CGD Director's Message

The 2017 CGD-Laboratory Annual Report (CGD-LAR) highlights some examples of the exceptional results produced by Laboratory staff during the last fiscal year. This research significantly furthers the CGD mission “to discover the key processes of the Earth’s climate system and to understand the interactions among them; to represent the knowledge in community models that effectively utilize computing advances; and to apply these models and observations to scientific problems of societal relevance.

This CGD-LAR focuses on activities that fall within the two NCAR Imperatives that most align with the CGD Strategic Plan; namely, Imperative 1 – Conduct innovative fundamental research to advance the atmospheric and related sciences; Imperative 3 – Develop, deliver and support a suite of advanced community models. They span a broad of atmospheric, ocean, polar and terrestrial science related to past, present and future climates, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the Laboratory.

CGD does contribute significantly to other Imperatives, and in particular – Educate and entrain a talented and diverse group of students and early career professionals. Related activities such as workshops and tutorials tend to be ongoing and are, therefore, described in the websites of both CGD and of the Community Earth System Model, CESM. The correspondence between the CGD contributions to NCAR Imperatives and the CGD mission statement is not coincidental, but reflects the central role of CGD within NCAR.

In order to give this FY2017 research some context, the following are some of the major events experienced by CGD over the year. Early in the year, NCAR/CGD received NSF supplemental funding to enable replacing the POP ocean component with MOM-6 in partnership with GFDL, to co-develop the sea-ice model CICE to be consistent with MOM-6 and state-of-the-art, and to configure the CISM land-ice model for Antarctica in addition to Greenland. This development started in FY 2017 with five new hires; a land-ice Senior Scientist (William Lipscombe) and Software Engineer II (Gunter LeGuy), an ocean modeling Scientist I (Scott Bachman), and Project Scientist I (Gustave Marques) and Software Engineer II (Apers Altuna), as well as a sea-ice Associate Scientist II (Alice DuVivier). In addition, three key existing positions are now supported through the supplemental; a sea-ice Associate Scientist IV (David Bailey), an ocean Associate Scientist III (Nancy Norton) and a land-ice Software Engineer III (Bill Sacks). There are now excellent development teams in place to take the ocean, sea-ice and land-ice models into the future.

CESM-2 was scheduled for release and to have begun CMIP-6 production runs by the annual CESM workshop in June 2017. However, at the workshop it became evident that with newly distributed CMIP-6 aerosol emissions, CESM-2 displayed peculiar behavior in twentieth century surface temperatures, compared to observations. By the end of the meeting all governing parties (e.g. NSF, NCAR, CESM SSC, the CESM Working Groups) agreed that CESM-2 release and CMIP-6 production should be delayed until this behavior was understood and rectified in a scientifically defensible way, even though a considerable amount of allocated computational resources would not be used. Almost immediately, a major effort sprung up with significant voluntary contributions. It has continued into FY 2018.

Unfortunately, the fiscal year closed on a negative note. The realities of at best flat funding continuing for a number of years forced NCAR to make difficult budget choices, including the elimination of base support for CGD’s Integrative Assessment Modeling (IAM) group.