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Spring 1999

Colloquium hopes to fire interest in ice

Planning is well under way for the Advanced Study Program's 1999 summer colloquium, Ice Formation in the Atmosphere. Organizers Charles Knight (NCAR Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division) and Al Cooper (ASP director) hope the event, scheduled for 15-26 June, will help revive an interest in "icy cloud physics," as Knight calls it.

"This is a largely neglected area that we realized needs more attention," says Cooper. "It was a major focus of cloud physics in the past, but as weather modification fell out of fashion, the interest went away." For the last decade, little work has been done in the area, although many questions remain unanswered. This stagnation has side effects. For example, the cloud microphysics parameterizations ("shorthand" methods of representing physical processes) in models used to be considered perfectly adequate, compared with some other areas. But now that scientists have fixed more urgent problems, the microphysics may not be realistic enough for today. New instruments have been developed that give better images of particles in clouds, which should provide the observations needed to advance scientists' understanding.

Judging from past experience, some of the 25-30 students chosen to attend the colloquium may be the ones making these advances. "We accept [students] based on how their interests match the area of study and how they will benefit from it," Cooper explains. The colloquium is aimed at graduate students, although a few postdoctoral fellows usually attend. Applicants come from universities all over the country and sometimes abroad. ASP supports the students by paying their airfare to and from Boulder, supplying dormitory-style housing, and offering a modest per diem; some unsupported students also attend.

During the colloquium, the students attend morning lectures given by eminent cloud physicists from NCAR and other institutions, with time for questions and interaction. For the rest of the day, Knight says, "We'll cook up some projects they can do more or less on their own and then report back at the end."

Knight is planning the workshop with help from MMM colleague James Dye, who has also been involved in organizing a community initiative, known as ICE, to study ice formation in clouds and related subjects. For further information on this endeavor, contact Dye at 303-497-8944 or dye@ucar.edu or visit the ICE Web site at the Web site.

Announcements for the colloquium have been sent to a number of universities. For information on how to apply, please contact Barbara Hansford at 303-497-1601 or barbm@ucar.edu.


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