UCAR President's Office

UCAR congressional briefing highlights flood, drought prediction

WASHINGTON — The nation is poised to make major advances in "water intelligence" with more detailed forecasts of floods, streamflow, and potential drought conditions, a panel of experts said at a congressional briefing today.The briefing, sponsored by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), highlighted the new National Water Model, a comprehensive system for forecasting water resources from coast to coast. The technology underpinning the model, launched last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its collaborators at universities, the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, and the private sector."The new forecast model is really a quantum leap forward and will help safeguard Americans from major floods and other precipitation events," said UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi, who introduced the panel. "It bridges the gap between research and operations, generating real-time forecasts to help vulnerable communities and protect lives and property."UCAR manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation."Through a series of partnerships, it's possible to provide consistent, high-resolution, integrated water analyses, predictions, and data to address critical unmet information and service gaps," said Edward Clark, director of the Geo-Intelligence Office of Water Prediction at the NOAA National Water Center.Scientists generated this inundation forecast during Houston-area flooding earlier this year in a demonstration of  advanced computer modeling technology. (©UCAR. Image by David Gochis, NCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)Unlike past streamflow models, which provided forecasts every few hours and only for specific points along major river systems, the new system continuously simulates conditions at 2.7 million locations along rivers, streams, and their tributaries across the contiguous United States. It paves the way for the biggest improvement in flood forecasting in the nation's history."The National Water Model provides a different way of thinking about continental hydrology by providing a view of a connected plumbing network from the mountains to the ocean," said panelist Richard Hooper, executive director of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI). "Previously, hydrologists had considered river basins as discrete units rather than this river-continuum approach. This change in view opens up new areas of research that will improve our ability to predict not just floods but other aspects of water resources, including water quality and the impacts of droughts."Thanks to ongoing research, the National Water Model is expected to provide increasingly detailed street-level forecasts, inundation maps, and additional features such as water quality forecasts. Scientists are working on incorporating more processes, such as soil saturation and the amount of water drawn up by vegetation."By dramatically increasing the geographic coverage as well as the lead times for forecasts, the National Water Model is ushering in a new era in flood and flash flood forecasting," said John McHenry, chief scientist of advanced meteorological systems for Baron Services. "Business, industry, and the general public will benefit through reduction in lost lives and property."The panelists emphasized the importance of water resources to the major sectors of the U.S. economy. They warned that the nation is facing myriad water-related challenges ranging from growing demand to increasingly costly floods and droughts. Meeting those challenges will require continued coordination among research organizations, universities, the private sector, and federal, state, and local agencies."Beyond developing a new computer model, we're building a community by sharing resources, tools, and ideas," said NCAR scientist David Gochis. "The scientists are engaging with practitioners and decision makers to make the system as usable as possible."The development team at NCAR worked with scientists at NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and universities to adapt WRF-Hydro to serve as the first version of the National Water Model.The panelists also discussed the need for better water intelligence among diverse communities across the country. For example, Ryan Emanuel, associate professor at North Carolina State University's Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, noted that indigenous tribes across the nation are particularly vulnerable to drought and flooding for a range of cultural, historical, and economic reasons."Indigenous peoples across the United States are diverse, but one common theme is that water is sacred," said Emanuel, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. "It's not only critical for life, but it is life itself. Beyond the tools, the models, and the management lies the knowledge of the original inhabitants of this nation that water binds us all to a common fate."The event is the latest in a series of UCAR congressional briefings about critical topics in the Earth system sciences. Past briefings have focused on predicting space weather, aviation weather safety, the state of the Arctic, hurricane prediction, and potential impacts of El Niño.

Meet and Greet with Tony Busalacchi, UCAR President

Mark your calendars for a meet and greet session with UCAR President Tony Busalacchi. All staff are welcome to attend. This is an opportunity for you to meet Tony, hear about his background, and learn about his initial impressions as UCAR President.

Meet and Greet with Tony Busalacchi, UCAR President

Mark your calendars for a meet and greet session with UCAR President Tony Busalacchi. All staff are welcome to attend. This is an opportunity for you to meet Tony, hear about his background, and learn about his initial impressions as UCAR President.

Intellectual Property Protection for the Lab

Intellectual Property Protection for the Lab - a presentation by the UCAR Office of General Counsel.

Learn the difference between copyrights, trademarks and patents.  Understand how to protect your intellectual property and where to get help.

Export Brown Bag Lunch and Learn

Is Your Shipment Export Controlled?  Is Your Project In Compliance with Export Controls?"

This will be a Q&A format with open discussion open to all interested Staff.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Noon - 1:30 pm

FL2 - Room 1022 Main Seminar Room

Facilitated by ECCs, Logistics Staff and David Sundvall

How Boulder Became a World Center for Space and Atmospheric Science #1 - Boulder Bookstore

Published by the American Meteorological Society, A Scientific Peak chronicles the early stages of Boulder’s meteoric rise to become known as one of America’s smartest cities. Author Joseph P. Bassi introduces us to a wide variety of characters, including founding NCAR Director and UCAR President Walter Orr Roberts, and the serendipitous brew of politics, passion, and sheer luck that, during the post–World War II and Cold War eras, would transform this “scientific Siberia” into the research mecca it is today.

Board Chair Eric Betterton All-Staff Town Hall

Please join the UCAR Board of Trustees Chair Eric Betterton as he hosts an all-staff Town Hall meeting from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9.  All UCAR, NCAR, and UCP staff are encouraged to attend. The Town Hall will be held in the CG1 auditorium.  For staff who are unable to attend in person, the Town Hall will be webcast on  http://www.fin.ucar.edu/it/mms/cg-live-chat1.htm only (not UCARLive) and recorded.

Intellectual Property Protection for the Lab - A Presentation by the UCAR Office of General Counsel

Learn the difference between copyrights, trademarks and patents - Tuesday, July 14, 2015 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am in the Foothills Large Auditorium (1022).  For those who cannot attend in person, you may join us via real-time webcast or access the recorded presentation in the future.  

UCAR Foundation board targets commercialization of new research

BOULDER – Accelerating its focus on commercializing new research technologies, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Foundation is welcoming a new chair and two new members to its board of directors. New board member Steve Berens is founder of Boulder-based companies Clear Comfort Water and Energized Strategy and a veteran manager of high-technology start-ups. Eric Drummond joins the board with experience as partner in the Denver-based law firm of Fairfield and Woods and expertise in alternative energy, health IT, and other emerging technology issues. Board member Vivian Dullien, a Boulder-based entrepreneur with experience in commercializing medical products, is the newly elected board chair. “We have a great team in place whose members each bring unique business experience to the foundation, along with the ability to drive new technologies in atmospheric observing and forecasting to the marketplace,” said UCAR president Thomas Bogdan. “Our board members have their fingers on the pulse of groups across the country that will be interested in weather and climate technologies." The UCAR Foundation works to commercialize knowledge and technology developed at UCAR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which UCAR manages on behalf of the National Science Foundation. Examples of past commercialization of UCAR and NCAR research include: a wind energy forecasting system that has saved Xcel Energy ratepayers close to $40 million, specialized instrument packages known as dropsondes, which are released from aircraft to provide targeted, high-resolution soundings near storms or in remote regions. a software platform known as E-Hub, developed in conjunction with the University of Colorado Boulder, that enables on-demand creation of customizable curricula to individualize instruction in science and other subject areas. Dullien, who has served on the board for nine years, is an expert at bringing new technologies to market. A principal at Dullien Associates, she specializes in helping start-up medical companies commercialize their products. She also is principal advisor to several commercialization programs through Los Angeles-based Larta Institute. “I’m looking forward to guiding the board as we bring critical weather and climate science out of the lab and into the marketplace,” Dullien said. “Eric and Steve bring fresh perspectives and extensive networks as we move ahead.” Berens has more than 20 years of experience in strategy, marketing, sales and engineering. Before launching Clear Comfort Water and Energized Strategy, he co-founded and helped lead Power Tagging, a smart energy solutions company. “UCAR and NCAR are widely known for their scientific reputations,” said Berens. “Their expertise and the technologies they produce hold great relevance and deliver an incredible positive impact for future technology adoption.” Drummond has practiced business law and complex administrative litigation for more than 20 years, focusing his practice in emerging technology, digital health and sciences, and conventional and alternative energy issues. He has represented electric transmission developers; Smart grid, solar, biofuel, wind, and energy efficiency companies; as well as Health IT and major financial institutions. “UCAR and NCAR are crown jewels in America’s research portfolio,” Drummond said. “I’m excited to support their work furthering the atmospheric and Earth sciences and to help their research scientists translate their cutting-edge work into commercial enterprises.” The mission of the UCAR Foundation is to accelerate science in the service of society by commercializing UCAR and NCAR knowledge and technology, thereby amplifying the benefits of publicly supported science and creating an independent stream of revenue for UCAR. The UCAR Foundation's board roster can be found here.

Flipping the classroom paradigm

November 18, 2014 | The urge to transform higher education through online technology is making its way into atmospheric science. Benefits as well as pitfalls came to light as faculty on the front lines of experimentation shared notes in a UCAR-hosted forum on October 16. The session was part of a two-day meeting of heads and chairs of departments of atmospheric science, an event cosponsored every two years by the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. Part of the push behind the new techniques is to serve broader audiences. This is the prime motivation behind the massively open online courses (MOOCs) that have proliferated in the last three years across a wide a range of disciplines. But faculty are also trying new ways of connecting with in-residence students, as technology opens up possibilities well beyond the traditional stand-and-lecture model. The rise of MOOCs MOOCs typically allow students to sign up for free without prerequisites, with tens of thousands enrolled in the most popular MOOCs. In some cases, course credit can be earned if extra work is completed and tuition is paid. One of the key points emerging from research into MOOCs, and noted during the discussion at UCAR, is that technology is no panacea: careful design of meaningful learning interactions that take advantage of technology is still crucial for success. After an initial burst of interest and publicity, analysts have found that many MOOCs generate huge dropout rates and sometimes-mediocre learning outcomes. As noted in the New Media Consortium’s 2013 Horizon Report on higher education (PDF), some observers believe that the rapid growth of MOOCs has made it difficult to carefully analyze their impact and develop best practices. Clips from moderated panel discussions were a key part of the MOOC on climate science organized last summer by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. The 3- to 5-minute video clips originated from live webinars that included a chat function for viewer questions. (Image courtesy Anne Gold, CIRES.) “Time will settle those questions,” notes the report, “but there is no doubt that MOOCs have already had a significant influence on the future course of online learning, and deserve close attention, study, and continued experimentation.” Anne Gold (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES) led a prototype team-based MOOC this summer, Climate Science Connections: Water in the West. The course drew an international group of more than 500 participants, said Gold, who’s also experimenting with other techniques to bring climate science to groups of varying sizes using a mix of technologies. “The variety of people who participate in a MOOC is incredible—it makes it very interesting to teach in this format,” said Gold. “We had teachers, graduate students, professionals, interested public, water lawyers, policy makers, politicians, and fishermen, among others.” A few atmospheric science departments have dipped toes into the MOOC water, mainly in the realm of climate. Coursera, one of the leading MOOC companies, includes several courses related to climate and Earth-system processes in its catalog. Among the atmospheric scientists involved are David Archer (University of Chicago), David Karoly (University of Melbourne), Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Richard Somerville (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), and David Schultz (University of Manchester). The CIRES course above will move to Coursera next spring. For faculty who might be toying with the idea of creating a MOOC, Schultz advises that it’s no cake walk. “I did not appreciate how time-consuming it was to build a MOOC,” he said. “I thought I’d throw my lecture material on camera and that would be it.” Smoothing the way was support from his university, including funding specifically for the MOOC that allowed creation of a virtual field trip via Google Earth. “It allowed us to take students to places in the world that support the concepts discussed in lecture,” said Schultz. Given the questions that global climate raises on environmental, societal, and political fronts, the topic seems ripe to draw the large enrollments expected in MOOCs. In contrast, Coursera doesn’t currently have a single MOOC on introductory meteorology, much less higher-level topics. (As one of the forum attendees put it, “I don’t see how you take a thermodynamics class and make a MOOC out of it.”) Eric Snodgrass (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is developing an online MOOC covering severe and hazardous weather. (Photo courtesy UIUC.) Meteorology’s first major MOOC could be the one now being developed by Eric Snodgrass, who directs undergraduate studies in atmospheric science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He created an online version of the department’s longtime course in severe and hazardous weather; it was named the nation’s best online course of 2012 by the University Professional Continuing Education Association. Snodgrass is now working on visualizations and short video-driven lectures for a Coursera version of the online class, with an anticipated debut date of fall 2015. There’ll be plenty of high-interest material, including El Niño, tropical cyclones, blizzards, droughts, floods, and tornadoes. The course will train students of all ages to use radar and satellite imagery and computer model output to both observe and forecast extreme weather. “My goal is not only increased awareness and understanding of severe weather, but also a new or renewed passion for studying our amazing atmosphere,” said Snodgrass. Doing the flip Attracting the bulk of interest and discussion at the Boulder forum was the notion of “flipping” atmospheric science courses, an approach that’s gaining currency across large swaths of academia. In a flipped course, lectures are consumed by students outside of class through videos that can be stopped and started as needed; the classroom itself is devoted to discussion and problem-solving, with faculty on hand to help. Online assessments ensure that students have absorbed the video content before they come into the classroom. Flipping appears to hit a sweet spot, as it takes advantage of the ubiquity of video on tablets and smartphones while retaining manageably sized classes and in-person elements. A flipped class also gives professors a chance to work more closely, and more often, with students. “When you think about flipping, you really need to think about it as a course redesign,” said Kevin Perry (University of Utah). In order to carry this out, Perry and others stressed the need for faculty to consult university offices that are dedicated to online instruction. Drawing on research-honed strategies, these are often the best experts on campus in how to create a flipped class. Wendy Abshire and Tsvet Ross-Lazarov (UCAR's COMET Program) shared their perspectives on online learning practices with university department heads at an October 16 forum hosted by UCAR. (©UCAR. Photo by Bob Henson.) Several meteorology courses have been taught in flipped fashion over the last few years at the University of Oklahoma, including experimental usage of an active learning classroom, said OU’s David Parsons. “The most successful flipped courses seem to be in the area of programming, where instructor-created materials can supplement high-quality tutorials already available online,” Parsons added. Nolan Atkins discussed several meteorology classes being flipped for the first time this fall at Lyndon State University, including remote sensing, dynamics, and physical meteorology. “Student reaction before the implementation was mixed,” said Atkins. A few weeks into the process, though, many students have come around, and Atkins is feeling encouraged. He noted that flipping a course requires student buy-in, high-quality video, and hard work from faculty. The potential gains include more in-depth coverage of the course content and increased student mastery. “We’re moving away from a ‘sage on stage’ to a ‘guide by the side’,” noted Tsvet Ross-Lazarov, an instructional designer with UCAR’s COMET Program, who joined COMET senior manager Wendy Abshire at the forum. This autumn the program is testing a unique blend of in-person and online lectures, videos, animations, and student-run weather briefings, as COMET staff member Andrea Smith teaches Millersville University’s synoptic meteorology course through UCAR’s UVISIT program. Results will be presented in January at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. Daria Kluver, an assistant professor at Central Michigan University, teaches a flipped course on climate change. Key elements include the Blackboard learning management system, where lectures notes, assignments, and classroom work are posted, as well as a classroom tailor-made for interaction, where students can bring graphics for in-class analysis and interpretation. Web materials are also crucial for Keah Schuenemann (Metropolitan State University of Denver), whose students each analyze and write blog posts on the impacts that climate change is expected to bring to a particular nation. At Central Michigan University, students in Daria Kluver's "flipped" course on climate change take in video lectures on their own time and then meet to discuss course material in a high-tech classroom. (Photo courtesy Daria Kluver.) Kluver stresses the usefulness of CMU’s center for teaching, where she gained relevant expertise in both pedagogy and technology. She finds that a technology-rich workspace is vital in order to get the most out of flipped teaching, especially when you consider the background of today’s college-age student.“They’re millennials. They’ve spent their whole lives with gadgets in their hands.” Does it work? Flipping actually emerged from K-12 education (or “the swamp of practice,” as COMET’s Ross-Lazarov puts it, as opposed to the ivory tower of academia). The first well-documented flipped class took place in 2007 at Woodland Park High School near Colorado Springs. Does flipping make a difference? “The results from the K-12 world have been very encouraging,” says Ross-Lazarov. A report produced by Pearson, George Mason University, and the Flipped Learning Network includes several case studies hinting at increased engagement and higher test scores. However, the report acknowledges the dearth of rigorous, empirical research to date on flipped-learning outcomes. As for higher education, studies to date suggest that flipping might be best suited to smaller upper-level courses, where motivation and interest is high. “It seems that in introductory level courses, or in courses where there is little instructional need to flip the classroom, there were no significant differences between the mean test scores of students in flipped versus nonflipped classes,” said Ross-Lazarov. Given the right setting and the right material, he added, “flipping is an exciting development—it offers a lot of potential.” Dive Deeper Presentations at AGU/AMS Heads and Chairs Conference  Session 3: Best practices for balancing lecture-based, online content, flipped, online, and massive open online courses (pages 65–108). Download the PDF (large file, 13 MB) Writer/contact:Bob Henson, NCAR/UCAR Communications          

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