On average, the various data sources had temperature errors in the range of 1 degree C and errors in mixing ratio (water vapor concentration) of around one gram per kilogram (g/kg). The latter is roughly 10% of the water vapor present on a humid Colorado day. In the model's standard scenario, Andrew found that a temperature decrease of 1 degree C was enough to shut off storm development entirely, while a 1 degree C increase led to a fourfold increase in rainfall. Similarly, rainfall dropped by 80% when mixing ratios were lowered by the standard error of 1 g/kg, while it more than doubled for a 1 g/kg increase.
"Predicting thunderstorm initiation and motion is one of the most difficult problems facing operational weather forecasters," notes Andrew. "These results have begun to uncover part of the reason for this difficulty--thunderstorm development is very sensitive to variations in low-level temperature and moisture which are within typical observational variability."
Those who study atmospheric technology in community colleges will enjoy the latest in educational technology, thanks to a recently announced $450,000 grant to be awarded later this year to the Desert Research Institute (DRI) for development work with COMET's Educational Resources Center (ERC). The three-year grant from NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education will produce interactive CD-ROM modules to train college students in instrumentation, field project design, and measurement principles. Also included are workshops for community college faculty to help them integrate the modules with field measurement experience.
Established last fall, the COMET ERC is designed to help export the program's skills in multimedia education to new venues. "We are very proud of this achievement, the first--I hope--of many collaborative efforts with universities," says COMET director Tim Spangler. "We are glad the National Weather Service has had the vision to support the ERC and to see the value of university-NWS partnerships to improve our country's meteorological education."
Ray was cited by the NAS for his "indispensable contributions to understanding the effects of variable solar inputs on the earth's atmosphere and ionosphere by powerful global modeling techniques."
A native of Michigan, Roble completed his doctorate in aeronomy at the University of Michigan in 1969. Shortly afterward, he came to NCAR as a postdoctoral researcher and began work on the computer model that has since become his crowning achievement: the thermosphere-ionosphere-mesosphere-electrodynamics general circulation model (TIME-GCM). (See the January issue of Staff Notes Monthly, available on the Web at http://home.ucar.edu/ucargen/UCARnewstext.html, for details.) Ray became an NCAR senior scientist in 1978 and now heads the HAO Terrestrial Impacts of Solar Output section.
Was Ray surprised by the honor? "Completely! I now remember that Jack Eddy received the award about ten years ago, but I was not aware that it still existed. It is certainly an honor for me as well as for HAO, NCAR, and UCAR." He anticipates the prize will be used to promote and enhance solar/terrestrial research at NCAR.