Brant Foote – RAL Director Welcome to the Research Applications Laboratory's Annual Report for FY2009. Our mission is to conduct directed research that contributes to the depth of fundamental scientific understanding, to foster the transfer of knowledge and technology for the betterment of life on earth, and to support technology transfer that expands the reach of atmospheric science. We are, at present, an organization with annual expenditures of approximately $37M and a staff comprised of nearly 240 scientists, software engineers, and management/administration personnel.
In 2009 we added a new program to the RAL organizational structure: The Climate Sciences and Applications Program (CSAP), headed by Lawrence Buja, has at its core a number of social scientists formerly associated with the Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment. CSAP has close ties to NCAR's Integrated Science Program (ISP) and numerous connections to scientists throughout NCAR and the university community. CSAP conducts interdisciplinary research on the interactions between society and weather and climate, and works to support decision making and increase societal resilience to the impacts of weather and climate. CSAP's work is highlighted in Section 6 of this Report.
Another significant change in 2009 was the development of new strategic plans at the NCAR and Laboratory levels. RAL's plan is closely allied with the NCAR plan in setting forth programmatic imperatives and frontiers to guide our work in the future. This Annual Report follows the outline of that strategic plan, providing details on our many accomplishments in 2009 and our plan for the future. In thinking strategically about where we believe the needs–and opportunities–for our work will lie over the next decade, we have added several exciting new dimensions to our program. Each of the efforts highlighted below (and described more fully in this Report) is supported both by outside funds and by NSF funding allocated to RAL through the Annual Budget Review process to support the basic research that is critical to the success of these new efforts.
- Renewable Energy: This year we launched a wind prediction program aimed at providing detailed, localized wind forecasts to allow Xcel Energy to more efficiently integrate wind-generated electricity into its power grid
- Water in the West: This work is focused on the pressing problems of water availability and water–related disasters in the Western U.S., with an emphasis on understanding the impact of climate change on water resources. Early efforts are focused on the Colorado Headwaters Project (joint with ISP) and on the application of the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system to help western water utilities better manage their resources
- Weather, Climate and Health: Human health is inextricably connected to weather and climate. Social and physical scientists at RAL are exploring these connections in a variety of studies aimed at understanding the transmission of diseases like dengue fever and meningitis, the impact of extreme weather events on people who live in cities, and the ways in which the urban environment affects weather and climate