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ESSL LAR 2009: Director's Message

Dear Colleagues:

Greg Holland
NCAR Associate Director
Acting Director, Earth and Sun Systems Laboratory

Preamble: The latter half of FY 2009 has seen substantial changes in the Earth and Sun Systems Laboratory (ESSL), with the High Altitude Observatory leaving to become a new Laboratory and the Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate and Global Dynamics, and Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Divisions combining into the NCAR Earth System Laboratory (NESL). The full structure and operating processes for NESL are being developed in close liaison with staff, and remain in transition as I write. However, I can assure you that the NESL will maintain and enhance the tradition of leading-edge, integrative science and major community-facility support that is a hallmark of NCAR.  This commitment will extend beyond NESL to include other NCAR laboratories and to our wide range of community colleagues and collaborators.

The year also saw the transformation of TIIMES into a new Integrated Systems Program (ISP). The role of ISP in the NESL is also being developed at the time of writing, but we have assumed direct responsibility for several components of the major elements of TIIMES, working in collaboration with the wider community. These include: BEACHON, UTLS, Water Across Scales and THORPEX. Progress with these activities is included in the LAR details.

Our mission: To advance the understanding of weather, climate and atmospheric composition and processes; to provide facility support to the wider community; and to apply these to benefit society.

In performing this mission, we shall continue to:

  • Sustain and nurture our fundamental disciplinary programs, while reaching out to engage other disciplines in accomplishing our goals;
  • Undertake transformational research, which involves an element of risk but is essential to improving our understanding of the earth system and to our development of major community facilities;
  • Engage with community leaders and policy makers to convey research findings, to develop new research directions, and to emphasize the importance of investment in research and major facility development;
  • Invest wisely in the maintenance and continuing development of community modeling,  instrumental and experimental facilities;
  • Develop next-generation tools and techniques utilizing cutting-edge research and in collaboration with the wider community;
  • Encourage and promote new, diverse talent into our field through participation in educational programs from K12 through graduate university, and by mentoring students and young scientists.

Laboratory Annual Report: This year we have mapped our LAR to the NCAR strategic plan and this emphasizes the depth and breadth of NESL support for NCAR Priorities and Frontiers. For 2009, our priority activities included:

  • Advancing knowledge across a wide range of atmospheric, chemical, solar and climate areas
  • Prediction Across Scales and Earth Teleconnections
    • Decadal Global and Regional Climate Prediction, including preparation for IPCC V and time-slice decadal predictions of high-impact weather such as Atlantic hurricanes and western snow pack
    • Nested Regional Climate Modeling
    • Earth System Modeling, including the Model for Prediction Across Scales and the Community Earth System Model
    • Further development and expansion of the Weather Research and Forecasting modeling system
    • Towards an Integrated Model of the Sun
  • Hydrosphere-Biosphere Interactions
  • Polar Dynamics: Ice and Chemical Composition
  • Space Weather

Outlook: NESL has a solid foundation of expertise, facilities and community interactions from which to build as we transition to our new structure. Over the next several months we shall be developing a strategic plan outlining our laboratory priorities and frontiers in support of the recently-developed NCAR strategic plan. As indicated in our mission statement, our priority will continue to be on benefiting society and supporting our colleagues in academia through both advancing knowledge and further development and continued support for our major modeling and experimental facilities

Greg Holland
NCAR Associate Director
Acting Director, Earth and Sun Systems Laboratory