President's Corner

UCAR Office of Programs: How can we help you?

by Jack Fellows, UOP director

In the early 1980s, the UCAR Board of Trustees directed UCAR management to expand its mission beyond that of operating NCAR to include additional projects requested by the UCAR community. Unidata (see below) was the first of these projects, joined by others over the next decade. The UCAR Office of Programs (UOP) was born in 1992, when UCAR decided this growing set of activities could be more effectively operated as a group with a separate management structure.

While probably not as well known as NCAR, UOP has become an increasingly important resource for the community of researchers and educators in atmospheric and related sciences. All of UOP’s programs are community initiated and led, and all of them work closely with NCAR and the universities to meet community needs. UOP programs come and go with time depending on those needs; there have been as few as 5 and as many as 10 UOP programs over the past 12 years. The sidebar shows our current roster of programs.

This past year has been a very busy one for UOP and its UCAR community partners, as together we pursue research, education, technology development, and other related efforts in ways we may never have dreamed possible. Below is a brief summary of some of these collaborative efforts and a few significant changes I’d like to bring to your attention. The UOP program directors and I hope you share our excitement and pride in this progress, and we would like to thank you for the opportunity to serve you. For a more complete report on this year’s community-based activities in UOP, please read our 2004 Annual Report.


UOP’s leaders (left to right): Jack Fellows (UOP director), Bill Kuo (COSMIC), Kathy Strand (UOP budget and administration director), Tim Spangler (COMET), Karyn Sawyer (JOSS), Craig Blurton (GLOBE), Meg Austin (VSP), Kaye Howe (NSDL), Mohan Ramamurthy (Unidata), Mary Marlino (DPC).

UOP mission
Helping the UCAR community meet its collective research and education needs
UOP values
Programs that are community initiated, community led and governed, and community service oriented
UOP focus
Education and training, technology development and data services, program support

Education and training

UOP community investments. In the past few years, community members have reported to UCAR that there are few instrumentation programs being taught in university departments and asked if we could help with this situation. In response, UOP’s David Fulker is leading an effort involving roughly a dozen university faculty to create a hands-on training program for instrumentation. The concept would be to invite community members to attend an intensive instrumentation workshop and capture the workshop for broad distribution as a COMET Web-based module and through DLESE. A community-based proposal is being submitted to NSF this fall. We envision that this approach could serve as a prototype for other initiatives beyond instrumentation.

GLOBE. In partnership with Colorado State University, UCAR was awarded a five-year cooperative agreement in June 2003 to manage the GLOBE Program. More than 25,000 teachers from 107 countries have participated in GLOBE workshops and students have reported just over 11 million GLOBE measurements. This fall GLOBE received a prestigious $25,000 Goldman Sachs Foundation Prize for Excellence in International Education. GLOBE is now sponsoring a field campaign called GLOBE ONE, involving students and scientists investigating the impacts of farming practices in Black Hawk County, Iowa. Helping to sponsor and organize such field programs is one way in which the community can support GLOBE, a great education program that could be an even better science program with the help of UCAR member institutions. GLOBE engages students during those critical years (grades 5 and 6) when many of them drop out of the math and science pipeline. If we hope to have students entering our field in the future, GLOBE is a program we need to support.

Digital libraries. UOP has been working closely with the community to develop new tools for teaching, conducting research, and providing educational resources at all levels through digital libraries, including hosting major components of NSDL and DLESE. NSDL encompasses all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, while DLESE is focused on the Earth sciences. These libraries are working together to provide effective tools to search, create, and manage collections and to build user communities. Both of these libraries are community governed and operated, and we urge you to make yourself familiar with their structure and content. NSDL and DLESE are excellent venues to find and disseminate research and educational materials.

MetEd Web site and COMET Multimedia Database. This past year COMET’s MetEd Web site underwent a major redesign. The new interface is organized by meteorology topics and provides easier access to all of COMET’s products and services. The new COMET Multimedia Database provides easier access to individual elements used in COMET distance learning materials, so that these resources can be reused by community members developing their own training and educational materials. For faculty who address the science and policy associated with climate change, COMET has just published a Web-based lecture by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth that provides an excellent overview of climate change and the impact that humans have on our climate. This Webcast covers the greenhouse effect, evidence of atmospheric change, global energy flows, the consequences of human influences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and predictions for future climate change. This is an excellent resource for both the science and policy classroom.

Postdoctoral program. This year marks the 14th year of the NOAA Postdoctoral Program in Climate and Global Change, which is managed by UOP’s Visiting Scientist Programs. This program has just awarded its 100th C&GC fellowship and has produced a distinguished group of climate scientists. VSP has recently begun administering another outstanding visiting scientist program, supported by the Climate Change Research Initiative, at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Students should be aware of these important community programs.

Research services and technology development

Satellite constellation. The COSMIC project, which will provide a daily global set of three-dimensional atmospheric profiles, is proceeding on schedule and within budget. All six instrument packages have been completed and shipped to Taiwan for integration into the six spacecraft, which are scheduled for launch in December 2005. The COSMIC GPS receiver is expected to perform better than previously flown GPS receivers. Meanwhile, the COSMIC team continues to explore novel ways to use both space- and ground-based GPS measurements. For example, the SuomiNet GPS sites measured precipitable water vapor associated with Hurricane Frances last September. GPS radio occultation data have been used to differentiate the performances of different types of radiosondes and to improve cyclone forecasting in the Antarctic.


A technician works on the COSMIC spacecraft. (Image courtesy COSMIC.)

Real-time data distribution. Unidata tools, including the Local Data Manager (LDM), Integrated Data Viewer (IDV), netCDF, and LEAD (Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery), have all made significant gains toward providing increased volumes of data to a growing and diverse community. The adoption of the LDM technology by the National Weather Service for the operational dissemination of real-time WSR-88D Level II radar data to academic, government, and private sector communities marked a milestone in Unidata’s history. (See the spring 2004 UCAR Quarterly)


This 3-D image showing surfaces of equal wind speed was produced with Unidata’s Integrated Data Viewer. (Image courtesy Unidata.)

This summary provides just a snapshot of UOP’s many efforts on behalf of the research and teaching community, and I encourage you to read the annual report cited above to learn more. We hope that you find these programs useful in your efforts to conduct research and teach students. Please don’t hesitate to contact me (, 303-497-8655) if you have comments or ideas on how UOP can better serve the community. These are your programs!


UOP’s Joint Office for Science Support assists field campaigns around the globe, as shown in these maps of recent international and U.S. efforts. The acronyms above include:

ACE-1: Aerosol Characterization Experiment
ACE-Asia: Aerosol Characterization Experiment, Asia-Pacific Region
ATLAS: Arctic Transitions in the Land-Atmosphere System
BAMEX: Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex Experiment
CAPE: Convection and Precipitation/Electrification Experiment CASES: Cooperative Atmosphere-Surface Exchange Study
CEPEX: Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment
DYCOMS-II: The Dynamics and Chemistry of Marine Stratocumulus Phase II
EPIC2001: East Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes in the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere System
ERICA: Experiment on Rapidly Intensifying Cyclones over the Atlantic
FASTEX: Fronts and Atlantic Storm Tracks Experiment
GALE: Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment
GAPP: GEWEX Americas Prediction Project
GATE: GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment
GCIP: GEWEX Continental-Scale International Project
HARP: Hawaiian Rainband Project
INDOEX: INDian Ocean Experiment
IHOP: International H2O Project
ITEX: International Tundra Experiment Lake-ICE: Lake-Induced Convection Experiment
LBA-TRMM: Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia-Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission
MAP: Mesoscale Alpine Program
MONEX: Monsoon Experiment
SCSMEX: South China Sea Monsoon Experiment
SALLJEX: South American Low-Level Jet Experiment
SBI: Western Arctic Shelf-Basin Interactions
SHEBA: Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean
STORM-FEST: STormscale Operation and Research Meteorology Fronts Experiment Systems Test
TAMEX: Taiwan Area Mesoscale Experiment
TOGA COARE: Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment
VORTEX: Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment

Current UOP programs
Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC)

Ensuring a successful collaborative science project between UCAR, several U.S. federal agencies, and Taiwan to launch a constellation of six microsatellites to collect atmospheric remote sensing data for weather prediction, climate, and ionospheric research

Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET)

Serving as a premier resource to support, enhance, convey, and stimulate scientific knowledge about the weather for the benefit of providers, educators, and users of weather information

Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Program Center

Providing the technical infrastructure and services for DLESE


Providing an international science and education program that brings together students, teachers, and scientists to support improved student achievement and gather important data for the global Earth science community

Joint Office for Science Support (JOSS)

Assisting the national and international research community in the organization and implementation of research programs in the atmospheric and related sciences

NSDL Central Office

Coordinating the development of the National Science Digital Library

Visiting Scientist Programs (VSP)

Providing postdoctoral and visiting scientist opportunities at universities and federal research labs and support for advisory panels and
scientific workshops


Providing data, tools, and community leadership for enhanced Earth-system education and research