ASP Colloquia

For several decades, the ASP has hosted at least one 2-week colloquium every summer on an emerging science topic of interest to the NCAR community. The colloquia are designed for graduate students in new or rapidly developing areas of research for which good course materials may not yet be available. In recent years, the colloquia have had both a lecture component and a hands-on tutorial component. NCAR Scientific staff members in partnership with one or more university collaborators write proposals for colloquia topics, and in the event that their proposal is selected, organize the colloquium curriculum with logistical support provided by the ASP.  All ASP Colloquia include career development activities aimed at graduate students working toward the next step in their career.

This year the ASP was involved in two Colloquiua:

  1. Synthesis of Observations and Models in Studies of Shallow and Deep Clouds

  2. Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques

In 2018, the summer colloquium was titled Synthesis of Observations and Models in Studies of Shallow and Deep Clouds and was held June 4 – 15, 2017.  The chair of the organizing committee was Jeff Stith (NCAR) and the organizing committee members included Chris Bretherton (University of Washington), Chris Davis (NCAR), Bart Geerts (University of Wyoming), Andrew Gettelman (NCAR), Vanda Grubisic (NCAR), Rebecca Haacker (NCAR), Jorgen Jensen (NCAR), Greg McFarquhar (University of Oklahoma), James Moore (NCAR), Hugh Morrison (NCAR), Robert Rauber (University of Illinois), Valerie Sloan (NCAR).  Cloud processes, such as precipitation formation, are among the most challenging research frontiers aimed at improving weather and climate predictions, as they must cover a variety of time and space scales for different cloud types. The colloquium introduced students to this frontier by exposing them to examples of current state of the art models aimed at different scales of simulation, together with recent field research that were targeted at improving the representation of cloud processes in these models. This colloquium included 25 advanced graduate students who listened to lectures from experts on: Airborne and ground based measurements (both in situ and remote), field campaign data collection and project/data management, characteristics of numerical models at various scales, and recent research results using models and observations. Students then examined  data from recent field campaigns together with corresponding numerical model output, under the mentorship of experts in model development and observational research. Numerical model output from both small scale and global models (the System for Atmospheric Modeling for large eddy simulation, the Weather Research and Forecasting model, and the Community Earth System Model) was provided for students to compare to observations. The students worked together in teams on projects which they then presented to the larger group. Students were also able to take a trip to the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station and to see working instruments collecting important high altitude data at 10,000 ft elevation. Student were evaluated after the workshop and were extremely positive about what they learned and how the colloquium will impact their careers.

Group photo of the students and organizers for Synthesis of Observations and Models in Studies of Shallow and Deep Clouds

The ASP hosted a second two-week colloquium in FY2018 in the fall season (September 24, 2018 - October 5, 2018)  titled Solar Spectropolariemtry and Diagnostic Techniques. Co-sponsorship for this colloquium came from the NCAR High Altitude Observatory, the NSF-Funded National Solar Observatory (NSO) and from additional funds supplied directly by the National Science Foundation.  The colloquium was organized by Rebecca Centeno (NCAR) and Claire Raftery (NSO). The polarized spectrum of the Sun encodes a wealth of information on the thermodynamic and magnetic properties of its atmosphere, which ultimately drive all phenomena of Space Weather affecting the Earth and near-Earth environment. In order to unveil this valuable information, scientists must perform critically sensitive spectro-polarimetric observations of the Sun, and then carefully reduce, analyse, and interpret the observed data. However, all the aspects involved in this effort (theory, modeling, instrumentation, data analysis) constitute a highly specialized craft, which is notoriously difficult to master.  The two-week fall colloquium presented a comprehensive overview of the field of solar spectropolarimetry, and the the various tools and methods necessary for decoding the polarization of the solar spectrum. The first week of the school equipped the participants with the basic knowledge of how polarization is produced in the Sun and how it is measured with our instruments. Students learned both about theories and learned about the typical optical devices and instrumentation techniques that enable the measurement of the Sun’s polarized spectrum. During the second week, students learned how the theoretical and modeling concepts acquired during the first week are used in practice to extract information about the physical conditions of the Sun’s atmosphere. Students then worked on projects with small teams culminating in a presentation of their project on the last day.  

Group photo of the students and organizers for Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques

Group photo of the students and organizers for Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques