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December 2004 - January 2005

IMAGe comes into focus

Doug Nychka, organizer of the statistics program at NCAR, has been named the first director of the new Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe).

Doug Nychka.

“I’m excited about IMAGe,” Doug says. “It’s very significant for NCAR to form a group that is oriented around cross-cutting methods as opposed to being oriented around a scientific topic.”

IMAGe, one of the new institutes created by the NCAR reorganization, is charged with applying mathematical tools to address fundamental problems in the geosciences. It brings together NCAR’s Geophysical Turbulence Program, the Geophysical Statistics Project, and the Data Assimilation Initiative. At first, the institute will consist of about two dozen staffers. (For more about the NCAR reorganization, see the March 2004 issue of Staff Notes Monthly.)

Doug says one of his first priorities is to map out an annual mathematical program, or theme of the year (TOY), that addresses NCAR scientific goals and also engages the mathematics community. This spring, IMAGe will conduct a pilot TOY on data assimilation. Central to numerical weather forecasting, data assimilation uses statistical methods for combining numerical models with observed data. The TOY will also look at a more recent application: studying the behavior of the atmospheric component of a global coupled model by its forecasting ability.

For this project, IMAGe will collaborate with two mathematical centers: the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) at the University of California, Los Angeles; and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) in North Carolina.

In 2006, IMAGe will likely focus on the challenges of working with models that incorporate processes occurring on different spatial and temporal scales. It will collaborate with the Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathemathical Sciences.

Doug also hopes to launch informal working groups involving staffers from IMAGe as well as NCAR labs. Some topics would include comparing climate models of intermediate complexity to the historical record, adding stochastic (randomly forced) elements to geophysical models, and using wavelet methods to represent the varied small-scale components in large-scale fields.

A senior scientist who has led the Geophysical Statistics Project for seven years, Doug has a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He previously had been a professor at North Carolina State University.

•David Hosansky

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Also in this issue...

The 2004 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards

Prospecting for ice

Recollections from a pioneering woman scientist

Native American visitors

Turning off the juice

Delphi questions

Happy Holidays!

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