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NCAR Director's Message

NCAR Director, Tim Killeen
I am writing to you at the end of another busy and successful year of scientific work. I hope you will share my pride in the recent noteworthy accomplishments of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) staff and collaborators in the areas of science, facilities, and service as you read through this latest edition of NCAR’s Annual Report.

This year’s science achievements result in no small part because of ongoing support from the National Science Foundation, which sponsors us in our work to advance basic research in the United States in atmospheric and related sciences on behalf of the university community. In addition, our successes are attributable to our science community’s pervasive influence. Community interactions range from the many (and growing) number of individual collaborations, to active community participation on our advisory panels, and direct engagement in ongoing strategic planning–all of these relationships enhance and inform the work we do.

View Lab Reports on IPCC Participation:
ESSL report
SERE report
Fiscal Year 2007 (FY2007) saw the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). In addition to garnering the Nobel Peace Prize, which was shared with Albert Gore for “…efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change,” each AR4 Working Group report achieved extensive, worldwide media coverage worldwide, resulting in vastly increased public attention to changing climate.

The IPCC AR4 included intense scrutiny of current climate change science as documented in the peer-reviewed literature, and comparison of observational data with climate model simulations of past, present, and future climate states. The NSF and DOE-funded Community Climate System Model (CCSM) project was one of more than 15 different modeling centers around the globe that worked on a coordinated set of climate simulations which were provided to the AR4 scientists and authors. NCAR worked with DOE modeling centers and Japan’s Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) to produce more than 10,000 model years of simulated climate. This was the largest contribution of modeling data to the IPCC project made by any research center.

Perhaps the IPCC climate news occurred at the right place and time, or perhaps the evidence gained from daily life–warmer days, changing seasons, more extreme storms–simply became incontrovertible to the public. Either way, to a large degree the strength of the AR4 message is certainly attributable to the IPCC authors’ comprehensive examination of the evidence and clear expression of confidence in their findings. I would like to commend our many UCAR university partners, as well as NCAR scientists who contributed to this important assessment activity.

Click for more on CISL's Teragrid participation.
While FY2007 certainly had a significant climate focus, beyond this area, NCAR’s research, facility, and community service activities also continued to make notable strides. For instance, our Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) increased NCAR’s total computing capacity by more than a factor of two beyond last year’s levels, and is a contributing partner in NSF’s TeraGrid, an open scientific discovery computing infrastructure.

Click for more on EOL's instrumentation of the Gulfstream V research aircraft.
NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL), which develops and deploys observing facilities and provides data services for the university community, put the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V (formerly known as HIAPER) research plane through its paces, using its long-range capabilities during the Pacific Dust Experiment (PACDEX). Other EOL efforts ranged from taking direct ice nucleation measurements to better understand cloud ice-particle formation to developing a partnership with Colorado State University for creation of a national radar facility.

Click for more on ESSL's Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory (COSMO).
Our Earth and Sun System Laboratory (ESSL) plays a critical role in developing community models, and pursues fundamental research to address the environmental challenges facing society. Collaborations both within NCAR and with university colleagues have resulted in an exciting variety of work, including creation of new instruments and models, and research findings that are providing insights on Earth and Sun system interactions.

Among the exciting findings in ESSL’s divisions, the High Altitude Observatory’s Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter instrument enabled a scientific breakthrough by imaging, for the first time, Alfvén waves in the solar corona, which will provide researchers with greater understanding of the solar magnetic fields. The Mesoscale & Microscale Meteorology Division Advanced Research Weather and Research Forecast (ARW) model now includes new data assimilation capabilities, a variety of physics packages, and specialized packages such as WRF-Chem, WRF-Fire, and the Advanced Hurricane WRF (AHW). Atmospheric Chemistry Division scientists also made considerable progress this year in incorporating an interactive chemistry capability into the Community Atmospheric Model (CAM).

Click for more on RAL's Turbulence Detection System for Aviation.
The Research Applications Laboratory (RAL) bridges the gap between scientific discoveries and societal requirements, serving a range of audiences, from government agencies to private companies, looking to benefit from the latest science and technology advances in weather and other areas. Among this year’s highlights, RAL scientists created a turbulence detection system to alert commercial pilots to patches of rough air, thereby improving passenger safety.

Click for more on SERE's Societal Resilience System of Systems (SRSS).
In FY2007, the Societal-Environmental Research and Education (SERE) Laboratory gained a new director, Denise Stephenson-Hawk, who, with her team, developed a “societal resilience system of systems” (SRSS) framework that will help society better cope with, and mitigate against, climate, water, and weather uncertainties. Among the SERE highlights is the development of new analytical tools capable of functioning in both geographic information systems and weather and climate models.

For more information on these and our many other FY2007 efforts, I invite you to delve further into the 2007/2008 NCAR Annual Report.

Best wishes,

Tim Killeen