Currents: UCAR Community News
View this email in your browser


APRIL 2020
We recognize this email is reaching you at a turbulent and uncertain time when the spread of COVID-19 is posing unprecedented challenges to our personal and professional lives. We have included some resources this month that may be helpful as many of you navigate working and teaching from home. We invite you to also read the special edition of UCAR Currents we sent out last week if you haven't already. It highlights a wealth of resources aimed at distance learning as well as a message from UCAR President Antonio Busalacchi about UCAR's response to this crisis. 


NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) has a number of online resources that teachers, students, and the computationally curious can explore from home. These include HPC-TV, which allows you to get an inside look into one of the most powerful computing systems in the world, Cheyenne. 

CISL's Meteo AR and VR apps allow you to explore Earth science datasets on your smartphone or tablet using augmented or virtual reality

CISL also has a learning module to teach students how to run a weather model on a Raspberry Pi (a simple, credit card-sized computer) to generate a forecast. 

See all of CISL's resources.
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 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 are being accepted until June 30.
WRF-Hydro logo
NCAR's Research Applications Lab hosts a full training suite for the WRF-Hydro Modeling System online.
An online tutorial on best practices for using NCAR data storage systems will be held on April 22, and a tutorial for new users of NCAR high-performance computing and storage systems will be held on May 27. Details will be announced in the CISL Daily Bulletin.
The ongoing webinar series organized by AGU's Atmospheric Sciences Section, "From the Past Into the Future," will host speakers every Tuesday through April 21. Learn more and register


Congress acts to provide pandemic relief

The third and most recent coronavirus relief legislative package passed by Congress will provide over $2 trillion in funding, with most of the money going to employers, out-of-work employees, and states to deal with the economic slowdown caused by widespread business shutdowns. 

The legislation also includes funding to shore up coronavirus research efforts at an array of federal agencies, including $945 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and billions to other public health agencies, $100 million for supporting researcher access to the Department of Energy’s user facilities and computational resources, and $75 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research grants that will help “prevent, prepare for, and respond” to the novel coronavirus. It also provides resources and the authority to cover coronavirus-related disruptions to agency activities. For example, it enables agencies to reimburse contractors that pay employees who cannot work remotely.

The legislation is primarily focused on providing economic aid, which includes the creation of a $14 billion relief fund for universities. That amount is well short of what university associations requested, though Congress has already indicated it plans to pursue additional coronavirus relief legislation, likely in the next month or two, that may address these additional university needs, among others.

CDC coronavirus illustration

COVID-19 impacts on federal research and development

States and the federal government continue to take increasingly serious measures to detect, slow, and treat the spreading disease outbreak. More states across the U.S. implemented restrictions on nonessential activities last week, and another wave of federal facilities took actions to minimize onsite operations. 

As major research universities have shuttered and moved to online instruction, some university researchers are raising serious concerns about losing access to labs required to conduct sponsored work. There is uncertainty about whether or not exceptions will be made to allow that funding to continue despite these current access restrictions. Major academic conferences have also been canceled around the country, through summer and even into fall. As a result, scientists and their associations have increasingly experimented with virtual conferencing tools in a bid to salvage some of these meetings. 

NOAA nominee Neil Jacobs receives Senate hearing

On March 11 the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to review the president’s nomination of Neil Jacobs to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Jacobs has been serving as the acting administrator since last February. Jacobs stated that restoring U.S. leadership in weather forecasting is one of the top three challenges facing the agency and mentioned the concept of crowdsourcing forecast model development through an Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) as one of the ways to accomplish that goal. He faced more questions about fisheries management than weather or climate issues, although Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska had good questions about flooding in the Midwest and NOAA coordination with other federal and state agencies that monitor rainfall and other contributors to river flooding. A confirmation vote was originally anticipated in mid-April, but that date could change due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Sethuraman Panchanathan

NSF director nominee hearing and vote uncertain

This past week France Córdova stepped down as NSF director after six years at the helm, but due to the impact of coronavirus on congressional operations, her nominated successor, Sethuraman Panchanathan, a professor of computing and informatics at Arizona State University, is not yet able to take over. Panchanathan is already familiar with NSF’s inner workings through his service on the National Science Board, the agency’s 24-member governing board, to which President Obama appointed him in 2014. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which will review the nomination, had not announced a hearing date before all routine business was subsumed by the legislation to respond to coronavirus, and now there is uncertainty as to when they will return to Washington and be able to work through backlogs on things like agency nominations.

NOAA officially seeking bids for Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC)

NOAA has released its solicitation for bids to operate EPIC, which is intended to be a cornerstone of its new efforts to reclaim global leadership in weather forecasting. The agency anticipates making a single award by this fall, which would provide up to $45 million over five years to operate the center. Although the solicitation notes the workforce operating the center will likely be “largely virtual,” it adds that the contractor may be tasked with establishing a “physical point of presence” anywhere in the continental U.S. The House Science Committee has taken a strong interest in EPIC, and its chair and ranking member sent a joint letter to NOAA earlier this month urging that the request for proposals “result in a single award being issued to ensure EPIC is implemented in a unified manner that prevents fragmentation of the program.”  UCAR is presently closely reviewing this opportunity and undertaking numerous discussions with membership.


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

CANCELED2020 Space Weather Workshop
April 20-24
Boulder, CO
*Student abstracts due March 9. Poster and speaker abstracts due March 20

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

CANCELED: NCAR SEA's Improving Scientific Software Conference 2020
Proceedings will still be published this year
April 27-May 1
Boulder, CO

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.

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


Houses inundated by Sandy storm surge


A new tool developed at NCAR, the Hybrid WRF Cyclone Model, allows scientists to create an idealized storm (prescribing storm characteristics such as size and intensity), precisely place that storm where they want it, and then steer the storm toward land, giving them control over how and where the simulated hurricane makes landfall.

This ability to steer storms allows researchers to characterize a range of possible impacts from a landfalling hurricane at a particular location. Read more on NCAR's news site.


NCAR Explorer Series logo
The NCAR Explorer Series, a public outreach activity, has archived lectures, short science videos, and field campaign videos available on YouTube. The videos, aimed at a general audience, cover everything from weather radars and hurricane forecasts to ice sheets and air pollution.

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.