NCAR director Tim Killeen is leading NCAR through its
first major reorganization in over 15 years. In support of NCAR's strategic
plan (see "On the Web"), Killeen and his management team
have set out to help the center place a greater focus on broad, interdisciplinary
initiatives and make it easier to manage this research with partners
in the university community.
The plan, which received approval from the UCAR Board of Trustees
in February, organizes NCAR into five large sections, or laboratories
It also enhances NCAR's educational activities and creates
new institutes to facilitate collaboration among different parts
of UCAR and with the university community.
One of the new labs will comprise several of NCAR's science
divisions. Two other labs will help NCAR's servicedivisions
continue to offer high-quality facilities and support to the community
while drawing on emerging technology more readily.
"The reorganization will allow us to respond to the changing
world of atmospheric sciences in a way that will best serve the
community and the nation," says Killeen. Through the reorganization,
he adds, NCAR will build on its disciplinary strengths and increase
its efforts on interdisciplinary science that can be carried forward
in full collaboration with university-based atmospheric researchers.
In addition to restructuring current activities, the reorganization
will create institutes that provide connectivity and leadership in
key areas across NCAR and the research community.
• The Institute for Mathematics Applied to the Geosciences
(IMAGe) will build on existing geophysical statistics and geophysical
turbulence programs and a strategic initiative on data assimilation.
"IMAGe will be a home for visitors who have a background in mathematics,"
according to Douglas Nychka, one of the institute’s founding
now there are many good connections for these people at NCAR, but no
home, no place for them to come to."
Nychka and his colleagues envision IMAGe as a visitor-oriented program,
including everything from short-term stays to postdoc and multiyear
appointments. "We aren’t talking about a big, permanent
scientific staff," says Nychka. "Instead, IMAGe will
serve as a 'terminal,' where people are coming through,
changing directions a little bit, and going back out to the universities."
The institute’s founders plan to work closely with two similar
groups: the Statistical and Applied Mathematics Science Institute
in North Carolina’s research triangle and the Institute for
Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of California, Los
• The Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment
(ISSE) will incorporate and build on the long record of internationally recognized
research conducted by the present Environmental and Societal Impacts
Group (ESIG). It will include expanded visitor programs and new relationships
with centers of excellence in the social science community.
The development of ISSE has been under way for some time, driven
by an increasing recognition that atmospheric processes—such
as airborne dispersal of pollutants, extreme weather events, and
long-term climate change—need to be examined in the context
of other environmental and societal stresses to fully understand
their impacts and interactions. Addressing this challenge requires
the creative integration of physical and social science methods and
approaches. Moreover, bringing interdisciplinary science to bear
on societal issues requires new approaches for understanding the
context in which information is used, and forging feedbacks to the
conduct of research itself.
ESIG director Robert Harriss is overseeing the creation of ISSE while
NCAR searches for a director of the new institute. "ISSE will
become an integrative force across the newly reorganized NCAR, and
hopefully contribute to a transformation of the science-society interface," says
• Also on the drawing board, The Institute for Multidisciplinary
Earth Studies (TIMES) would provide leadership and promote interactions
so that new and current initiatives associated with multidisciplinary
earth studies (including biogeosciences, wildland fire, and the water
cycle) can be fostered and integrated.
The reorganization will be phased in over a period of about 12 to
18 months, beginning in June. "We’re going to do this very carefully," says
NCAR deputy director Larry Winter. "This is an
opportunity to make our organization more efficient, as well as more focused
on major scientific themes."
• David Hosansky and Bob Henson
|The new laboratories
NCAR's five new laboratories
are organized in a thematic way to align with the center’s
mission. Each laboratory will have primary, but not exclusive,
responsibility for a specific aspect of NCAR's mission;
all laboratories will participate in every mission area to
some degree. Below are the five laboratories, along with the
current NCAR divisions and activities (in blue) and newly formed
or proposed institutes (in green) that each will incorporate.
NCAR will continue to seed cutting-edge work through its strategic
Advanced Studies Education and Training—Support and
enhance NCAR's role in atmospheric and related
Advanced Study Program, including new graduate research fellowships
Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment, which will build on
long-standing ESIG to create a broader program
Weather, and Climate Laboratory—Plan, organize,
and conduct atmospheric and related research programs in
collaboration with universities and other institutions
Atmospheric Chemistry Division
Climate and Global Dynamics Division
High Altitude Observatory
Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division
Observing Laboratory and Computational
and Information Systems Laboratory—Provide state-of-the-art research
tools and facilities to the atmospheric sciences community
Atmospheric Technology Division
Scientific Computing Division
Institute for Mathematics Applied to the Geosciences
Scientific Applications Laboratory—Transfer
technology to both the public and private sectors
Research Applications Program
Development Testbed Center
The Institute for Multidisciplinary Earth Studies