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One Planet, One Atmosphere
  • One Planet, One Atmosphere: timeline
  • In their own words: Susan Solomon
  • 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

    Susan Solomon is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aeronomy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the French and European Academies of Sciences, a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union and has received numerous awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science. (Photo by Carlye Calvin, courtesy NOAA)

    As a young student of chemistry in the late 1970s, I became intrigued with the notion that chemistry could be explored on a planet instead of in a test tube. UCAR and NCAR played a key role in realizing that dream. In 1977 I received a UCAR student fellowship, which led me to work at NCAR that summer (before I began graduate school in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley). I was firmly hooked on atmospheric science as a career after a few months studying under the inspired tutelage of Paul Crutzen (then director of NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Division, or ACD), Jack Fishman (then a postdoc with Crutzen), and Ray Roble (NCAR senior scientist, now at the High Altitude Observatory). I returned to NCAR to do my dissertation under the NCAR graduate assistant program during 1979–81. I am one of many former students whose opportunities to interact with UCAR and NCAR provided excitement, stimulation, and truly unique educational opportunities.

    While at NCAR, I began working with Rolando Garcia to develop a coupled, two-dimensional chemical-dynamical model of the stratosphere and mesosphere. It was really Rolando's innovative insights about dynamics that led our model to be a little ahead of its time. He implemented a residual Eulerian approach that quickly led us to a better physical understanding of how transport moves trace chemicals such as stratospheric methane and ozone around. When the ozone hole was discovered in 1985, we were fortunate in having such a good model to examine possible explanations for its mysterious occurrence. We fingered heterogenous chemistry (in particular, the reaction of hydrochloric acid with chlorine nitrate) as the likely cause. This turned out to be a good guess.

    We've subsequently combined our dynamical and chemical knowledge to look at the effects of volcanic eruptions on ozone depletion, at gravity waves and mesospheric species, and at a number of other intriguing chemical-dynamical problems. Without the collaborative spirit and special expertise of ACD and NCAR as a whole, none of this could have happened.

    In the mid-1980s, I was also privileged to begin to interact with Jeff Kiehl of the Climate and Global Dynamics Division. Jeff has been the father of radiative transfer codes, generously giving away to many dozens of researchers worldwide. Besides working with Jeff in putting a better treatment of radiation into our two-dimensional stratospheric model, I've been one of many researchers now benefiting from his and others' work on the three-dimensional Community Climate System Model. As they did with the Community Climate Model, research and support personnel at NCAR are playing a critical role in making this state-of- the-art coupled climate model available to others. Only at NCAR could such diverse talents be brought together (including strong university involvement) to produce such a powerful tool and to provide its considerable horsepower to a broad community.

    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