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December 1999
January 2000


The Outstanding Performance Awards: 1999 Nominations

Award ceremony coverage
Outstanding Performance Awards home page

Here are the winners and nominees for each of the 1999 Outstanding Performance Awards. For photos and more coverage of the ceremony, please see the accompanying article.


Outstanding Publication

Hans De Sterck and Boon Chye Low (HAO) and Stefaan Poedts (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), "Complex magnetohydrodynamic bow shock topology in field-aligned low-beta flow around a perfectly conducting cylinder," Physics of Plasmas 5(11), 4015-4027. This paper significantly improves our understanding of the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) shock structures that form due to high-speed gas and magnetic field outflows from the sun impacting the interplanetary medium and the magnetospheres of the Earth and other planets. The phenomenon of high-speed MHD flow impinging on an obstacle has previously been poorly understood. Through an elegant combination of numerical simulations and ensuing analysis, the authors have brought new and surprising insight into this phenomenon, which occurs in many places in our solar system and, indeed, throughout the universe.

Also nominated:

William Collins, "A global signature of enhanced shortwave absorption by clouds," Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 103, 31,669-31,679. By employing all three elements of scientific researc--observations, theory, and modeling--this paper addresses a fundamental uncertainty: the amount of solar radiation absorbed and reflected throughout the atmosphere. Satellite data do not provide enough resolution to answer the question. With the help of previously unused spectral data on reflected solar radiation collected in the early 1980s from the Nimbus 7 satellite, this study showed that clouds across the globe absorb more radiation than expected. Simulations using the NCAR Community Climate Model and data from an Oklahoma field study both confirmed that the cloud absorption is more than previously thought. Although the mechanism for this effect remains unknown, this paper presents sound arguments for its presence and its global extent.

Michael Glantz, Currents of Change: El Niño's Impact on Climate and Society (Cambridge University Press, 1996). This overview of the El Niño„Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a major landmark in the effort to build bridges among fundamental atmospheric science, public policy, and the socioeconomics of weather and climate impacts. It is one of the first attempts to describe ENSO in a lucid, accurate manner for an interdisciplinary audience. A synthesis of two decades of research, it was produced with extensive guidance from physical and social scientists in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Translated into four languages, with a second edition in progress, Currents of Change is a blend of original thought, outstanding scholarship, and writing talent.

Wojciech Grabowski, Xiaoqing Wu, and Mitchell Moncrieff, "Cloud-Resolving Modeling of Tropical Cloud Systems during Phase III of GATE [the Global Atmospheric Research ProgramŠs Atlantic Tropical Experiment], Part I: Two-dimensional Experiments," Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences (JAS) 53, 3684-3709; "Part II: Effects of Resolution and the Third Spatial Dimension" (with William Hall, MMM), JAS 55, 3264-82; and "Part III: Effects of Cloud Microphysics," JAS 56, 2384-2402. This three-part paper is a major step in quantifying interactions among physical processes, convection, and the environment using field experiments to evaluate the results. Showers and thunderstorms affect many scales of motion in the tropics. These papers show for the first time that fine-scale, cloud-resolving numerical models can now be an integral part of observing and analysis on a larger scale. The cloud systems that result--dynamically consistent, high in resolution, and spanning an unprecedented range of scales--are being used at NCAR and elsewhere to develop physically based schemes for parameterizing convection within models.

William Randel and Fei Wu (NCAR), James Russell (Hampton University), and Joe Water (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), "Space-time patterns of trends in stratospheric constituents derived from UARS [Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite] measurements," Journal of Geophysical Research„Atmospheres 104, 3711-3727. This paper outlines several trends in stratopheric constituents measured by UARS instruments between 1991 and 1998. Each of the constituents showed significant linear trends over at least some region of the stratosphere, and spatial patterns indicated coupling among the species. Contrary to decadal-scale ozone trends of the last 20 years, ozone decreased in the tropical middle stratosphere during the imd-1990s and increased in the tropics near 25 kilometers (15 miles). Most surprising is the discovery that water vapor increased by 1 to 2% a year in most of the stratosphere above 25 km. As the first paper to outline many of these trends, this paper will have a major impact on stratospheric research.

James Wilson and Daniel Megenhardt, "Thunderstorm Initiation, Organization, and Lifetime Associated with Florida Boundary Layer Convergence Lines," Monthly Weather Review 125, 1508-25. Using 32 days of data from the Convection and Precipitaton/Electrification (CaPE) field project in Florida, this paper shows how the areaŠs longer-lived multicellular storms¦those more likely to cause serious damage¦are sustained. Analysis shows that the formation and duration of these storms is related to the vertical wind shear and storm motion relative to two recurring boundaries, the East Coast Sea Breeze Front and the West Coast Front. By calculating the boundary-relative cell motion, forecasters can use these findings to improve storm forecasts, including those issued by automated systems. This represents a fundamental advance in short-term storm forecasting, with the findings already being applied in New Mexico, Alabama, Virginia, and Australia.


Education and Outreach

Bev Lynds, for her outstanding contributions to science education, culminating in the creation of the Skymath teaching modules. Bev was a cornerstone of education and outreach within UCAR for nearly a decade. Skymath takes advantage of a student's natural interest in scientific discovery and uses this as a vehicle for fostering enthusiasm in mathematics. As a result of Bev's creativity, tremendous drive, and hard work, Skymath has been adopted in many classrooms nationally and internationally. Much of Bev's work was contributed on a volunteer basis while at UCAR, from her retirement as an astronomer through this year.

Also nominated:

Jimy Dudhia, Dave Gill, Yong-Run Guo, Kevin Manning, Wei Wang, and Sue Chen, for organizing and teaching the semiannual MM5 Model Tutorial Class. This class allows attendees with diverse backgrounds in atmospheric science to learn the basics of mesoscale modeling and gain hands-on experience directly applicable to their own research. Since 1992, over 400 participants have attended the MM5 tutorials, which have played a major role in the growth and success of the model. The tutorial team prepares a comprehensive set of lecture notes, available on the Web, and an extensive set of visual displays used during the tutorials. The nominees have expended a tremendous effort over and above their normal job responsibilities in designing and building test cases for each class, updating the Web interface, and addressing user questions during and after the tutorial.

Mickey Glantz for more than 20 years of work to bring a greater understanding of the El Niño„Southern Oscillation (ENSO) process to the general public and potential users of ENSO information. In the 1970s, Mickey recognized a lack of public information on ENSO. A world leader in addressing this gap, he has written numerous articles for lay magazines as well as the 1996 book Currents of Change: El NiñoŠs Impact of Climate and Society. Mickey has discussed ENSO in newspapers across the nation and has appeared on television in South America, Japan, Italy, Great Britain, and the United States. A long-time advocate for building bridges across disciplines, Mickey launched the popular Network Newsletter in 1995 and chaired a colloquium on ENSO for NCAR's Advanced Study Program in 1997. He has also organized more than 20 other workshops designed to bring together physical scientists with users of ENSO information. Deeply committed to mentoring the next generation of ENSO researchers, Mickey has served on numerous dissertation committees.

Tom Windham, for his work in chairing the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science program. In an effort to address the longstanding dearth of underrepresented groups in the atmospheric and related sciences, NSF and UCAR teamed in the mid-1990s to explore a new strategy. The SOARS program would bring promising undergraduates to UCAR each summer for several consecutive years, with a network of multiple mentors helping to orient each protégé to the world of graduate-level research. Tom's contributions have molded SOARS into a program that now enjoys national recognition. His efforts to build multi-institutional ties nearly doubled the funding for protégés in less than four years. The SOARS retention rate of 86% attests to the attractiveness of the program, the high quality of its protégés, and Tom's superb leadership.


Scientific and Technical Advancement

Greg Thompson, Paddy McCarthy, Frank Hage, and Shelly Knight (RAP) for the development of the Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS). ADDS is a Web-based information service (http://adds.awc-kc.noaa.gov) that makes sophisticated aviation weather products and associated flight-planning tools available to any on-line user. Through several modest grants, the system grew out of an ad-hoc Web site devoted to aviation weather. ADDS is now being used by major airlines, corporations, the armed services, and private aviators. The manager of meteorology for United Airlines said he could "not recall a more significant advance in the production and delivery of essential aviation products than ADDS."


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