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UCAR Update



Last week I wrote to members of the UCAR community about some important programmatic decisions at NCAR that may impact our Member Institutions and the larger research community. NCAR is making program reductions in some areas to ensure that the organization has the resources it needs to focus on its strategic priorities. These reductions amount to about $9 million, or 9 percent of NCAR’s base funding — money that can be reinvested to strengthen our strategic priorities.  

NCAR leadership — in consultation with NSF AGS and the UCAR Board of Trustees — made this difficult decision for several reasons. For a number of years the organization has experienced flat base budgets. Given inflation and related operational costs, this has effectively meant that NCAR has had to do more with less each year, leading to deferred investments in many of our program areas. We do not expect our funding picture to change in the near future. 

NCAR program reductions are primarily in the areas of impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability research; statistical and numerical methodologies; and solar interior modeling. The staff directly impacted have all worked to advance the NCAR mission, and their excellent science and service have brought great value to NCAR and the community. However, these strategic decisions were necessary in order to ensure the long-term health of the Center. 

NSF has indicated it anticipates to fund the Center at no more than $500 million over the next five years under the new cooperative agreement, which begins October 1, 2018 — which amounts to continued flat funding. We are not unique in this regard; many member institutions are facing the same challenges due to flat Federal budgets. Our responsibility has been and will continue to be to meet these challenges head on, with innovation and efficiency. 

The multi-year planning that NCAR Director Jim Hurrell and the National Center’s leadership has engaged in — and which I fully support — has set us on a robust path that will ensure the long-term health of the Center and our continued ability to serve our Member Institutions and the broader community.

At UCAR’s Annual Members Meeting, October 10–11, there will be opportunity to discuss these changes and NCAR’s direction as Jim Hurrell kicks off planning for NCAR’s next strategic plan (2019 to 2024) with these priorities in mind: community modeling and Earth system prediction; observational science, facilities, and services; advanced computing and data services; and education and outreach. These priorities fulfill a unique role for NCAR and cannot be done as effectively elsewhere.

Antonio J. Busalacchi
UCAR President



▹ Mesa Lab at 50

On August 17, NCAR marked 50 years since the dedication of the Mesa Laboratory with a rededication. NCAR Director Emeritus Bob Serafin and representatives from NSF, the families of  Walter Orr Roberts and I.M. Pei, federal and local elected officials, and local industry spoke. 

During his remarks, UCAR President Antonio Busalacchi highlighted the role our founding member universities played in the creation of the lab and the vibrant scientific institution it has come to represent. He noted that at the 1967 dedication, the first chair of UCAR, Henry Houghton, also remarked on the importance of the partnerships that resulted in creation of a unique building in a remarkable setting.

At the original dedication, Houghton said: "This was not and could not have been the result of a small group of proponents. Rather, it has been achieved by the possibly unprecedented cooperation and support of many individuals and agencies from both the public and private sectors."

“While he was talking about the Mesa Lab,” Busalacchi said, “he could also have been describing what makes our organization so special to this day.”
We have posted video on the NCAR|UCAR YouTube channel of the speakers' remarks at the Mesa Lab rededication. In the coming weeks we will also post the webcast recording of the invited talk, "A Different Kind of Beauty: I.M. Pei's Modernist Masterpiece," presented at the start of the ceremony by Stuart Leslie (historian of science, Johns Hopkins University).

UCAR has made a wide selection of memorabilia available, featuring the anniversary logo, via Proceeds from purchases help support the activities of Friends of UCAR.



▹ Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS)

At this year's hurricane season churns on with considerable consequences, NCAR scientists are continuing to test this advanced research model to see how well it can predict storm track and intensity.

MPAS uses an innovative software approach that allows scientists to focus on regional conditions while still capturing far-flung atmospheric processes that can influence the storm in question. This is a contrast to the forecast models typically used to track hurricanes today, which cannot simultaneously capture both global and local atmospheric processes. MPAS is able to do both because it uses a flexible mesh that allows researchers to zoom into higher resolution in some areas — over hurricane breeding grounds, for example — while zooming out over the rest of Earth. This ability to vary resolution across the globe requires a small fraction of the computing power needed to see high resolution everywhere. For non-technical background on MPAS, see The quest to predict severe weather sooner (AtmosNews).

Explore 10-day forecasts: MPAS Experimental Hurricane Forecasts

Details: MPAS Overview
Contact: Chris Davis, NCAR Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory


In recognition of the passing of organizational colleagues and leaders in our community, we provide links on our website to obituaries as we learn of their deaths. We are sad to report recent additions:

  • Walter Grotewold (NCAR Earth Observing Laboratory)
  • A. Richard "Dick" Kassander (Founding member of UCAR and former chair of the Board of Trustees)
On the web: Colleagues We Will Miss



▹ Large-scale allocations on Cheyenne - CISL

Seeking university-based researchers

NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory is now accepting requests from university-based researchers for large-scale allocations for the new 5.34-petaflops Cheyenne cluster. Large allocations on Cheyenne are those of more than 400,000 core-hours. CISL accepts requests from university researchers for these large-scale allocations every six months.

Deadline: September 18
Details: CISL HPC Allocations Panel

▹ NASA Living With a Star Institute - Call for Proposals

The NASA LWS Institute seeks proposals that develop principles in relation to one or the other of the following two topics:
  • Total electron content and ionospheric scintillation for GPS applications
  • Prediction and specification of >10 MeV proton flux
Proposals should focus on reviewing the current state of the art models and observations, evaluate how leading predictive models agree with in situ measurements and identify paths forward for addressing the key science and application gaps that need to be solved for improvements in models and predictions

Deadline: November 1, 2017
Details: LWS Institute Call for Proposals

▹ Research Collaboration Opportunities at NCEP - Call for Proposals

Short-term opportunities at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction

We are seeking research project proposals from scientists in academia, government laboratories, nonprofits, and the private sector to interact with colleagues at NCEP. This program offers an opportunity for the research community to be fully integrated within a national scale operational environment for discrete periods of time. Researchers integrated within "operations" will provide great benefit to NOAA research to operations (R2O) transitions activities, bringing new concepts, tools, processes, and innovation to the conduct of "operations" more efficiently. 

Deadline: Applications accepted any time, reviewed on a rolling basis
Details: NCEP Research Collaboration Opportunities
Contact: Meg Austin, Senior Advisor, CPAESS or Genene Fisher, NCEP Executive Officer

▹ Upcoming Events - CPAESS

UCAR Cooperative Program for the Advancement of Earth System Science

  • Indian Ocean Science Workshop — Sept. 11-13
  • Ocean Salinity Science Team: OSST-2017 Meeting — Sept. 18-20
  • Joint COSMIC Tenth Data Users' Workshop & IROWG-6 Meeting — Sept. 21-27
  • Ocean Carbon Hot Spots Workshop — Sept. 25-26, 2017
  • Last Millenium Reanalysis: Community Meeting and Hackathon — October 2-4
Details: CPAESS - Upcoming Events

▹ New from the COMET Program


New modules

Forecasting Aviation Convective Impacts with INSITE
was developed to improve NWS convective impact forecasts by enabling forecasters to include more precise impact areas in aviation convective weather forecast products. This lesson follows an approach for using INSITE (INtegrated Support for Impacted air-Traffic Environments) from a national and a regional perspective. The domain of the INSITE tool is currently limited to CONUS, the Great Lakes, adjacent coastal waters, and nearby airspace to the north and south.

Advances in Space-Based Nighttime Visible Observation, 2nd Edition
explores the types of atmospheric and surface features that can be observed at night. This updated lesson describes recent technical improvements in nighttime visible imaging with the VIIRS Day/Night Band on board the Suomi NPP and JPSS satellites, and the lunar phases and other conditions necessary for effective nighttime visible imaging. This lays the foundation for the rest of the lesson, which explores operational uses of nighttime visible observations. 

WPC Rainfall Guidance for Tropical Cyclones
introduces learners to the challenges in predicting precipitation associated with tropical cyclones (TCs). It also provides an overview of the deterministic and probabilistic rainfall guidance products issued by the Weather Prediction Center to forecast TC-related precipitation. The lesson also highlights the different interpretations of probabilistic products from WPC and the National Hurricane Center, and the need for collaboration between national centers to ensure a unified message.

Statistical Methods in the NWS National Blend of Global Models Part 2
introduces the statistics used in generating the various weather element forecasts included in the NWS National Blend of Global Models (NBM). It is intended for forecasters and users of NWS forecast products; some prior knowledge of numerical weather prediction and statistics is useful. Learners will be introduced to the analysis of record used to calibrate the NBM’s bias and error estimates. Learners will also explore the bias correction, weighting, and post-processing procedures used to produce the forecasts.

Reservoir Pool Elevation: Considerations for Long-term Asset Management and Planning
Reservoirs form the heart of water resource assets; long-range plans for their repair, replacement, maintenance and renovation depend on accurate projections of reservoir pool elevations. Environmental conditions, in turn, dictate the magnitude and timing of inflows and outflows from reservoirs, and thus the resulting water surface elevation. This lesson explores the factors that affect reservoir pool elevation and the considerations and challenges that changing reservoir pool elevations pose to managing existing water resources.

Using the Local Climate Analysis Tool (LCAT) for Water Resilience Decisions
offers users of climate information a demonstration of LCAT for water resources applications. The training follows a NOAA Climate Resilience Toolkit case study in Tampa, Florida, and illustrates how LCAT analyses can be used to inform the steps to climate resilience outlined in the Toolkit. This lesson is for anyone using LCAT for water resources decision-making, though it will be most useful to those with some familiarity with water resources information needs. Some background with NWS climate data and products will be useful.

Foundations of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
provides a technical introduction to GNSS, covering theory, procedures, and accuracy issues. Aimed at engineers, surveyors, meteorologists, geographers and GIS professionals, it will also be useful for emergency managers and technically-inclined members of the general public with appropriate math and/or science background.

Translations - Spanish

Modelado de las olas cerca de la costa
(Nearshore Wave Modeling) 

SatFC-G: Principios básicos de radiación
(SatFC-G: Basic Principles of Radiation)

Translations - German

Grundlagen des Wetterradars
(Weather Radar Fundamentals)

Translations - French

Modélisation des vagues côtières
(Nearshore Wave Modeling)


Details: All MetEd lessons, courses & translations
Follow COMET on: Facebook | YouTube | Flickr
Contact: UCAR COMET Program, 

▹ Professional, Technical, Postdoctoral Careers, Student Internships

On the web

Via email - OppsList, for the UCAR community & beyond

Subscribe to UCAR OppsList to receive timely announcements in your inbox of professional and student opportunities at NCAR|UCAR, at UCAR member colleges and universities, and in the broader atmospheric and Earth system science community.

▹ Reminders

From our previous issue

FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC Data Users Workshop
Event: September 21-27
Location: Seattle, WA
Details: COSMIC & IROWG meeting
Contact: Becky Cotter, UCAR COSMIC Program


Research and education news from NCAR|UCAR
Illustration of asteroid impact
Protege Jeremiah Piersante with Professor Deanna Hence
Reaching more students
than ever
Side-by-side pre- and post-processed images, 1901 eclipse
NASA image of solar eclipse

Forward to a colleague
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