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.

Press inquiries? Contact the Media Office.

Feature Stories

Bi-annually, the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia awards five prizes in recognition of scientists, inventors, and research organizations around the world working in water related fields. The Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) acknowledges exceptional and innovative work that contributes to the sustainable availability of potable water and alleviation of the escalating global problem of water scarcity.

An undergraduate academic experience is designed to provide the essential educational elements that set the stage for the next step in a student’s professional or educational life. Equally important in this process are the mentors and experiences encountered during a student’s college career. Recognizing the benefits of future scientists participating directly in scientific projects, the National Science Foundation funds a number of university-led research programs, called Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

NCAR’s Jeff Kiehl (NESL/CGD) is the recipient of the 2012 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Climate Communication Prize. Established in 2011, this Union Prize highlights the importance of promoting scientific literacy, clarity of message, and efforts to foster respect and understanding of science-based values as they relate to the implications of climate change.

Climate and weather are inextricably linked. Weather happens on the scales of minutes to weeks, while climate characteristics are the effects of weather averaged over the longer term – weeks to years or decades or more. Weather forecasting has evolved to be remarkably accurate, however forecasts created for periods beyond seven to 10 days get increasingly less reliable. To a large degree, prediction difficulties come down to deficiencies in the quality or quantity of observational data and computer modeling capabilities.

African Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, Hispanic Americans comprise 16%, and Native Americans 1%. However, PhDs awarded from U.S. universities do not mirror these numbers. Moreover, a recent study published in EOS indicates that minorities earned fewer than 4% of the all the PhDs granted in the geosciences.1 The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S.

Engineers and scientists in the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) received recognition for innovative dropsonde technology at the 2011 Colorado Governor's Award for High-Impact Research. In mid-November, Governor John Hickenlooper honored Terrence Hock and his group for their novel work on dropsonde technology. Over the past five years Hock and his team have led a series of developments that transformed dropsonde technology used worldwide and expanded its use to new dropsonde delivery systems.

Three new leaders have recently taken the helm at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The center has also gained a new president at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Science (UCAR), NCAR's managing body. All are well known to NCAR and its scientific community. They are Michael Thompson, associate director of the High Altitude Observatory (HAO), Vanda Grubišić, associate director of the Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL), Jim Hurrell of the NCAR Earth System Laboratory (NESL), and Thomas Bogdan who becomes UCAR president in January 2012.

Visiting NCAR to talk about collaboration, Solomon Bililign, a professor of physics at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT), left with a vision of creating an atmospheric science class. Bililign, director of NOAA's Interdisciplinary Scientific Environmental Technology (ISET) at NCAT, had several graduate students whose research would benefit from a course in atmospheric chemistry. While the university had hoped to hire an atmospheric scientist, limited funding hindered this goal.

Once international agreements demand it, effective, enforceable greenhouse gas reduction will require in-depth information on the fluxes and transports of these and other atmospheric constituents. Concentrations of aerosols like black carbon, and gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, ozone, and nitrous oxide (N2O) vary across the globe and by season. Until recently, a fine-grained picture of the concentrations and understanding of the dynamics of these atmospheric components did not exist.

Beyond providing Earth with its predominant source of heat and light, the Sun affects the planet and human society in a variety of other ways. For instance, effects from storms propagating from the solar corona outward through space, can affect aviation, electrical grids, and satellite performance on Earth, often impinging on daily societal function directly. Due to distance from the Earth and few observing instruments, solar storms cannot currently be predicted.