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, and in 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.


These highlights and many other aspects of NCAR programs and management were comprehensively reviewed in 2016 by Site Visit Teams of external experts on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Four topical areas were addressed in detail: Observational Research and Facilities (2-4 May); Computational Research, Facilities, and Data Systems (24-26 May); Modeling and Data Assimilation (6-8 June); and the Management of NCAR (31 August – 2 September). Each site visit focused on a set of related questions examining the overall quality of the research and services in the context of the current NCAR Strategic Plan 2014-2019 and the two NSF merit review criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. Additional review criteria addressed NCAR’s role as a National Center, strategic partnerships, and management. Overall, the reviews of NCAR programs and activities were stellar, as exemplified by this SVT quote: Overall scientific achievement is outstanding. The extremely impressive number of publications and citation rates are testaments to NCAR's scientific expertise and its large and valuable impact on the research community as a whole. The scientific excellence of the NCAR staff and their openness to collaborations provide significant value to the research community and promotes the ability of partners in the academic, government, and private sectors to perform high quality research and develop impactful technologies. There were also recommendations of how to make NCAR even more effective in meeting its mission that will be the focus of considerable attention in 2017 and beyond.

In pursuing these recommendations 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 110 member universities of its management entity, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). This synergy 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 continue to 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 2017,

Jim Hurrell