We are pleased to have the opportunity to highlight the achievements of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and its research facilities and service programs through this review of UCAR and NCAR management of the center.
A successful national center must consist of the highest quality programs and staff focusing on important and challenging problems; extensive interactions within the institution, with the universities, and with other external collaborators; multidisciplinary breadth in programs; responsiveness and flexibility; and efficient and effective administrative staff and procedures. The quality and impact of NCAR's programs are best exemplified by its sustained scientific and technological activities and accomplishments.
NCAR provides leadership to the research community through strategic planning, initiation of new programs, and facility development and acquisition. NCAR staff contribute to the progress of major scientific initiatives through individual and collaborative research. For example, NCAR has been a critical player in extending the scope and driving the evolution of community models to improve our understanding of mesoscale, upper- atmosphere, climate, ocean, and land-surface processes. These activities have culminated in the creation of a coupled climate system model that is available to the community. Similarly, NCAR has brought together the capabilities of mesoscale research, atmospheric sensing technology, and societal applications to improve the ability to model and predict weather processes and severe weather events.
NCAR serves the community with scientific program planning activities, observational and computing facilities, field project and data support, community models, and educational resources. It also acts as a focal point for the dissemination of information through publications, workshops, conferences, colloquia, and Internet technologies.
Linkages with other parts of UCAR and the external community are an integral part of the way NCAR conducts all of its programs. Extensive cross-divisional interactions, in partnership with external collaborators, create the breadth of talent needed to address many of the important and complex problems in the atmospheric sciences. Scientific collaborations involve the universities, other research facilities, international groups, and industry. The center also hosts a large array of fora that bring together this diverse pool of talent to exchange information and advance scientific progress across many disciplines and institutions. Visitor programs are a visible and central mechanism for fostering such collaborations; NCAR hosts about 600 visitors every year. More than half of NCAR's peer-reviewed publications are the result of joint efforts with outside authors.
Education is an important part of NCAR's mission. For many years, the Advanced Study Program has been recognized worldwide. In recent years, the center's traditional educational focus has broadened to include secondary and elementary schools, undergraduate education, and the general public. NCAR's commitment to technology and knowledge transfer is evident across the organization. These activities are particularly strong in the area of aviation weather hazards research, which has led to new operational systems that are making aviation safer and more efficient.
Programs funded by agencies other than NSF complement and extend the center's capabilities. Primary among these are the High- Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Research Applications Program, funded primarily by the Federal Aviation Administration. These programs enhance NCAR's scientific program, strengthen internal and external linkages, and provide opportunities for science to serve society.
The intrinsic university governance role, continuous since NCAR's founding, affects all aspects of center management and has few if any analogs with other organizations. NCAR's programs are shaped through a consensus-based process that is unique among scientific centers, involving the universities, federal sponsors, and other scientific colleagues. This construct of interwoven relationships has been essential to the planning, management, oversight, operation, resource allocation, and review of NCAR since the very beginning. Communication and coordination with the National Science Foundation are close and continuous. The resulting day- to-day management of the center strives to be progressive and proactive, balancing scientific needs, responsible resource management, and development of the scientific, technological, and administrative staff.
As the challenges to the atmospheric science community continue to increase and the pace of change to all parts of society accelerates, UCAR and NCAR are prepared to provide leadership to meet these challenges in a timely, effective way, in partnership with the universities and other sister organizations.