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1997-14 FOR RELEASE AFTER: May 1, 1997

NCAR Climate Model Named Finalist for Computerworld Smithsonian Award

Contact: David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
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May 1, 1997
BOULDER--A comprehensive computer model of the earth's climate created by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, has been selected as one of six finalists in the Environment, Energy, and Agriculture category for the 1997 Computerworld Smithsonian Awards. As part of the award, the Smithsonian Institution is adding the NCAR Climate System Model to its Permanent Research Collection of Information Technology Innovation at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. First-place honors will be announced at an awards dinner in Washington on June 9, and the entire 1997 Collection will be formally presented to the Smithsonian on June 10.

Developed with funding from the National Science Foundation, NCAR's Climate System Model (CSM) allows researchers to examine the potential impacts on the earth's climate of tropical deforestation, changes in agricultural practices, combustion of fossil fuels, and other human activities. Computer models are a critical tool for understanding the multiple interactions of the atmosphere, land surfaces, oceans, and sea ice--the four major components of the earth's climate system modeled by the CSM.

Previous climate models required artificial "flux correction" to make them resemble real-world observations. According to Maurice Blackmon, director of NCAR's Climate and Global Dynamics division, the CSM runs without flux correction for long experiments and produces data that look very much like the real world. The large and intricate model, developed by a team of approximately 30 scientists over three years, uses all of the capabilities of NCAR's CRAY C-90 supercomputer.

"The quality of the early simulations was much higher than expected, so we have been able to begin a program of major experimental work considerably earlier than anticipated," says Blackmon. Over the next three years, NCAR scientists will use the CSM to conduct studies in preparation for the next review by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due in 2000. That review provides the international scientific consensus on global warming for use by policymakers and others.

The Computerworld Smithsonian awards were created in 1989 "to search out and publicly honor those men and women whose visionary use of information technology produces social, economic, and educational progress." Chief executive officers from 100 of the country's leading information technology companies select the nominees in ten categories. In 1993, NCAR scientist Robert Chervin and affiliate scientist Albert Semtner won the first annual Computerworld Smithsonian Award for Breakthrough Computational Science.

The 1997 Innovation Collection finalists will be featured at the Innovation Network's World Wide Web site premiering June 9.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.

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