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January 2001

The Outstanding Performance Awards

The winners

Outstanding Publication: Roy Rasmussen, Jothiram Vivekanandan, and Jeff Cole (RAP)

Education: Karon Kelly (DLESE)

Scientific and Technical Accomplishment: Jon Lutz, Brian Lewis, Michl Howard, Paul Johnson, Mitch Randall, Eric Loew, Bob Rilling, Dick Oye, Mike Strong, Al Phinney, Joe Vinson, and Bart Woodiel (ATD)

Administration: Steve Hinson, Vance Howard, Karl Werner, Karla Edwards, Rich Johnson, Kristian Woyna, Kevin Welsh, Shelley Richards- Craig, and Barb Bunting (F&A)

The UCAR/NCAR tradition of celebrating the holidays while recognizing our peers' work continued on 8 December with the all-staff party at the Mesa Lab, sponsored by the Employee Activities Committee. A total of 16 nominations were received for this year's Outstanding Performance Awards. Following entertainment from the Heatherwood Elementary Hot Shots choir and the UCARolers (see "Just One Look"), the winners (see box on this page) were announced. Below is the full list of nominations. More background on the nomination and award process can be found on the Web.

Outstanding Publication

Given for published results of original research, review papers, pedagogically oriented books, or other contributions to atmospheric science, broadly defined; or works that connect atmospheric science with other disciplines or with matters of public policy.

  • Dave Charbonneau and Tim Brown (HAO), David Latham (Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), and Michel Mayor (Observatory of Geneva, Switzerland), "Detection of planetary transits across a Sun-like star," Astrophysical Journal 529, L45-L48. This paper is the first to report successful detection of an extrasolar planet by photometric means. Other efforts over the past five years to detect planets outside our solar system relied on measuring slight variations in the star's radial velocity induced by a planet. The authors used high-precision photometry to observe the 1–2% reduction in brightness as a star's planet moved between it and Earth. Their work has already had a profound impact on astronomical research, especially remarkable given that their photometric data came from a relatively small, low-cost telescope.

    Karon Kelly (center) received the Education award. From left to right are UCAR vice president for corporate affairs Jack Fellows, NCAR director Tim Killeen, Karon, UCAR vice president for finance and administration Katy Schmoll, and UCAR president Rick Anthes.

  • Tom Hamill (ASP/MMM) and Chris Snyder (MMM), "A hybrid ensemble Kalman filter–3D variational analysis scheme," Monthly Weather Review 128, 2905-2919. This paper brings together three approaches to assimilating data into computer models while minimizing both the costs of computation and any observational errors. The two most common approaches, the ensemble Kalman filter and the 3D variational analysis technique, have particular strengths and weaknesses. Using a simplified model, the authors discovered that a blend of these two approaches led to significant reductions in error for model ensembles.

  • Didier Hauglustaine, Sasha Madronich, Brian Ridley, Jim Walega, Fred Eisele, David Tanner, Siri Flocke, Paul Ginoux, Rick Shetter, Chris Cantrell, and Elliot Atlas (ACD), "Observed and model-calculated photostationary state at Mauna Loa Observatory during MLOPEX2," Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) 101, 14681–14696, and "Photochemistry and budget of ozone during the Mauna Loa Observatory Photochemistry Experiment (MLOPEX2)," JGR 104, 30275–30307. Based on data from the Hawaii-based MLOPEX2 campaign, these papers explore the behavior of free radicals and the ozone budget for this important region. Unmeasured oxidants of nitrogen monoxide appear to be present; the ozone budget was found to be nearly in balance. A computer model keyed to local processes unrelated to transport showed both remarkable agreement and notable disagreement with the observed data, especially in free-radical values. The papers put forth possible explanations for the disagreements and point the way toward future research.

    Roy Rasmussen (second from left), one of three recipients of the Outstanding Publication award, is joined by (left to right) Tim Killeen, Jack Fellows, Katy Schmoll, and Rick Anthes. Not pictured are Jothiram Vivekenandan and Jeff Cole.

  • Roy Rasmussen, Jothiram Vivekanandan, and Jeff Cole (RAP), "Common snowfall conditions associated with aircraft takeoff accidents," Journal of Aircraft 37, 110-116, and "The estimation of snowfall rate using visibility," Journal of Applied Meteorology 38, 1542–1563. A combination of five years of fundamental research and practical application went into these papers, which analyze a series of aircraft accidents that involved inadequate deicing. The authors found that the standard relationship between snowfall intensity and visibility that is used by many weather services can be misleading, because of variations in snow type and differences in how visibility is affected by snowfall during the day versus the night. Because of this work, airlines have improved the procedures they use to estimate snowfall rates.

  • Stan Trier, Chris Davis, John Tuttle, and Bill Skamarock (MMM), "Long-lived mesoconvective vortices and their environment: Part I: Observations from the central United States during the 1998 warm season," Monthly Weather Review (MWR) 128, 3376–3395, and "Part II: Induced thermodynamic destabilization in idealized simulations," MWR 128, 3396–3412. This synthesis of observations and carefully designed model experiments shows the importance of mesoscale convective vortices (MCVs) and related vertical motions in stimulating multiday sequences of convection. Using 1998 data, the papers show that MCVs occur almost ten times more often than previously thought (a result confirmed in 1999 and 2000) and that about half of them serve as a focus of showers and thunderstorms that redevelop after previous activity has subsided.

  • Tammy Weckwerth (ATD), as first author of a series of three papers: "Thermodynamic variability within the convective boundary layer due to horizontal convective rolls," Monthly Weather Review (MWR) 124, 769–784; "Horizontal convective rolls: determining the environmental conditions supporting their existence and characteristics," MWR 125, 505–526; and "An observational study of horizontal convective rolls," MWR 127, 2160–2179. Due partially to a lack of observations, previous studies had disagreed on the magnitude of two variables important for creating convective rolls: the amount of sensible heat from the surface and the amount of vertical wind shear. These papers address the problem through a radar- based identification scheme, computer modeling, and a comprehensive data set acquired through a unique mix of platforms. Among other things, the results show that convective rolls are the first mode of organized convection in the boundary layer and that radiosondes launched outside the updraft portion of a convective roll may underestimate the risk of thunderstorm development.

    The time-card automation team received the Administration award. Pictured are (front row, left to right) Barb Bunting, Shelley Richards- Craig, Steve Hinson, Karla Edwards; (middle row) Vance Howard, Katy Schmoll, Kristian Woyna, Karl Werner; (back row) Rick Anthes, Jack Fellows, Tim Killeen. Not pictured: Rich Johnson and Kevin Welsh.

    Administration

    Given for efforts that substantially improve UCAR's ability to manage its affairs. Activities in this category might include efficiencies in managing information, improved processes within or interactions among UCAR entities or with funding agencies, or enhanced services or support to UCAR employees.

  • Steve Hinson, Vance Howard, Karl Werner, Karla Edwards, Rich Johnson, Kristian Woyna, Kevin Welsh, Shelley Richards-Craig, and Barb Bunting (F&A), for creating and implementing the automated time-card reporting system, which streamlined the former paper-based system and improved its accuracy and efficiency. The nominees' diligent efforts produced a system that surpassed its goals, with feedback from employees that is overwhelmingly positive. The system also establishes the framework for future automation projects at UCAR.

  • Gina Taberski and Anita Monk-Ryan (F&A) and Belinda Housewright (SCD), for their work in building the Front Range GigaPOP consortium (which provides wide-area networking services) and establishing UCAR and NCAR roles in engineering and administrative support for the consortium. Setting up the agreements, financial spreadsheets, and accounting system required extensive time, commitment, and expertise. The nominees continue to provide exceptional service as new members join the consortium.

    Education and Outreach

    Given for efforts having a significant impact on, and leading to improvements in, scientific, mathematical, or technical education, or other efforts that significantly enhance the public's understanding of scientific or technical issues. These activities may involve postgraduate, graduate, undergraduate, K–12, or general-public education.

  • Guy Brasseur, John Orlando, and Geoff Tyndall, along with other participants from ACD, for their work in editing and preparing the contributions of over 60 coauthors, contributors, and essayists to Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change. This 650-page textbook is distinguished by its thorough treatment of atmospheric dynamics and numerical modeling and its extensive use of field data to illustrate principles covered in the book. The intensive efforts of the editors, along with their coauthors and contributors (about 80% of them from ACD), resulted in an indispensible reference book and teaching aid.

  • Steve Cohn (ATD), for his exceptional efforts to advance graduate and undergraduate education through the use of observing systems and data in a series of field projects. Many students have little or no opportunity to become familiar with atmospheric instruments. Through lectures, informal coaching, and demonstrations, Steve gave graduate and undergraduate students extensive exposure to the Integrated Sounding System during its deployment at field projects in Nevada and Michigan. Steve has also played a key role in other education initiatives, including a set of education modules that use meteorology to introduce elementary students to science and math concepts.

  • Karon Kelly (DLESE), for her leadership and extraordinary service in initiating and sustaining K–12 and public science education efforts. As director of ISS between 1985 and 2000, Karon launched and oversaw many UCAR and NCAR education initiatives. These include the expansion and coordination of the Mesa Lab's tour and exhibit programs, the traveling Thunderstorm Detectives exhibit, on-site programs aimed at local schoolchildren, and Project LEARN (Laboratory Experience in Atmospheric Science at NCAR). LEARN has provided training, techniques, and hands-on science experience to middle and junior high school teachers from Colorado and around the country.

  • Morris Weisman (MMM), for his outstanding contributions in transferring results from convective storm research to forecasters, researchers, and students. Morris has provided over a person-year of effort as the key scientific contributor to four COMET modules and has taught in a number of COMET courses, as well as at the Universities of Oklahoma and Washington. Morris frequently provides his expertise to the news media after damaging storms, and he presented testimony to Congress following the May 1999 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma.

    ATD's S-Pol group was recognized with the Scientific and Technical Accomplishment award: (front row, left to right) Al Phinney, Bart Woodiel, Bob Rilling, Brian Lewis, Eric Loew; (back row, left to right) Tim Killeen, Jack Fellows, Michl Howard, Katy Schmoll, and Rick Anthes. Not pictured are Jon Lutz, Paul Johnson, Mitch Randall, Dick Oye, Mike Strong, and Joe Vinson.

    Scientific and Technical Accomplishment

    Given for efforts leading to substantial improvements in scientific and/or technical capabilities, including advances in hardware or software engineering, computer science, and applied science. Accomplishments in this category might, but do not necessarily, result in a scientific or technical publication.

  • Jon Lutz, Brian Lewis, Michl Howard, Paul Johnson, Mitch Randall, Eric Loew, Bob Rilling, Dick Oye, Mike Strong, Al Phinney, Joe Vinson, and Bart Woodiel (ATD), for development of the S-Pol weather radar, which combines the highest-quality radar measurements, high portability at low cost, and an unprecedented number of real-time products. Before S-Pol, only two S-band polarimetric radars were available to the research community, both of them costly to deploy. S-Pol's easy portability has allowed it to serve seven field projects on three continents in the last four years. The radar's improved precipitation measurements allow 15 different types of rain, snow, and ice to be identified in real time and distinguished from birds, insects, and other nonmeteorological signals.

  • Peter Neilley, Bill Myers, Missy Petty, Gerry Wiener, Greg Thompson, Shel Dalton, and Greg Young (RAP), for development of the Dynamic, Integrated Forecast (DICast) system, which provides automated weather forecasts for a broad variety of applications around the world. Through a number of commercial vendors across the Internet, DICast satisfies an estimated 50 million forecast requests each day. The system integrates a variety of forecast tools, including National Weather Service statistical output, to provide site- and time-specific forecasts of exceptional accuracy.

  • Rick Shetter, Barry Lefer, Sam Hall, and Luca Cinquini (ACD), for development of the actinic flux spectroradiometer. Actinic flux is a fundamental variable in tropospheric chemistry, since it allows photolysis rate coefficients to be calculated. The new instrument, a result of engineering ingenuity and substantial computer programming, has been deployed in several NASA, NOAA, and NSF field projects as well as in a ground-based intercomparison. It has fostered a breakthrough in photolysis rate information, particularly from aircraft.

  • Jim Van Dyke (SCD), for his leadership role in the Boulder-area Research and Administrative Network (BRAN). Created through a local consortium of government, university, and research members, BRAN provides an advanced fiber-optic infrastructure linking the partners. The 11-mile cable corridor has led to substantial improvements in the scientific and technical capabilities of NCAR/UCAR and the Boulder research community. Jim carried out a variety of complex tasks for BRAN, including project planning and technical engineering, in the midst of leading many other high-priority projects. •


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