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Science Briefing

-----The new face at the helm of the Climate and Global Dynamics Division is a familiar one. Maurice Blackmon, who became CGD director on 15 May, spent much of the 1970s and 1980s at NCAR.


Maurice Blackmon. (Photo by Curt Zukosky.)

Maurice comes to CGD after seven years as director of NOAA's Climate Diagnostics Center (formerly the Climate Research Division, Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory) in Boulder. He came to NCAR's Advanced Study Program as a senior postdoctoral fellow in 1974, followed by a term as chairman of ASP from 1976 to 1980. Then Maurice shifted gears--"I got involved in some research that was too exciting to let go of"--and spent the next seven years working in the Global Climate Modeling Group (which predates CGD) as one of the key players in the development of the first generation of NCAR's community climate model. He also participated in climate diagnostic studies on the El Nio/Southern Oscillation and other phenomena, which led to his NOAA post.

"I'm excited about coming back to NCAR," says Maurice. "One of the first tasks on my agenda is to get up to speed on the climate systems model (CSM). I think it'll be an essential NSF contribution to global change research, and I think NCAR has some unique contributions to make. I'm looking forward to working with people like Byron Boville, Bill Holland, and others."

Version 1 of the CSM, which eventually will be a fully integrated global model, will be developed through 1995 and frozen toward year's end. A workshop is planned in spring 1996 to introduce the model to the research community.

Outgoing CGD director Warren Washington plans to devote more time to research while continuing his extensive service work in the science community. Warren's nomination to the National Science Board was just approved by the U.S. Senate. In honor of his recent term as president of the American Meteorological Society, he received the Le Verrier medal from the Meteorological Society of France.

-----Another managerial move brings a veteran of the Atmospheric Technology Division to the Mesa Lab. Walt Dabberdt, manager of ATD's Surface and Sounding Systems Facility since its creation in 1987, succeeds Peter Gilman as NCAR associate director on 5 June.


Walt Dabberdt. (Photo by Bob Bumpas.)

Walt came to NCAR in 1985 after 15 years at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. (SRI was the Stanford Research Institute until it became independent from that university in the early 1970s.) He holds a doctorate in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Walt has served on a wide variety of panels and boards on topics ranging from air pollution to micrometeorology to meteorological instrumentation. "I'm used to a lot of meetings," he says.

Along with the administrative elements of his new position, he intends to "maintain an active, though reduced, research component. I'll be following Peter's lead on that. I'm also looking forward to broader personal and professional interactions with scientists at UCAR, NCAR, universities, and government agencies. It will be a challenge to help guide NCAR through these difficult times of restructuring within the federal government, but I think we may see some opportunities as well." In his role overseeing NCAR's Facilities Support Services, Information Support Services, and Budget and Planning Office, Walt says he is "committed to maintaining their high quality."

Peter, a senior scientist in the High Altitude Observatory, says he'll be spending the next few months "reintegrating into the HAO program, focusing mostly on modeling the interface between the solar convection zone and the interior. I'm also going to be reaching out to other divisions--through the Geophysical Turbulence Program, for instance--but my management days are over for a while." He looks forward to a fruitful year in solar research as initial data come in from two new observation programs: the Global Oscillations Network Group instruments (GONG) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). GONG and SOHO are observing sound waves on the solar surface from which properties of the interior can be inferred. "Both of these should provide new insights into the nature of the solar interior," says Peter.

-----The final scores are in, and UCAR forecasters once again performed well in the National Collegiate Weather Forecasting Contest for the academic year 1994-95. The contest involves forecasting high and low temperature and precipitation amounts each day for 13 cities in a round-robin format over 26 weeks. Over 600 students, faculty and staff from 30 universities and laboratories across the United States and Canada participated in this year's contest. The contest is sponsored by Pennsylvania State University, the American Meteorological Society, and Accu-Weather.

Chris Snyder (Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division) was the top-ranking NCAR forecaster, placing seventh in the country overall. MMM's Chris Davis came in eighth place and Ed Szoke (also of MMM) finished in 16th place. All three finished ahead of the consensus forecast derived from the average of all participating forecasters. Typically, fewer than ten percent of forecasters can consistently improve on consensus forecasts.

In the individual city contests, two UCAR forecasters also turned out on top. They were Morris Weisman (MMM) for Roanoke, Virginia, and Bob Henson (UCAR Communications) for Seattle, Washington.

Next year's contest will begin in September and is open to anyone affiliated with NCAR and UCAR facilities in Boulder. According to contest organizer Peter Neilley (Research Applications Program), "We encourage anyone interested in forecasting to participate, regardless of skill or experience, as the principal purpose of the contest is educational. Chris Snyder is a great example--he began forecasting just last year and has now established himself as one of the nation's best forecasters." Anyone interested in participating should contact Peter at neilley@ucar.edu.


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Last revised: Wed Mar 29 15:37:06 MST 2000