National Center for Atmospheric Research


National Center for Atmospheric Research
NCAR Mesa Lab, Boulder, Colorado

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR, pronounced "EN-car"[1]) has multiple facilities, including the I. M. Pei-designed Mesa Laboratory headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. NCAR is managed by the nonprofit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Studies include meteorology, climate science, atmospheric chemistry, solar-terrestrial interactions, environmental and societal impacts.

Contents

Research, services, and facilities

NCAR provides a broad array of tools and technologies to the scientific community for studying Earth’s atmosphere, including[2], [3]

The center is staffed by scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel who develop and extend these capabilities.[1] Key research areas include [4]

  • Climate (Earth’s past, present, and future climate; the greenhouse effect, global warming, and climate change; El Niño, La Niña, and other large-scale atmospheric patterns; drought, wildfires)
  • Meteorology/Weather (short-term forecasts; weather forecasting and predictability; weather's effect on climate; hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe storms; physical processes)
  • Environmental and societal impacts (impacts of climate change on the natural and managed environment; interactions of weather, climate, and society; weather hazard systems for aviation and ground transportation; national security)
  • Pollution and air chemistry (air pollution on local, regional, and global scales; air chemistry and climate; chemical evolution and transport in the atmosphere)
  • the Sun and space weather (the structure of the Sun, from its interior to sunspots to the solar corona; the solar cycle; the Sun’s effect on Earth’s weather and climate; space weather)
  • Other components of the Earth system (the effects on weather and climate of interactions with: the oceans and other components of Earth's water cycle, including sea ice, glaciers, and the rest of the cryosphere; forests, agriculture, urbanization and other types of land use)

NCAR is organized into five laboratories and two programs:[5]

Laboratories

  • Computational & Information Systems Laboratory (CISL)
  • Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL)
  • High Altitude Observatory (HAO)
  • NCAR Earth System Laboratory (NESL)
  • Research Applications Laboratory (RAL)

Programs

  • Advanced Study Program (ASP)
  • Integrated Science Program (ISP)

NCAR's service to the universities and larger geosciences community is reinforced by the offerings of UCAR's community programs.[6], [7]

Computational and Information Systems Laboratory

The Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) is a laboratory within the National Center for Atmospheric Research. CISL was formerly known as the Scientific Computing Division (SCD). CISL manages and operates NCAR's supercomputers, mass storage system, networking, and other computing and cyberinfrastructure services. The Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe) is a research division within CISL.[5]

Participation in 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

Many NCAR scientists participate in national and international collaborations, projects, assessments, and panels. Notable among these is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Scores of NCAR researchers and technical staff have contributed time and expertise to the IPCC assessments of climate change[8] since they began in 1990, and all of them shared with colleagues around the world in the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC.[9]

Architecture

NCAR's flagship building is the award-winning [10] [11] Mesa Laboratory, designed by architect I.M. Pei in the 1960s. This Boulder landmark sits atop 600-foot high Walter Orr Roberts mesa above the city, against the Flatirons formation of the Rocky Mountains.[12]

Visiting

Public tours

The Visitor Center at the Mesa Laboratory is open to the public daily at no charge. Guided tours and self-guided audio tours include one of the first supercomputers built by Seymour Cray as well as NCAR's modern supercomputer fleet, many hands-on educational exhibits demonstrating weather phenomena and Earth's changing climate, and a scenic outdoor weather trail.

Scientific visitors

NCAR has many opportunities for scientific visits to the facilities for workshops, colloquia, and collaboration by colleagues in academia, government labs, and the private sector.[13] Many NCAR staff also visit colleagues at universities and labs and serve as adjunct or visiting faculty.[7], [13]

Funding and management

NCAR is managed by the nonprofit UCAR and is one of the NSF's Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, with approximately 95% of its funding coming from the federal government. However, NCAR is not a federal agency and its employees are not part of the federal personnel system.[1] NCAR employs about 1,000 staff. Its annual expenditures in fiscal year 2008 were $181 million.[1] Roger Wakimoto became director of NCAR in 2010.[14]

Notable scientists on the staff at the center include Tom Wigley, Kevin Trenberth, and Caspar Ammann.[15]

References

External links


Coordinates: 39°58′41″N 105°16′30″W / 39.97815°N 105.27492°W / 39.97815; -105.27492


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