New Exhibits and Theater Beckon Visitors to NCAR's Mesa Lab
BOULDER -- New exhibits have arrived just in time for holiday visits to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. NCAR's Mesa Lab is open seven days a week, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, but will be closed over the New Year's weekend. Visitors can try their hands on the Wave Tank, adjusting the flow rate and moving brightly colored obstacles inside the tank to see how turbulent patterns develop in its swirling fluid. Like water flowing around a rock, the crystal-enhanced liquid flows around an obstacle until it reaches its far side, where wispy, flowing swirls, called vortices, develop. The patterns are mesmerizing, but also informative. Analyzing flow patterns helps increase our understanding of weather patterns and is also useful for designing cars, ships, and anything else that moves fast.
A new addition to the Thunderstorm Detectives exhibit gives visitors a feel for what it's like to stand in the glass booth at the top of an air traffic control tower, looking out over runways and checking aviation weather on the computer monitor. Young visitors can try to spot microbursts in the terminal Doppler weather radar display.
In NCAR's new theater visitors can view a seven-minute video introducing some of the ways the atmosphere is studied--from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Sun--by researchers at NCAR and around the globe.
Favorite hands-on exhibits illustrate lightning, tornadoes, fog, wind shear, static buildup inside clouds, and other atmospheric phenomena. Other displays feature scientific equipment designed and built at NCAR, including a balloon-borne machine that has flown at 120,000 feet to bring back samples of ozone-destroying chlorine for study, an eclipse telescope-camera that has photographed solar eclipses around the world, and a robotic weather station designed to record weather data continuously. NCAR's scientific computing facility, with its high- performance supercomputers from IBM, Silicon Graphics, and Hewlett- Packard, can also be viewed.
Gaze at art or take a hike (it's wheelchair accessible)
Inspired by the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, NCAR's Mesa Lab commands spectacular views of the city below and easy access to hiking trails at the foot of the Flatirons, Boulder's signature mountains. A colorful collage, Explore the Mesa, portrays the flora, fauna, and geology outside NCAR's back door. Among the trails on and around the NCAR mesa is the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail, the nation's only interpretive weather trail and the only wheelchair-accessible nature trail in Boulder. A guidebook, Natural Features of NCAR's Mesa Site, is available in the lobby. The weather trail is also accessible on the Web.
Two art galleries offer changing displays of local artists (see the web page).
Noontime guided tours are offered Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the fall and winter. No reservations are needed for the hour-long tours and there is no fee. The noontime tours are for individuals and families. Organized groups wishing to tour NCAR should make a reservation for another time of day by calling 303-497-1173. The fall-winter schedule runs through June of 2000, when the summer timetable of guided tours Mondays through Saturdays resumes.
For those who cannot take the noontime tour, a self-guided tour is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. NCAR's library and cafeteria are open to the public on weekdays.
NCAR tour information is available on the Web. Phone 303-497-1174 for recorded information.
NCAR's Mesa Laboratory is located at the west end of Table Mesa Drive (exit off U.S. 36) in southwest Boulder. NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.
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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 UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.
Prepared for the web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Fri Apr 7 15:38:50 MDT 2000
Last revised: Fri Nov 19 09:19:11 MST 1999