NCAR Highlights

NCAR Highlights

For the latest news releases, as well as fact sheets on NCAR science, lists of experts in NCAR’s various research fields, multi-media (movies, visualizations, illustrations, and photos), and recent press clippings visit the NCAR & UCAR News Center.

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Feature Stories

Satellites are critical to many of the technological capabilities that global society has come to depend on. Global positioning systems provide essential navigation for land, sea, and air transportation, weather satellites collect data critical for predicting severe weather on Earth, and communications satellites broadcast television and radio transmissions into living rooms worldwide. However, society often takes satellite capability for granted.

Water is a precious commodity underpinning not only the U.S. economy, but also the quality of life here. The U.S. federal agencies managing the availability and distribution of this basic necessity face a variety of challenges every year in ensuring a high-quality, always-ready resource to meet public and private demands, and to manage highly changeable flood risks and drought responses around the nation.

Since the dawn of the Space Age in the 1950s, solar maxima have coincided with strong upticks in sunspot activity but the current cycle, Cycle 24, which was expected to peak in Spring of 2013, has been unusually quiet. Solar activity remained at a moderate level, making it one of the weakest cycles in the past 100 years, as evidenced by the low number of sunspots appearing on the Sun's surface. With fewer and smaller sunspots, weaker magnetic fields that are associated with the sunspots, and less outgoing (radiative) energy, many wonder what might be causing the Sun's quiescence.

Put into force in 1989, the Montreal Protocol (and its subsequent amendments) is an international treaty that protects the world’s ozone layer by reducing global emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). To understand the effects of this treaty and the response of the stratosphere to ODS reduction, Rolando Garcia, Douglas Kinnison, and Daniel Marsh, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), used the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) to assess the “World Avoided” through implementation of the Protocol.

Around the world, scientists are searching for answers to the big questions in atmospheric science. Enabling and advancing these research efforts, the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers state-of-the-art instruments and platforms to U.S.

Elevated pollution levels, combined with abundant vegetation uniquely affect the climate and air quality in the southeastern United States. While elsewhere in the nation and world, effects of climate change have resulted in increased average temperatures, the Southeast has experienced a cooling trend. Additionally, the U.S. Southeast tends to have air quality issues resulting from chemical reactions occurring between organic compounds emitted from vegetation (biogenic volatile organic carbons or BVOCs) and human-made pollution.

Many find the worry about exceeding a 2° Celsius (3.6°F) increase in global average temperature at best an abstract idea. Such a temperature increase seems minor – some might argue that a 2°C change may not even be noticeable on any given day. However, the impacts of a higher average temperature have far more discernable impacts to those living along U.S. coastlines where changes caused by rising sea levels resulting from warming climate have appreciable consequences.

Predicting the future is never easy, which is why future-oriented climate research considers multiple alternative scenarios. Since human activities have been influencing the climate, this means that scenarios must estimate how human behavior and societal dynamics might influence future climate change.

Scientists spent a day talking to Congressional staffers in late February about the impacts of climate change on the United States. Among these were National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientists, Mary Hayden and Rick Katz. Hayden and Katz, teamed with scientists from other organizations, had the opportunity to meet with legislators from a variety of states. Each team focused on the various national legislators’ state- and district-relevant climate issues.

Despite the large and growing number of Latinos in the United States, this population remains severely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math-related (STEM) professions – making up less than 5% of the nation’s STEM workforce.