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1997-25 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 1997

NCAR Unveils North America's First Weather Trail

Contact: Bob Henson
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8605
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: bhenson@ucar.edu

Nita Razo
NCAR Visual Communications
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: 303-497-8606
E-mail: razo@ucar.edu

June 27, 1997
BOULDER--Most nature trails emphasize flora and fauna, but the wild and varied climate of Colorado's Front Range takes the spotlight in a new interpretive trail opening this summer at the Mesa Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Following a ribbon cutting on July 9, NCAR will celebrate the grand opening of the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail with a public reception from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 11. Meteorologists will be on hand during the reception to guide hikers and answer questions.

Inspired by a similar trail at the Swiss Meteorological Institute in Gstaad, the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail is believed to be the first interpretive trail in North America dedicated to weather and climate. The 0.4-mile (0.6-kilometer), wheelchair-accessible loop extends west from the Mesa Lab, at 1850 Table Mesa Drive in South Boulder. It includes a spur that connects to the Boulder Mountain Parks system just north of Bear Creek. The trail features 11 signs, each focusing on a single phenomenon that may be observed--or whose effects may be evident--from points along the way. Sign topics include

The trail is named after the founding director of NCAR and first president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR, which operates NCAR under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation). Walter Orr Roberts was affiliated with NCAR and UCAR from their birth in 1959-60 until his death in 1990. He was well known for his contributions to solar physics, including groundbreaking analysis of solar prominences, and for his strong belief that science should be applied in the service of society. Roberts's wife, Janet, will perform the ribbon cutting at the July 9 ceremony.

Formerly the Walter Orr Roberts Nature Trail, the path was improved in 1989 with support from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Public Service Company of Colorado, and the city of Boulder. This year's enhancements were supported by Friends of UCAR, a nonprofit development fund that contributes to UCAR's informal science education efforts. (For membership or other information on Friends of UCAR, contact UCAR development director Cynthia Schmidt, 303-497-2107, cschmidt@ucar.edu.)

Hikers may use the Mesa Lab's parking lot weekdays and weekends till sunset. The building itself, which features a number of weather-related exhibits, is open to the public for self-guided tours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Free guided noontime tours of the center, which was designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, are available on a drop-in basis each summer weekday through August 30 and each Wednesday during the fall, winter, and spring.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos of the Mesa Lab and environs may be obtained by contacting Nita Razo at the above address, phone, and e-mail. A "virtual trail" will be available on the World Wide Web beginning July 7.

-The End-

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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCARs sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.