vein of gold for climate research and monitoring, especially for the poorly sampled atmosphere above Earth’s oceans. Once brought into computer models at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction and other global centers for weather prediction, the data will help guide daily weather forecasts in the United States and around the world. COSMIC data will also be used to support ionospheric research and space weather forecasting.

(Photos by Carlye Calvin. Satellite image courtesy COSMIC.)


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