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UCAR CURRENTS

JULY 2020
Dear members of the Earth system science community,

Last month, UCAR and its Board of Trustees publicly released a statement on institutional racism in which we acknowledged the very real challenges that Black scientists face in Earth system science and the painfully slow pace of change. We have recommitted ourselves to taking specific actions to fight institutional racism and we are inviting suggestions for how we can accelerate our progress. Please take a moment to read our full statement and get in touch if you have ideas to share.

Sincerely,
UCAR President Antonio Busalacchi
president@ucar.edu

 

NEWS & OPPORTUNITIES

The cover of the NCAR strategic plan

NCAR'S NEW STRATEGIC PLAN CHARTS PATH FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS

Last week, NCAR released its new strategic plan, which sets out to build on core research strengths that respond to the scientific and societal challenges of our time.

Advancing scientific understanding of the atmosphere and its complex interactions with other components of the Earth system is more crucial than ever, holding the potential to save lives, contribute to economic prosperity, and ensure a sustainable and secure future for the planet. 

To realize these benefits, researchers, educators, and decision makers need science that generates sound and useful information about Earth system behavior, variability, and change. The NCAR Strategic Plan 2020-24 charts a path forward to address challenging scientific and technological problems of national importance that fill critical gaps in knowledge and that require long-term focus and integration across areas of expertise.

The new plan supports the National Science Foundation’s mission and helps NCAR stay vital within the Earth system science community. The plan also aligns with the major new National Academy of Sciences’ study “Advancing a Systems Approach to Studying the Earth: A Strategy for the National Science Foundation," which highlights the plan's timeliness and how it is positioning NCAR for a future of continued scientific excellence and leadership in the nation. 

Learn more.

US CLIVAR is launching a Data Science Webinar Series, which will feature experts in Earth science, statistics, and computer science, with the specific goal of fostering collaboration across these disciplinary boundaries. The webinars will occur biweekly, starting July 20.

SCIENCE POLICY INSIDER

New NSF director confirmed:

Sethuraman Panchanathan was confirmed by voice vote in the full Senate on June 18 to serve as the next director of the National Science Foundation. The NSF director position is typically a six-year term, which would carry his stay at the agency through the next two presidential elections. House Science Committee Chairwoman Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Lucas (R-OK) both issued statements congratulating him on his confirmation.

FY21 budget and appropriations update:

The House Appropriations Committee is now planning to begin its mark-ups next week, with the Commerce, Science, Justice, and Related Agencies bill that funds NSF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and NASA scheduled for consideration on July 8. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s mark-ups on fiscal year 2021 bills that were scheduled to begin during the second half of June have been delayed while the Senate addresses criminal justice reform proposals, the annual defense authorization bill and possibly another COVID-19 relief package. They are now expected to mark up many of their appropriations bills in July, but have not released an official schedule at this time.

Lawmakers introduce $25 billion bill for research relief:

A bipartisan group of six representatives have introduced the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act, which calls for approximately $25 billion to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on federally funded research projects at universities, independent institutions, and national laboratories. The legislation includes $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $5 billion for the Department of Energy, $3 billion for NSF, and $2 billion for NASA, among other federal science agencies.

APLU call with House science committee on NSF:

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology discussed their outlooks on research recovery at universities, research security, NSF reauthorization, and the Endless Frontiers Act with members of the Association of Public and Land Grand Universities in a call on June 24. From the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, there is support for funding additional research infrastructure as part of recovery efforts if sponsors can show that specific basic research investments are important to U.S. economic competitiveness and to the recovery from the pandemic.

For the Endless Frontiers Act specifically, staffers suggested that some supporters in the Senate may try to attach it to the Senate’s version of the defense authorization act to at least “put it in play” for a deal at the end of the year. The Research and Technology Subcommittee is also assembling a “staff draft” of a NSF reauthorization bill that will include a new directorate that addresses some of the same goals as the proposed new “Technology Directorate” in the Endless Frontiers Act, but with greater flexibility and less disruption to how NSF currently operates. Their goal is to find a balance between supporting NSF’s current mission and the pushing of boundaries and new experimentation.

New NASA Earth Science Division director speaks:

The new Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Karen St. Germain, spoke publicly for the first time in her new position at an online meeting of NASA’s Earth Science Technology Forum on June 23. She spoke about the current decadal survey process, budgets, and issues that pose challenges as well as opportunities for implementing the decadal recommendations. Those factors include improvements in technology in the last few years, growing demand for “actionable information” regarding climate change and other environmental issues, as well as the increasing role of the commercial sector in providing new Earth observing capabilities. St. Germain came to NASA from NOAA, where she was the deputy assistant administrator for systems at NESDIS, NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. In that role she led a study that examined a next-generation architecture for future weather satellites that makes use of smaller satellites and nontraditional orbits.

A NOAA ocean glider

NOAA ramps up use of drones to collect weather data:

NOAA has announced that the agency is accelerating the use of autonomous (unmanned) ocean vehicles this summer in the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic oceans to supplement the loss of weather data due to limited ship and aircraft missions. The underwater ocean gliders are equipped with wind, solar radiation, salinity, and temperature sensors to receive important data during the hurricane season and to support hurricane forecast models.

NCAR | UCAR SCIENCE NEWS

Scientific graphic of the Sun clock

NEW ‘SUN CLOCK’ REVEALS THAT SOLAR ACTIVITY TURNS OFF AND ON WITH SURPRISING PRECISION

Solar scientists have taken a mathematical technique used by Earth scientists to analyze cyclic phenomena, such as the ebb and flow of ocean tides, and applied it to the confounding irregularity of cycles on the Sun. The result is an elegant “Sun clock” that shows that solar activity starts and stops on a much more precise schedule than could be discerned when looking at observations of the Sun in the traditional way – plotted linearly over time.

Read more.
A hot-looking sky over NYC

NEW RESEARCH WILL LOOK AT HEAT WAVE RISKS DURING PANDEMIC

As the United States nears its hottest time of the year, scientists are launching a research project into whether the public health impacts of extreme heat will be amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more.

An image of the Sun

SCIENTISTS FIND CLUES TO SOLAR VARIABILITY IN OTHER STARS

A team of researchers has analyzed existing data from an array of telescopes trained at 72 Sun-like stars. By applying statistical techniques to the observations they have assembled a picture of the Sun's variability equivalent to observations stretching back to 1750.

Read more.

INCREASED WARMING IN LATEST GENERATION OF CLIMATE MODELS LIKELY CAUSED BY CLOUDS

As scientists work to determine why some of the latest climate models suggest the future could be warmer than previously thought, a new study indicates the reason is likely related to challenges simulating the formation and evolution of clouds.

Read more.  

DID YOU KNOW?

PRISM data visualization

NCAR'S CLIMATE DATA GUIDE PROVIDES INFO ON THE STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF KEY DATA SETS

You can search and access 211 data sets covering the atmosphere, ocean, land, and more (including PRISM data, pictured above), using the Climate Data Guide. Explore climate indices, reanalyses, and satellite data and understand their application to climate model metrics. This is the only data portal that combines data discovery, metadata, figures, and world-class expertise on the strengths, limitations, and applications of climate data. 

EXPLORE THE DATA

Join UCAR OppsList

A community email group for exchanging timely information about  job openings, events, and other opportunities in the Earth system science community.
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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 

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