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SCIENCE BRIEFING

NCAR has awarded a $5.5 million contract to California's Lockheed Martin Palo Alto Research Laboratories to complete the conceptual design of an instrument that will measure chemical compounds in the stratosphere. The high-resolution dynamics limb sounder (HIRDLS) is being designed by scientists in the Atmospheric Chemistry Division and at Oxford University.

The HIRDLS instrument will measure trace gases in the stratosphere and upper troposphere, says ACD's John Gille, principal U.S. investigator for HIRDLS. "This instrument is designed to look at the tropopause [the boundary between the region closest to the earth's surface and the stratosphere] and make measurements of gases on a smaller scale than has been possible before," John says. "For example, longitudinally, we were only able to observe every 25 degrees, or about every 2,800 kilometers at the equator. With the HIRDLS instrument, we will increase the resolution by a factor of six-to four degrees or 450 km-and see vertical variations on a scale as small as 1 km."

John Gille. (Photo by Curt Zukosky.)

Lockheed, now in the conceptual design phase of four U.S. subsystems, will also integrate and test the HIRDLS instruments in later phases while the United Kingdom provides other subsystems. The two institutions will share calibration tasks. The HIRDLS instrument is scheduled for flight aboard the third major launch of NASA's EOS (Earth Observing System) series of satellites in the year 2002. The working lifetime of the one-cubic-meter, 170-kilogram instrument is estimated at five to six years.




Continuing a long-standing tradition, another model developed at NCAR is being exported to researchers at large. From 5 to 16 June, members of MMM's Cloud-Scale Modeling Group held their third annual Clark Model Workshop, a key tool in extending the Clark mesoscale model's use beyond NCAR. Attendance at the workshop has grown from 12 in 1993 to 17 this year. Developed as a research tool by NCAR's Terry Clark and collaborators, the model includes interactive, nested domains (smaller regions that can feature higher resolution than the primary domain) and terrain-following coordinates that can include the effects of topography on air flow.

Attendees at the workshop came from U.S. and international universities and research organizations, other NCAR divisions, and MMM. They learned what the Clark model includes, how to run it, and how to apply it to their research area of interest. This year their research applications included hydrologic/atmospheric interactions, severe storms, weather modification, atmospheric chemistry, winter storms, tropical convection, airflow over complex terrain, cloud electrification, and the boundary layer.

The workshop functioned as a multidimensional exchange, according to coordinator Janice Coen (MMM). "We had lectures by MMM staff describing the code, talks by guests on the research topics to which they wanted to apply the model, and talks by the hosts-us-describing current or past projects in which the model was used." Much of the two-week workshop was spent in hands-on training with the model itself. "It's always hard to learn to use someone else's model," says Janice, "but this year's participants worked hard at it, had very positive attitudes, and did great."




A former UCAR president returned to the fold on 1 July. Bob White, who chaired the corporation from 1980 to 1983, is now serving as a senior fellow of UCAR out of Washington, D.C. Bob will assist in UCAR program formulation and provide senior-level advice on policy matters. He also will work on projects related to sustainable development. He retired this year as president of the National Academy of Engineering.

Bob White. (Photo courtesy National Academy of Engineering.)

Included in Bob's extensive and varied background are stints as chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau (predecessor of the National Weather Service) and as the first administrator of NOAA. His position as senior fellow will be on a nonsalaried basis with office and secretarial support provided by UCAR.



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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Last revised: Wed Mar 29 17:28:10 MST 2000