A Message from the NCAR Director

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is one of the world’s premier scientific institutions, with an internationally recognized staff and research program dedicated to advancing knowledge, providing community-based resources, and building human capacity in the atmospheric and related sciences. In this Annual Report, as well as the accompanying Laboratory Reports, I invite you to learn more about how our staff are collaborating with the broader research community, nationally and internationally, to produce impressive advances in our understanding of fundamental atmospheric processes and how the atmosphere interacts with and is influenced by other components of the Earth and Sun system. This progress is being driven, in part, by new technologies and their effective utilization at NCAR, including advanced observing facilities for field studies, powerful supercomputing capabilities, valuable research data sets that describe the Earth and the Sun, and widely used state-of-the-science community models that are providing improved capabilities for predictions of weather (including catastrophic events), air quality, hydrology, climate variability and change, and space weather. Moreover, educational and technology transfer activities at NCAR continue to encourage outstanding young scientists into the field and bring new research and technical achievements into the public and private sectors. Although only a small sampling of the many notable accomplishments of the past year, these aspects are illustrated through the accompanying set of highlights of our work. I also wish to call out that 2015 was extremely special in that we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the High Altitude Observatory (http://www2.hao.ucar.edu/HAO-75th-anniversary), a milestone in an ongoing quest to learn about the Sun’s behavior and its impact on Earth.


In 2015 NCAR continued to work under its new strategic plan, which is easily accessible from our main web page (http://ncar.ucar.edu/). For example, we launched a new initiative to develop a user-focused, integrated system for the discovery and access of our digital scientific assets (https://ncar.ucar.edu/data-stewardship-engineering-team-dset), and we began a new cross-center effort to enhance community facilities in data assimilation. The recently introduced Atmospheric Chemistry Center for Observational Research and Data (https://www2.acom.ucar.edu/accord) hosted a community workshop in 2015 to identify in situ atmospheric chemistry measurement priorities. All of these initiatives will remain priorities in 2016, a year in which we also look forward to the public release of version 2.0 of the Community Earth System Model (https://www2.cesm.ucar.edu), as well as the continued development, support and application of other major community modeling efforts, including the Weather Research and Forecasting model (http://wrf-model.org/index.php) and the Model for Prediction Across Scales (http://mpas-dev.github.io/). NCAR will continue its commitment to world-class airborne, ground-based and space-based observational facilities and services, including the pursuit of new instrumentation, such as the Airborne Phased Array Radar (http://president.ucar.edu/development/capability/airborne-phased-array-radar-apar) and the Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory (http://www2.hao.ucar.edu/cosmo). NCAR will also install a new powerful supercomputer, named Cheyenne, at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (https://nwsc.ucar.edu/) in 2016, which will continue our commitment to provide supercomputing systems and services specifically tailored for the atmospheric, geospace and related sciences community. Cheyenne will be capable of more than 2.5 times the amount of scientific computing performed by Yellowstone, the current NCAR supercomputer.

In pursuing these and other objectives laid out in the strategic plan, NCAR will continue to work synergistically with and in support of the broader academic community, not least the 109 member universities of its management entity, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). This includes relations with university researchers coming to NCAR as both short- and long-term visitors, serving on NCAR advisory committees and working groups, and working as principal investigators on field campaigns. In so doing, NCAR will embrace a leadership role in delivering objective information in support of national and international decisions on mitigation, adaptation, resiliency and sustainability, and it will continue to actively engage with the stakeholders and the consumers of its science.

For now, please enjoy this Annual Report as but a snapshot of recent NCAR competencies, facilities, and scientific accomplishments. In addition, please accept my sincere thanks for your ongoing support and your hard work.

With best wishes for 2016,

Jim Hurrell