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March 2005

Greg Holland, MMM’s new director

Greg Holland

MMM’s new director, Greg Holland, is almost as familiar with Colorado as with his native Australia. He completed his doctorate in atmospheric science at Colorado State University in 1983 and has since been a frequent visitor to NCAR. “The Front Range is almost home,” he says.

Greg has spent most of his career with Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre. He comes to NCAR from Aerosonde, a manufacturer of lightweight and long-range robotic aircraft.

At a retreat in February, Greg and others in MMM began crafting an update of MMM’s divisional plan, which Greg calls “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.” The new version focuses on fundamental research, applied topics (which will maintain MMM’s focus on improving weather prediction), and community service (such as support for the Weather Research and Forecasting community model, or WRF).

In a major new effort, MMM plans to nest WRF within a global climate model as part of a substantial program of investigating the way by which large-scale processes translate into local impacts and vice versa. MMM will also step up its research into air quality. In particular, it will focus on the interaction of pollutants with cloud formation and precipitation, as well as the dispersal of pollutants in the boundary layer and the mechanisms by which the atmosphere cleanses itself.

Greg’s own background in tropical meteorology will enrich studies of hurricane landfall and the heavy rains that often result inland. WRF has shown considerable promise for accurately resolving the fine-scale details of winds and precipitation in hurricanes. To advance such research, MMM plans to couple WRF with an ocean model to study ocean and atmospheric interactions during intense wind and rain conditions and potentially improve landfall predictions. Scientists also plan to assimilate radar data directly into WRF.

Most of these projects will involve extensive collaborations within and beyond NCAR. “We are very keen on the multidisciplinary component,” Greg says. “When we bring together good people from different backgrounds with different perspectives to work on a problem, it’s amazing how much better we can do.”

Greg, who started his new position in January, has a strong multidisciplinary background. After beginning his career as a mathematician, he focused primarily on tropical meteorology and severe weather at the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre. He also helped set up field facilities, and he established programs studying the coastal impacts of tropical cyclones.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Greg held several leadership positions at Aerosonde and played a key role in developing small unmanned aerial vehicles. • David Hosansky and Bob Henson

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