Director's Message | Highlights | Education and Outreach | ASR 2003 Home


Director's Message

Dear Colleagues:

I am very pleased to present to you this Web-based 2003 Annual Scientific Report for the National Center for Atmospheric Research. We continue to make great strides in the implementation of our strategic plan (, with progress on basic research in the atmospheric and related sciences, supercomputing and cyberinfrastructure, HIAPER and other observing facilities, field campaigns and workshops, and large-scope community models. This past year, our startup programs in Biogeosciences, Water Cycle, Wildland Fire, Geographic Information Systems, Data Assimilation, and other strategic initiatives, have made significant progress, fostering new collaborations with our university colleagues. Our education and outreach programs are quickly expanding, with exciting programs for educators, students, and the public. All of our work is designed to link with and extend the capabilities of the university research community. This report provides detailed summaries of these and many more of our activities.

A new feature of this year's report is an Executive Summary from each division. Reading these will provide you with an overview of divisional work which can be expanded with just a click of the mouse, taking you the body of the report where you will find the details of the work.

Facilities and Community Support


The Scientific Computing Division's Advanced Computing Research System (ARCS) saw major advances this year, with the addition of a completely new supercomputer, "bluesky". On its arrival, bluesky was ranked in the top ten of supercomputers worldwide and immediately doubled the Community and Climate Simulation Laboratory computing resources. While these statistics are gratifying in themselves, I was even more pleased to see how quickly bluesky came on line and was made available as a significant new computational resource for the community. NCAR prides itself on providing full-service, end-to-end, robust computing environments for the atmospheric and geosciences community.

NCAR also held an important community workshop focused on the cyberinfrastructure needs for NSF-sponsored environmental research and education. On our cyberinfrastructure Web site ( you will find a copy of the workshop report.


We continue to make progress, on schedule and within budget, in the acquisition of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER). During the year, we completed a number of critical design reviews and successfully finished building and testing the airframe. HIAPER is now being structurally modified for scientific use. Community working groups continue to set specifications and develop instrumentation for future scientific flights. The aircraft is scheduled for delivery on time next November, with the first scientific flights planned for June 2005.


One of the most complex observational campaigns conducted this year was BAMEX - the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex Experiment - which involved collaborators from 12 universities, mobile ground systems, and several aircraft. BAMEX was focused on improving our understanding some of the most dynamic and severe weather systems in nature. The field campaign also provided an opportunity to perform convective-resolving real-time forecasts using the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model in support of field operations. Initial findings include observations of a wealth of vortices on many scales, upscale growth of vortices, and deep rear-inflow layers in severe mesoscale convective systems.

Forum with UCAR Member Universities Junior Faculty

In 2003, NCAR sponsored the first Junior Faculty Forum on Future Scientific Directions. This three-day event brought together 39 junior faculty members (representing approximately 10% of the junior faculty in geosciences) and 23 NCAR early career scientists. We were thrilled with the enthusiastic participation and look forward to hosting another such forum in 2004 to promote scientific discussions and encourage the development of professional relationships between members of the NCAR Early Career Scientist Assembly and UCAR institutions.

Education and Outreach

Among our education and outreach efforts, we are particularly proud of the second Undergraduate Leadership Workshop and the two-week Geoscience Educators' Workshop, designed for K-12 master teachers. We also hosted many hundreds of scientific visitors and opened a new exhibit on climate change at the Mesa Laboratory.

Progress on Community Models

We are about to release a new version of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM-3) after more than two years of preparation involving many NCAR and community scientists. CCSM-3 will be used for production runs in support of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), starting in January 2004 . Similarly, with partners from many agencies and institutions, we have developed and released the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model, which has been downloaded by more than 1,000 scientists worldwide. In June, NCAR researchers organized a workshop with university participants to define the implementation and testing strategy for a coupled Land Surface Modeling system. This workshop is part of a larger effort to improve prediction of the impacts of land-surface processes on regional weather, climate, and hydrology. WRF is scheduled to become an operational model for both NOAA and the Department of Defense in October 2004. With funding from NASA, we and our partners have released the first version of a new Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF), which has the potential to revolutionize numerical simulation of climate, weather, and space weather by providing a common modeling infrastructure designed for code reuse and extensive interoperability of software components.

This year researchers completed Version 1b of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM1b). This is a non-interactive version of WACCM, whose dynamical outputs can be used to drive the Model for Ozone and Related Chemical Tracers (MOZART-3) off-line chemical model. Researchers are moving forward with testing of WACCM2, a fully interactive model that incorporates MOZART-3 chemistry mechanism and other components. WACCM2 will be used to investigate problems where coupling between chemistry and dynamics is important, such as the response of the winter stratosphere to ozone depletion, the effects of increasing greenhouse gases, and the response to solar variability over the 11-year solar cycle. Eventually, WACCM will be used as an atmosphere component in future versions of CCSM.

Scientific Research

Resolution of Tropical Ozone Paradox

Researchers in our Atmospheric Chemistry Division have investigated the effect of biomass burning on tropical chemistry, using remote and in-situ measurements to help explain the observed tropospheric ozone distribution over the Atlantic. Specifically, in this careful investigation, they have resolved the tropical ozone paradox by a careful integration of satellite observations of CO and other species with air trajectory calculations and chemical transport models. They conclude that more low-atmospheric ozone over the tropical Atlantic develops as a result of lightning than of agricultural or fossil fuel burning.

Early Warning Systems Workshop

Following the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, there has been significantly increased interest in effective disaster warning systems. Our Environmental and Societal Impacts Group held an innovative workshop on "Early Warning Systems: Do's and Don'ts". The workshop brought together participants from 12 nations to examine ways to improve the theory and practice of designing and implementing warning systems. The mobility of people and products in today's global economy was a central theme of the recommendations. Future warning systems will require "thinking globally, acting locally and globally." We look forward to the final workshop report in FY 2004.

I hope you visit this Web report to learn more about NCAR's contributions to areas of your research interests as well as other aspects of our program.

Tim Killeen
NCAR Director

-Top of Page-

National Center for Atmospheric Research University Corporation for Atmospheric Research National Science Foundation Annual Scientific Report 2002 Atmospheric Chemistry Division Advanced Study Program Atmospheric Technology Division Climate and Global Dynamics Division Environmental and Societal Impacts Group High Altitude Observatory Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division Research Applications Program Scientific Computing Division