Currents: UCAR Community News
View this email in your browser


MAY 2020


NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center

NCAR & UCAR are lending their computing might and networking systems to the COVID-19 fight.

The NCAR-operated Cheyenne supercomputer, a 5.34-petaflop machine that ranks among the world's 50 fastest, is now part of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. The machine will be available to scientists across the country who are working to glean insights into the novel coronavirus that has spread worldwide.

UCAR is supporting the COVID-19 Western States Pact, a commitment among the governors of California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Colorado to use a shared approach to reopening economic activity that is science-based and safeguards health outcomes. UCAR's support comes through its management and operation of the Front Range GigaPop, which provides ultra-broadband telecommunications networks and services for research and education.

Three UCAR Next Gen Fellows in Washington, DC
UCAR is now accepting applications for the fourth cohort of Next Generation Fellows. This two-year fellowship for graduate students offers three tracks: Earth System Science; Public Policy; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Applications and reference letters are due June 30.
Nominations are invited from the broad community for UCAR governance positions on the Board of Trustees, the President's Advisory Committee on University Relations (PACUR), the Membership Committee, and the Members Nominating Committee. Nominations will be accepted until June 30.
Artist's rendering of a brain as digital circuitry
NCAR's Artificial Intelligence for Earth System Science (AI4ESS) Summer School in June will now take place online. The weeklong interactive course will cover essential and cutting-edge topics in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning that are relevant to Earth system science problems. Registration is due by June 12 at 4 p.m. MDT.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is accepting nominations for people to serve on an ad hoc committee tasked with developing a strategy for the National Science Foundation that would advance a systems approach to studying the Earth. Nominations are due May 13.


FY21 budget and appropriations update:

In April, UCAR finished its efforts to brief the entire Colorado delegation and committees of jurisdiction on its fiscal year 2021 appropriations priorities, which had to be completed virtually due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The original House Appropriations Committee schedule of agency budget hearings in March and April -- which were to be followed immediately by markups of the first FY21 spending bills -- has been upended by the House adjourning in March. Since then, the House has only returned to draft and vote on emergency legislation and funding in response to the pandemic. As a result, the FY21 appropriations process is stalled and no agreement has yet emerged in the House that would allow such committee business to be conducted remotely.

The House Appropriations Committee leadership has, however, decided on top-line subcommittee allocations, which allows the subcommittees to begin drafting their bills. These numbers have not been released to the public at this time. The House’s previously planned return for “regular business” on May 4 also has been indefinitely delayed due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the region, so there is no new schedule for the resumption of hearings and markups.

COVID-19 impact on weather forecasts and climate research:

Science advocates and policymakers are becoming increasingly concerned about the impacts of the pandemic on climate research and weather forecasting due to the sharp decrease in trips made by planes and ships that carry climate and weather sensors as well as the broad travel restrictions affecting most fieldwork. According to the World Meteorological Organization, air traffic readings in the U.S. are down by 60%, and while operating flights are still sending data, the lost observations may decrease the accuracy of weather forecasts by 2% or more.  

Travel restrictions also have interrupted some normal maintenance and cleaning cycles of remote climate sensors and interrupted the downloading of information needed to maintain continuous datasets. Climate scientists are especially concerned about COVID-19’s impact on the ability of developing nations to prepare for extreme weather since weather data in these countries is primarily collected manually. However, federal climate science agencies are continuing to process daily grant payments to recipients without interruption during the pandemic and remain open to the possibility of extending grants where research has been disrupted by the pandemic.

World airline routemap, 2009

Federal government seeks input on Earth system predictability:

An interagency “fast track action Committee," stood up in February, is now collecting public input on what sorts of research and development activities could improve the predictability of the Earth system. The initiative follows from last year's White House research and development budget priorities memorandum, which directed agencies to prioritize efforts that “quantify Earth system predictability across multiple phenomena, time, and space scales,” as well as to evaluate “how measures of and limits to predictability, both theoretical and actual, can inform a wide array of stakeholders.”  

NASA has issued this “Request for Information” on behalf of the National Science and Technology Council, with responses due by May 15. The request pertains to the "practical needs" of an Earth system predictability research effort as well as the socioeconomic benefits that would result from it.

Continued COVID-19 impact on events:

COP26 logoThe United Nation’s COP26 climate change conference and summit was due to take place in November in the United Kingdom but has now been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, though a new date has not yet been announced. In Washington, D.C., the 45th Annual NOAA Fish Fry event has been moved from its traditional week in June to September 10, 2020. UCAR’s climate science and policy briefings on Capitol Hill have also been postponed, with plans being made to provide these events online if necessary.

Potential for stimulus spending package:

Separate from the FY21 budget, many members of Congress are interested in evaluating what additional federal spending or policy changes could help the U.S. economy recover in the short and long terms from blows of the pandemic. Colleges and universities are seeking significant extra financial support in any new package, as are states and municipalities, which are facing growing revenue holes caused by lower tax collections.

Various scientific societies specifically responded to a request for input from the House Science Committee on research needs that could be addressed in a future coronavirus relief package. Additional ideas for a “phase 4” bill have included a new highway bill to boost infrastructure spending and other investments similar to some of those included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

The $800+ billion ARRA included funding for modernizing federal infrastructure, additional National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health grants, as well as investments in numerous clean energy programs to help quickly put more people back to work after the financial crisis. However, given the even larger price tag of government spending so far in response to the pandemic, it may take some time to negotiate such a package given some strong opposition in the Senate to additional spending not directly needed for COVID-19 research, response, and mitigation.


POSTPONED: Workshop on Societally-Relevant Multi-Year Climate Predictions
March 31-April 2
Boulder, CO

POSTPONED: 24th Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic /Tropical Atlantic Variability Meeting (PIRATA-24/TAV)
April 20-22
Miami, FL

POSTPONED TO 2021: NASA 2nd Eddy Cross-Disciplinary Symposium: Sun, Earth, Planet, Space, Atmosphere and Ocean
June 8-12
Vail, CO
*Graduate student and postdoc funding applications due March 16. Poster and speaker abstracts due April 1. Registration deadline is May 22.

POSTPONED TO 2021: 2nd European Fully Coupled Atmospheric-Hydrological Modeling and WRF-Hydro® Users Workshop
June 15-19
Cosenza, Italy
*Applications due April 30

Check out more upcoming events in the
NCAR/UCAR Earth System Science Community Calendar


2 animations of possible Polarstern paths through the Arctic Ocean


Scientists at NCAR have used an ensemble of multiple climate model runs to simulate conditions along potential routes for the MOSAiC polar expedition, using today’s conditions in the “new Arctic.” The results suggest that thinner sea ice may carry the ship farther than would be expected compared to historical conditions and the sea ice around the ship may melt earlier than the 12-month goal. Of the 30 model runs analyzed in the new study, five (17%) showed melt-out in less than a year. 

Read more.

Installation of the ViSP instrument


Scientists at NCAR hope that using the Inouye Solar Telescope as a photon bucket will give them the opportunity to discover new signatures of polarization across the spectrum of visible light radiating from the Sun, which may have been too faint to find with previous smaller telescopes.

Read more.

Arctic sea ice


The Arctic Ocean is likely to have its first ice-free summer before 2050, according to an analysis of simulations from more than 40 different climate models. How frequently the sea ice vanishes in the summer depends on the rate of greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

Read more.

Satellite image of algae bloom


A team of researchers has developed a method that could enable scientists to accurately forecast ocean acidity up to five years in advance. This would enable fisheries and communities that depend on seafood negatively affected by ocean acidification to adapt to changing conditions in real time.

Read more.

Smog in Delhi


A new study, focusing on south Asia, shows that occurrences of extreme heat with extreme levels of particulate matter, a dangerous pollutant, can be expected to nearly triple by 2050 if emissions of greenhouse gas increase unabated.

Read more.


A new study concludes that some of the latest-generation climate models may be overly sensitive to carbon dioxide increases and therefore project future warming that is unrealistically high. The researchers say that projections from The Community Earth System Model 2 are not supported by geological evidence from a previous warming period roughly 50 million years ago. 

Read more.


Schematic of virtual NCAR tour


Since you can’t come visit the Mesa Lab during COVID-19 closures, the UCAR Center for Science Education is working to bring some cool NCAR science straight to your home

UCAR SciEd now offers an NCAR Mesa Lab Virtual Tour and two online Virtual Visits, with more are in development. These programs are geared toward youth in grades K-12. You’ll find suggested age ranges in each program description, but you can join any that look interesting, regardless of age.


Join UCAR OppsList

A community email group for exchanging timely information about  job openings, events, and other opportunities in the Earth system science community.
Forward to a colleague Forward to a colleague
Was this forwarded to you? Subscribe to this newsletter
Copyright ©UCAR 2019, All rights reserved. About our banner image: Visualization of present-day total water vapor as seen the Community Earth System Model (CESM), see NCAR VizLab animation for more information 

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.