The ASP mission, broadly defined, is to help NCAR (and the scientific communities it serves) prepare for the future. We work in support of other NCAR units to encourage the development of young scientists in the field of atmospheric science, to direct attention to timely scientific areas needing special emphasis, to help organize new science initiatives, to support interactions with universities, and to promote continuing education at NCAR.
The most important component of our program is the postdoctoral fellowship program, which has been a part of NCAR for more than thirty years and has brought more than 340 postdoctoral scientists to NCAR. Each year between 10 and 15 new postdoctoral scientists come to NCAR, usually in two-year appointments. They conduct their research in collaboration with NCAR scientists and work in all areas in which NCAR is involved. NCAR benefits from continuous contact with some of the brightest and most promising young scientists in our field and from the lasting associations that result. The postdoctoral scientists benefit from the opportunity to work with NCAR scientists, from exposure to the breadth of science at NCAR, and from the independence they are encouraged to develop. Many former fellows now occupy prominent positions at UCAR universities or at NCAR, and many present collaborations between NCAR and university scientists derive from associations that developed in the postdoctoral program.
The ASP also promotes the examination of research areas that merit special emphasis, either because they are particularly timely or because they seem under-emphasized relative to their importance. This is accomplished primarily by convening workshops and supporting appropriate visitors. As part of this effort, ASP hosts an annual summertime colloquium that brings graduate students to NCAR for an intensive set of lectures presented by selected scientists from within and outside NCAR. Last summer the topic was A Systems Approach to El-Niño/Southern Oscillation; the topic next summer will be Hurricanes at Landfall.
Another function of the ASP is to promote new science initiatives and programs that do not have a natural home in any one of the NCAR divisions. The Geophysical Turbulence Program seeks to represent interests in turbulence throughout NCAR. This very active program normally hosts an annual workshop, sponsors a seminar series, and in other ways helps coordinate the active program in turbulence research at NCAR. We have recently been helping promote the NCAR Aerosol Program, a new effort to coordinate and promote aerosol research at NCAR.
The ASP also includes: the NCAR Graduate Fellowship program, which provides a few opportunities for graduate students to conduct Ph.D. research projects at NCAR in collaboration with NCAR scientists; several seminar series including the NCAR-wide "Showcase Seminars" that highlight significant advances at NCAR; a Visiting Scholars Program that supports visits by NCAR scientists to UCAR affiliate universities; and a visitor program.
For more information on the ASP mission and plans, see the ASP Strategic Plan.