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Measuring and Modeling
  • Measuring and Modeling: timeline
  • In their own words: Joachim Kuettner
  • In their own words: T.N. Krishnamurti
  • UCAR at 40
    Who We Are
    Introduction
    One Planet, One Atmosphere
    Between Sun and Earth
    Measuring and Modeling
    When Weather Matters Most
    Spreading the Word
    Knowledge for All
    Looking toward the Future
    UCAR at a Glance
    List of acronyms

    With over six decades of research experience in atmospheric science, Joachim Kuettner has held the UCAR Distinguished Chair for Atmospheric Science and International Research since 1994. Kuettner has led many national and international field projects; most recently, he headed the U.S. project office for the Mesoscale Alpine Project (MAP).

    Today the NSF/NCAR research aircraft roam the world in an ever- broadening series of field projects. In the last five years they have supported about 35 different research programs with increasingly sophisticated instrumentation, developed either in-house or by the on- board experimenters. There are not many atmospheric researchers who have not flown, at one time or another, on NSF/NCAR aircraft. They have learned that you don't really know Earth's atmosphere until you have experienced it personally in flight. For example, during the Monsoon Experiment (1979), the Electra penetrated the monsoon front over the Arabian Sea about two days before it reached India. Our colleagues from India on board, who had devoted a lifetime to monsoon studies, were almost delirious at seeing with their own eyes the inner structure of the phenomenon of their life's work.

    Forty years ago, the founders of UCAR and NCAR envisioned a series of field experiments conducted jointly by the university community and NCAR, using advanced observing facilities of proportions no department could afford. They specifically urged the creation of a comprehensive aviation facility devoted exclusively to basic research rather than—as was customary at that time—chartering available military aircraft on a temporary basis. What was not yet fully anticipated then was the expansion of this facility's use from a national to a truly international scope. This happened when all member countries of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) agreed to implement GARP, the Global Atmospheric Research Program. Its first field project, the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE) in 1974, was a huge undertaking involving almost 4,000 participants from 70 nations.

    NCAR played a vital role in this complex and difficult project. Among the many worries that I had as the WMO-appointed head of GATE was the daily deployment of the flexible observing systems, such as 13 aircraft, for a host of competing scientific objectives. Should the decision making be done in military fashion, by a "czar," or more democratically, by a mission-planning team? Could such a team act in the short time available—usually about one or two hours?

    Just at the right time, we received an invitation from NCAR to simulate the mission-planning process under scenarios, carefully prepared by Ed Zipser and Dan Rex, containing various kinds of tropical surprises. Some outstanding aviation-experienced scientists from the Soviet Union, France, Germany and the United Kingdom were involved in this splendid exercise. It resulted in the creation of a congenial and efficient mission-selection team that set the standard for practically every international experiment since.

    NCAR's young and enthusiastic GATE team (including Ed Zipser, Peggy LeMone, Bob Grossman, Bill Pennell, and others) cleared up the structure and life cycle of the mysterious, short-lived tropical cloud clusters. We had been puzzled by their huge size on satellite photos, their sudden appearance at apparently random spots over the tropical oceans, and their disappearance within about 12 hours. Through many research flights, the NCAR group discovered that these clusters were nurtured by squall lines that formed in certain phases of easterly waves, thus providing spurts of tropical heat transport.

    Field experiments continue to face a host of critical logistical and operational problems. These are ably handled by JOSS, the UCAR Joint Office for Science Support (under Karyn Sawyer, working with senior planner and operations director Dick Dirks). Through many years of experience, these experts have learned to operate throughout the world while taking care of speedy data processing and distribution during and after the field phase. Furthermore, in developing air- and ground-based instrumentation, NCAR has attained some pioneering achievements, as shown on the preceding pages. In almost 40 years of field experiments, it appears that UCAR and NCAR have just about fulfilled, if not exceeded, the visions and dreams of their founders.

    UCAR at 40
    Who We Are
    Introduction
    One Planet, One Atmosphere
    Between Sun and Earth
    Measuring and Modeling
    When Weather Matters Most
    Spreading the Word
    Knowledge for All
    Looking toward the Future
    UCAR at a Glance
    List of acronyms


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    Executive editor Lucy Warner, lwarner@ucar.edu
    Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
    Last revised: Fri Jan 26 17:18:32 MST 2001