As a national center that provides service and leadership for the scientific community, NCAR must be a venue where new ideas, methods, tools, and practices are developed, gathered, evaluated, and shared. NCAR should serve as a hub for community interactions, collective definition of grand challenges, and development and implementation of collaborative research activities to address such challenges. To fulfill this role, NCAR has to maintain a world-class scientific workforce, a high standard of excellence, strong collaborations, and a broad spectrum of fundamental research that leads to new understandings, and more-focused programmatic research (such as described in the imperatives that follow). Programs that encourage innovation and creativity contribute to intellectual and programmatic renewal at NCAR and in the community and help build the foundations for continuing scientific advancement. To support this imperative, NCAR will
Climate change, weather extremes, atmospheric pollution, and space weather have significant societal, environmental, and economic costs. More accurate prediction can help reduce these costs by providing advance warning of dangerous conditions. But the development of effective long-term strategies to minimize damages is hampered by incomplete ability to attribute observed changes in the atmosphere and Earth system to specific causes and mechanisms. For instance, the precise mix of factors driving regional climate variability is not fully understood. There are also many unanswered questions about the relationships among atmospheric change and ecological, biological, and societal processes. Improved understanding of such relationships would, for example, enable us to better anticipate how continued climate change will affect water availability, agriculture, and urban development in the western United States or to project the rate of loss of biodiversity from the combination of climate change, degraded air quality, and land use change. Enhancing our ability to analyze and determine the causes of changes and their impacts will help ensure that mitigation and adaptation strategies are focused on the right problems.
NCAR, with its university partners, is well suited to address the twin challenges of prediction and attribution because of our broad strength in process studies, observational research, model development, and simulation, as well as our long experience in collaborative interdisciplinary research. NCAR's deep experience in modeling complex processes provides a strong foundation for accurately quantifying the uncertainty associated with predictions - an important component of making them more useful for decision making and informing policy. Over the next three to five years, we will
Over the next five to ten years, we expect to move from independent predictions of climate, weather, and air quality to more unified environmental predictions that include aspects of all three. Fundamental research conducted at universities, NCAR, and other scientific institutions will significantly improve our understanding of basic atmospheric, oceanic, biological, hydrological, solar, and ecological processes. New modeling systems will permit integrated analysis of the relationship among changes in atmospheric composition, climate, and weather. We also expect significant advances in understanding how such changes affect ocean acidity, plant and animal species, ecosystems, human health, and communities. This should enable the attribution of observed impacts to specific causes and lead to more detailed, accurate, and useful prediction of potential future impacts, thus underpinning development of effective adaptation and mitigation strategies.
NCAR has a proud and unique tradition of collaboration with scientists from universities, national laboratories, and other research organizations to create, maintain, and distribute "community" climate and weather models that integrate the best available expertise across institutions. This effort extends from continuous basic theoretical and observational research, which underpins model development and evaluation, to provision of user support services. NCAR emphasizes ongoing advancement and redefinition of the atmospheric model components, integration and maintenance of complete models, and user support, while partners often lead in the development of additional model components such as sea ice and oceans. Scientists all over the world rely on these openly available tools to perform their research. In return, they contribute to model evaluation and development. During the past 30 years, community modeling has become one of the most important services provided by NCAR to university researchers and other interested users, and it will continue to be one of our top priorities. Over the next three to five years, NCAR will work with its partners to
Over the next decade, NCAR will move towards unified atmospheric and Earth system modeling. We will continue the integration of chemical, upper atmosphere, climate, and weather modeling, with particular attention to land surface modeling and dynamical processes work across our weather and climate groups. We plan to push ahead rapidly with use and evaluation of a first-generation combination of WRF with CCSM, the Nested Regional Climate Model (NRCM), described in more detail in the climate frontier section below. We will enhance our efforts in integrated assessment modeling (IAM), focusing both on improving capabilities and better integrating IAM approaches and experimentation with larger-scale Earth system modeling. Over the longer term, we plan to create a new, unified atmospheric modeling system capable of accurate prediction on time scales from hours to decades that is useful for both weather and climate prediction. This system will provide the basis for an advanced community Earth System Model that will include representation of oceans, sea and land ice, land cover, the upper atmosphere, and a large number of biogeochemical and ecological processes. We foresee extensive collaborations with existing and new partners in these efforts.
NCAR plays a critical national role in the development and provision of effective, end-to-end cyberinfrastructure (CI) for the atmospheric and Earth sciences community. NCAR's robust, innovative, and accessible supercomputing and data services have made customized high-end resources available to thousands of scientists and students, supported the creation and ongoing improvement of world-class atmospheric models, and enabled numerous cutting-edge simulations.
This track record of leadership, service, and success will continue. We will marshal the necessary facilities, equipment, software, and numerical and intellectual capabilities to meet the ever-expanding scientific goals of the geosciences community. In particular, we anticipate a 20-fold increase in the atmospheric community's demand for cyber-resources by 2012-requiring a capability comparable to the NSF "Track-2" or "petascale" centers. To be effective, this Track-2 -scale supercomputer must also be connected to a balanced and customized set of data systems, including petabyte-scale high-performance file systems shared with advanced data analysis and visualization resources, all backed up by a hundred-petabyte mass storage system. The entire facility must be connected, via high-performance networking, to the nation's other leading CI facilities, particularly those centers operated by NSF and the Department of Energy. The power, space, and cooling requirements of this facility will certainly exceed the capabilities of the NCAR Mesa Laboratory. Constructing and beginning operation by 2012 of a new supercomputing facility capable of housing Track-2-scale systems is, therefore, NCAR's top priority. Over the next three to five years, NCAR will
Looking further ahead, higher wide-area-network bandwidth, more powerful computers, and specialized software are creating a grid that promises to provide simplified access to distributed high-performance computing resources. A grid strategy offers several potential benefits. By working together, geographically dispersed partners can scale up processing cycles to meet increasingly large scientific challenges. In addition, complementary expertise and resources can be combined across centers to tackle the complex and interdisciplinary challenges in computational science that are difficult or impossible for one center to address in isolation. These challenges include many computational problems in the geosciences, such as climate and earthquake modeling. Furthermore, the grid is part of a cluster of technologies forming a trend in high-end computing toward "cloud computing": system virtualization, center automation, service-oriented architectures, and distributed workflows. Keeping up with and even leading the evolution of these ideas is essential to the long-term health of the laboratory.
Observational science is central to NCAR, and helping to define and conduct field campaigns and observational experiments is one of the most important services NCAR provides to the broader scientific community. To fulfill this imperative, NCAR must maintain a robust and reliable set of deployable observing facilities (aircraft and ground-based) and seek opportunities to develop and upgrade observational technology and instruments. NCAR also maintains and operates stationary observing facilities such as those at Mauna Loa; participates in the definition, design, and development of satellite-based and balloon-based instrumentation; and provides access to extensive archives of observational data sets. All of these activities are dependent on NCAR's proven ability to attract and retain an experienced cadre of engineers, technicians, scientists, and logistics experts who provide world-class support for planning, development, and implementation. Over the next three to five years, NCAR will
If the observing systems that NCAR operates for the community are to remain at the state of the art, NCAR must also pursue long-term development projects with time scales of a decade or more. One such project is the Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory (COSMO), which will provide unprecedented insights into coronal structure, heating, and dynamics, as well as the activity responsible for space weather, through synoptic observations of coronal magnetic fields. The centerpiece of COSMO will be a meter-class coronagraph with instruments to measure the coronal magnetic field using the polarization of forbidden infrared emission lines. Supporting instruments will provide context, and the suite will eventually replace the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory, operated by NCAR for over 40 years.
Two other prominent efforts in the early planning stages are the next-generation airborne radar that will replace the ELDORA system and the next-generation system for wind profiling (see planning efforts described in the actions above). NCAR also has developed proposals for a remote-sensing suite of airborne instruments (the Community Airborne Platform Remote-Sensing Interdisciplinary Suite, or CAPRIS) and for a "virtual operations center" (VOC). CAPRIS will include development of several lidars and short-wavelength radar for airborne use, and the VOC will integrate advanced networking and communications capabilities with analysis and visualization tools for remote access and interaction with researchers and students during field experiments. Finally, we see many opportunities for continued participation in the development of space-borne instrumentation for observations of the Sun and Earth system.
These major efforts, along with continued development of smaller component instruments for community use, represent the long-term vision for observational capabilities.
It is central to NCAR's mission to transition research results into information, science-based applied technologies, and decision systems that protect life and property and benefit society. Conducting directed research that is relevant to societal needs, providing scientific information to support public and private sector decision making, and contributing to national and international scientific assessments are important responsibilities. We collaborate with university partners, other research organizations, and the private sector to carry out these activities. In addition, many governmental and private sector organizations (domestic and international) provide funding to create applications that are tailored to their needs. Over the next three to five years, NCAR will
Looking farther ahead, we will begin to apply integrated assessment modeling techniques traditionally used for climate studies to weather-scale problems and needs. Additionally we will begin to experiment with "interactive" science and technology transfer systems in which a decision maker or planner will be able to enter cyberspace, specify certain parameters that define the problem they are addressing, and get a nearly instant response consisting of explicit decision information, guidelines for developing a tailored decision system, or further references relevant to their inquiry.
A steady flow of talented new participants into the atmospheric and related sciences is essential for scientific progress on many of the most compelling problems facing society. NCAR is committed to fostering graduate and postgraduate research and education, providing opportunities for undergraduate participation in NCAR research, and promoting students' interest in the atmospheric and related sciences. As a national laboratory active in research, modeling, and observational activities, we can provide unique hands-on educational experiences and many opportunities for students, advisors, and early career scientists to collaborate with a wide variety of scientists and engineers. Over the next three to five years, NCAR will