This plan is organized around a set of imperatives and frontiers for NCAR. The imperatives are the activities that NCAR must carry out to fulfill our role as a national center for the atmospheric and related sciences. They are based on our mission and our role in the atmospheric sciences community as it has evolved over nearly 50 years. All of the imperatives are top priorities, and we would maintain some level of effort in each even in the face of budget stress. Section IV of this document describes each imperative, followed by a set of action items, or specific activities for that imperative, in rough priority order. It is important to recognize that the action items are all deemed very important (and taken together they represent a subset of NCAR's overall suite of activities).
The frontiers are areas where we have identified opportunities to build out from and across existing efforts. The frontiers stress challenges associated with significant emerging societal needs. NCAR and the atmospheric sciences community can play a significant enabling role in advancing these frontiers by creating new partnerships; working to cross disciplines; and by providing an improved foundation to address issues associated with water, ecosystems, renewable energy and to connect to diverse stakeholders. Frontiers are extensions of NCAR work that require increased support to be fully and rapidly implemented. The five frontiers in the plan were derived from a much longer list of potential extensions suggested by NCAR scientists, divisions, institutes, and laboratories. They are in priority order. Progress in frontier areas is dependent on continued strength in the imperatives. Unlike with imperatives, budget stress could result in deferral of frontier activities.
Prioritizing the frontiers and the action items under imperatives involved multiple iterations between the NCAR strategic planning council and NCAR senior managers. All suggested activities and frontiers had to meet thresholds of feasibility, affordability, and appropriateness to NCAR's role as a national center. The suggestions that met those criteria were then evaluated according to
The priority rankings that resulted from this process are better thought of as a rough guide than a rigid template. Actual year-by-year funding decisions will be influenced by opportunities for cooperation and leverage, availability of funds vs. projected costs, and other factors. A lower-priority, lower-cost item might be funded in a given year if sufficient funds are not available for a more expensive, higher-priority item. Nevertheless, the order of action items and frontiers provides a good indicator of where NCAR would invest additional funding.