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Science Briefing

-----The High Altitude Observatory has a new director. Michael Knölker, a senior scientist at the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics in Germany, began his term as HAO director on 1 April. Michael is no stranger to NCAR; he is an affiliate scientist and has made a number of visits to speak and engage in collaborative research with HAO scientists. These visits included a year, from September 1987 to August 1988, working on solar magnetic structures.


Michael Knölker. (Photo by Bob Bumpas.)

Michael received his diploma in physics from the University of Göttingen in 1978 and his doctorate, again in physics, from the University of Freiburg in 1983. Before taking the post at the Kiepenheuer Institute, he was an assistant professor at the University of Göttingen.

Though administration will take up a lot of his time, Michael also hopes to continue his research. He has two main areas of interest: numerical simulation of intense magnetic flux tubes in the solar atmosphere, and the observational consequences of such modeling. "So I've been involved in both sides, theoretical simulation and observation." Flux tubes, he explains, are "the key ingredient of solar magnetic activity; 90% of the magnetic field visible at the solar surface is concentrated in these very intense structures. Because they are elongated, we call them tubes."

Michael's "first assessment" is that HAO is on a very good track in terms of research directions. "My thoughts mainly are to do some simple additions to things being done here."

He succeeds Tom Holzer, who held the post for five years. Tom is returning to research, working primarily in the terrestrial interactions area of HAO, "which is a bit of a change because I was in the solar area before. I'll also be taking a couple of mini-sabbaticals over the next year." These will include a visit to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, to give some lectures and do research with another former HAO director, Bob MacQueen. Later on, he plans to travel to Norway, to work with Egil Leer at the University of Oslo's Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. Asked for reflections on his tenure as HAO director, Tom says he enjoyed the "wonderful opportunity to work with people I might not have otherwise. That's been the really nice part of the job."

-----More than 30 forecasters and researchers from across the country came to NCAR's Foothills Lab last month to learn about using data from the latest generation of weather satellites. A symposium on the use of GOES-8 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) data was held at the training laboratory of the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) on March 6-13. The course focused on the new information available to the meteorological community from the three-axis stabilized GOES-8 satellite. Launched in April 1994, the satellite is providing new levels of detail in its depictions every 15 minutes of cloudiness and water vapor across the United States and adjacent oceans.

"Even though it was the largest class to date in the COMET facility, the symposium was a major success," says Tony Mostek, manager of satellite training for the National Weather Service (NWS) and coordinator of the symposium. "The students were enthusiastic and will quickly integrate what they learned into their forecast operations." Feedback from students in the course will be used by the NWS to help assess the utility of the new GOES-8 data in its modernized warning and forecast process and to help plan for more satellite courses.

-----D. James Baker, under secretary for oceans and atmosphere for the U.S. Department of Commerce and administrator of NOAA, paid a visit to NCAR and other Boulder laboratories late in March. Baker took part in an aviation weather briefing upon his arrival at Denver International Airport on Tuesday, 21 March, then visited a number of NOAA sites and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on Wednesday. A dinner for the city's science community that night included Baker, Boulder mayor Leslie Durgin, CU chancellor Roderick Park, Daily Camera publisher Barrie Hartman, and officials from Boulder scientific laboratories, including NCAR director Bob Serafin and UCAR president Rick Anthes. Rick and Bob hosted a breakfast for Baker on Thursday morning at the Foothills Lab, followed by a visit to the COMET classroom and the Aviation Weather Development Laboratory of the Research Applications Division.


D. James Baker (center) joined Bob Serafin and Rick Anthes for a morning at the Foothills Lab on 23 March. (Photo by Curt Zukosky.)


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Last revised: Wed Mar 29 15:34:13 MST 2000