UCAR Annual Award Nominations

Listed below are the UCAR 2012 Outstanding Accomplishment Award Nominations.  Please note that if there was only one nomination received in a particular category, that single nomination will not be included below. 

We hope you will join us on Friday, December 14th beginning at 3:00 pm for the all-staff Annual Holiday party, the announcement of the new NCAR Distinguished Scholar and winners for these UCAR internal awards as well as our external award winners.  And don't forget the fabulous food our Events Services will be dishing up as well as The Nacho Men band!  Please plan on attending and bringing your family.  You won't want to miss this special event.

 2012 Outstanding Accomplishment Award Nominations

Publication Nominations

Bruce Lites (HAO), Masahito Kubo (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Hector Socas-Navarro (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias), Thomas Berger (National Solar Observatory), Zoe Frank (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Richard Shine (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Ted Tarbell (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Alan Title (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Kiyoshi Ichimoto (Kyoto University), Yukio Katsukawa (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Saku Tsuneta (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Yoshinori Sematsu (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Toshifumi Shimizu (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science), and Shinich Nagata (Kyoto University)
Lites, B.W.; M. Kubo, H. Socas-Navarro, T. Berger, Z. Frank, R. Shine, T. Tarbell, A. Title, K. Ichimoto, Y. Katsukawa, S. Tsuneta, Y. Suematsu, T. Shimizu, S. Nagata, 2008:  The horizontal magnetic flux of the quiet-sun internetwork as observed with the Hinode Spectro-Polarimeter.  The Astrophysical Journal, 672, 1237-1253.

Solar magnetism is key to understanding solar activity and variability.  This highly cited paper has overturned 40 years of accepted wisdom regarding the nature of the magnetic field as it emerges through the surface of the Sun (the photosphere).  This paper presents a very careful analysis and a deeply insightful physical interpretation of a series of observations performed by Bruce Lites and colleagues using the Solar Optical Telescope Spectro-Polarimeter on board the Hinode spacecraft.  These observations have demonstrated incontrovertibly for the first time the ubiquitous presence of small-scale horizontal magnetic fields in the quiet Sun photosphere.  This result has important implications for our understanding of the emergence of magnetic flux through the solar photosphere, its connection with the convection-driven local dynamo at the solar surface, and for the study of the dynamics and energetics of the entire solar atmosphere, from the lower photosphere, through the chromosphere, and into the solar corona.

Junhong Wang and Liangying Zhang (both from ISF/EOL)
Wang, J., Zhang, L. Morrison, 2008:  Systematic errors in global radiosonde precipitable water data from comparisons with ground-based GPS measurements.  Journal of Climate, 21, 2218-2238.

For over 70 years, radiosonde measurements have played a critical role in weather prediction, investigations of climate change, and advancing the basic understanding of the atmosphere.  These measurements provide a long-term record of the atmosphere from the surface to well into the stratosphere, which can be used to study climate change.  However, the use of radiosonde data in climate studies has been limited, in part because sensor characteristics have varied substantially over time and location due to different manufacturers and changes in technology over time.  This has led to significant systematic errors within the global, long-term record, especially for humidity observations.  This paper provides a new way to investigate and quantify three sources of systematic error in radiosonde humidity data on a global scale:  the specific measurement biases for each of the more than 15 different types of radiosonde used in the global radiosonde network; biases caused by technology changes over time; and biases caused by sampling at fixed times once or twice daily.  This research has important implications for climate and weather, both operationally and scientifically.

Thomas Karl (NESL/ACD), Peter Harley (NESL/ACD), Louisa Emmons (NESL/ACD), Brenda Thornton (University of Northern Colorado - UNC), Alex Guenther (NESL/ACD), Chhandak Basu (UNC), Andrew Turnipseed (NESL/ACD), and Kolby Jardine (University of Arizona)
Karl, T., P. Harley, L. Emmons, B. Thornton, A. Guenther, C. Basu, A. Turnipseed, and K. Jardine, 2010:  Efficient atmospheric cleansing of oxidized organic trace gases by vegetation.  Science, 330, 816-819. 

The paper shows that deciduous plants absorb far more pollution than previously thought.  The research uses observations, gene expression studies, and computer modeling to show that vegetation can play an unexpectedly large role in cleansing the atmosphere.  The findings presented come as a surprise and connect separate scientific communities across atmospheric, biological, and chemical science fields.  A unique, diverse group consisting of atmospheric scientists, plant physiologists, and molecular biologists were able to tackle a complex biogeochemical problem and study the impact on the atmosphere; the scientific significance is already demonstrated by the high ISI citation rate (27 times in two years).

George Bryan and Rich Rotunno (both from NESL/MMM)
Bryan, G.H. and R. Rotunno , 2009:  Evaluation of an analytical model for the maximum intensity of tropical cyclones.  J. Atmos. Sci., 66, 3042-3060.

Accurately predicting maximum wind speeds in hurricanes (more generally known as tropical cyclones) is an important and unresolved problem.  Bryan and Rotunno fundamentally extended a theory for the intensity of hurricanes and thereby resolved discrepancies between theory, observations, and numerical simulations.  They called upon careful numerical simulations, detailed and original analysis of those simulations, and fundamental results from atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics.  The paper is notable for exceptionally clear and insightful exposition and for the creativity and originality of its analysis.  It has already become an essential reference related to hurricane intensity and is widely cited. 

Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo (both from NESL/CGD)
Trenberth, T., J. Fasullo, and J. Kiehl, 2009:  Earth’s global energy budget.  Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 90, 311-323.

A global warming trend since the 1970s has apparently slowed over the most recent ten years despite the continuing build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (due primarily to the burning of fossile fuels).  Warming of the planet is caused by a small yet persistent imbalance between the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth and the outgoing flow of thermal (infra-red) radiative energy constantly emanating from our planet to space:  if more energy is arriving than leaving, then the climate heats up.  To understand the exact value of the imbalance and how it changes over time requires a detailed assessment of the flows of energy arriving from space, how this energy radiates through and is transported by the atmosphere, and how and where it is taken up by the surface ocean and moved around by ocean currents and also stored sometimes deep below the sea surface.  This paper accomplishes this assessment in an exemplary manner as it stands the test of time and has led to many subsequent studies and changes in the way the science has evolved.

Matthias Steiner (RAL/HAP), Richard Bateman (CU), Daniel Megenhardt (RAL/WSAP), Yubao Liu (RAL/NSAP), Mei Xu (RAL/HAP), Matthew Pocernich (Neptune and Company, Inc.) and Jimmy Krozel (Metron Aviation)
Steiner, M., R. Bateman, D. Megenhardt, Y. Liu, M. Xu, M. Pocernich, and J. Krozel, 2010:  Translation of ensemble weather forecasts into probabilistic air traffic capacity impact.  Air Traffic Control Quarterly, 18 (3), 229-254.

This article presents an elegant, highly innovative, and broadly influential conceptual framework for using probabilistic forecasting to characterize and manage the risk that weather poses to air traffic.  The framework is demonstrated through a case study of a very disruptive and costly outbreak of thunderstorms in the northeastern United States.  Beyond just this demonstration, the framework has the potential to transform how our society conceives, builds, uses, and evaluates weather-based decision-support technologies.  Several letters of support highlight the framework’s extensibility – NOAA’s Robert Maxson calls it “the [probabilistic forecast] guidance of the future.”  Although published less than three years ago, the article has already advanced technology that is being used at NOAA’s Aviation Weather Testbed.  Experts in probabilistic forecasting and risk management describe the article as a “ground breaker” and “a well-written roadmap to both the scientific community and user community on where we as a nation should be headed in ensemble weather prediction research and operations.”  The article embodies the finest qualities of the work done in RAL:  imaginative; cross-disciplinary; cross-organizational; and beneficial to communities of scientists, engineers, and end-users.  It also epitomizes NCAR’s overarching mission of science in service to society.

Scientific and/orTechnical Advancement Nominations

Dan Marsh (NESL/ACD) and Aaron Ridley (University of Michigan)
Dan and Aaron were chairs of the Whole Atmosphere Working Group (WAWG) from the period of 2008-2011.  They led the effort to transform the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) from a specialized research model to a widely used climate model.  One ambitious aspect of the development was to couple the WACCM atmospheric model to the ocean, ice, and land surface models of the Community Earth System Model so that it could be used for climate prediction and analysis studies.  This effort was successful technically and has had a strong scientific impact within and beyond NCAR.  The evidence that the middle atmosphere affects the evolution of climate is now incontrovertible.

Bob Barron (RAL/AAP), Al Yates (RAL/AAP), Cory Morse (RAL/AAP), Deirdre Garvey (RAL/AO), Larry Cornman (RAL/AAP), Kent Goodrich (RAL/AAP), Steve Cohn, (EOL/ISF), Marcia Politovich (RAL/AAP), Al Rodi (University of Wyoming), Paul Prestopnik (RAL/WSAP), Andrew Weekley (RAL/HAP), Gary Cunning (RAL/WSAP), Aaron Braeckel (RAL/AAP), Inger Barron (RAL/AO), Tor Mohling (RAL/AO), Jeff Stolte (RAL/AO), and Wes Wilson (RAL/AAP)
Although Juneau is the capital of Alaska, the city is only accessible by air or sea.  Safe, reliable air transportation is therefore critical but difficult to achieve given Juneau’s location at the end of the Gastineau Channel with mountains on either side of the water.  Severe turbulence induced by this complex terrain has led to a number of incidents and near-accidents at the airport and frequently resulted in the closure of runways when wind speeds were judged to be hazardous.  In response to concerns for safety and the need for greater operational efficiency, the Federal Aviation Administration sought help from NCAR in 1996 to determine the feasibility of creating and implementing a wind hazard warning system.  When early studies showed that significant improvements could be made, a full-scale research, development, and technology transfer program was initiated.  Early efforts focused on understanding local meteorology as well as the specific nature of turbulence in the airport environment.  Observational data were critical to this effort, and thus anemometers and wind profilers were acquired and deployed, and instrumented research aircraft were flown to collect data in three field programs.  Field project data were used to develop algorithms to turn sensor data into real-time warnings that are provided to users in displays specifically designed to help them make decisions regarding safe flight.  Following extensive evaluations by the FAA, the agency certified the Juneau Airport Winds System (JAWS) as a fully operational turbulence warning system in July 2012.  This is the first FAA-approved terminal-area turbulence warning system to be deployed in the U.S.

David Rogers (EOL/RAF), Kurt Zrubeck (EOL/RAF), Mark Lord (EOL/RAF), Steve Rauenbuehler (EOL/RAF), Dave Allen (EOL/DFS), Robert Olson (EOL/RAF), Robert Beasley (EOL/RAF), Brent Kidd (EOL/RAF), Jason Morris (EOL/RAF), John Cowan (EOL/RAF), Greg Bruning (EOL/RAF), Amy Smith (UCAR F&A), Jorgen Jensen (EOL/RAF), Pavel Romashkin (EOL/RAF), Allen Shanot (EOL/RAF), Jeff Schubert (EOL/RAF), and the GAC Test-Flight and Certification Teams
As delivered to NCAR, the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V (GV) aircraft – the High-Altitude Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) had reinforced attachment points below the wings that are capable of carrying loads of 1200 pounds at each location.  However, there was no structure connected to those attachment points and no knowledge of how something large mounted under wings might affect the performance of the aircraft.  To develop HIAPER research capabilities, the nominated team designed, constructed, and secured certification for large under-wing instrument pods.  HIAPER is the first GV aircraft in the world certified to carry such under-wind pods.  The enhanced HIAPER capability to carry instruments under its wings, provided by the full under-wing configuration of two large and eight small pods, should serve the community’s needs for decades to come.

Jeff Anderson, Nancy Collins, Tim Hoar, Hui Liu, Kevin Raeder (all from CISL/IMAGe), and Glen Romine (NESL/MMM)
Data Assimilation (DA) is the process of combining observations with models.  DA is the cornerstone of modern weather prediction, but it is also an essential tool for improving models, designing observing systems, and understanding the physical world.  However, the extreme difficulty and cost of building DA systems meant that most NCAR models had no DA capability at the start of the 21st century.  This critical shortcoming has been rectified by the development of the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART), a unique community software facility that provides DA for a growing list of more than a dozen major geophysical models, including nearly all NCAR community models.  Using innovative algorithms and creative software engineering, DART provides state-of-the-art DA tools that empower the scientific progress of model users, model developers, and observational scientists.  Its impact has been widespread, with downloads by users in 48 UCAR member universities and 360 other organizations, resulting in dozens of research papers published every year.  In addition, DART is a teaching tool used at many universities and for DART community tutorials to train a cadre of early career scientists in DA methods.  The impact on atmospheric and related sciences has been transformative, ranging from improvements in the prediction of tropical storms, to decadal climate predictions in the Community Earth System Model.  DART also unites a growing research community of DA experts and users, facilitating collaborations that are accelerating the development of enhanced DA algorithms for all applications.

Cindi Bradley (EOL/DFS), Greg Card (HAO), Vince Grow (EOL/DFS), Alice Lecinski (HAO), Chris Mahan (EOL/DFS), John Mickey (RAL/AAP), Pete Nelson (HAO), Steve Palmer (EOL/DFS), Karl Schwenz (EOL/DFS), Scott Sewell (HAO), Jim Strieby (EOL/DFS), Rich Summers (HAO), Lee Sutherland (HAO), Andy Watt (EOL/RAF), Bart Woodiel (EOL/DFS), and Qian Wu (HAO)
The HiWind balloon mission produced unprecedented measurements of thermospheric winds that are not observable from the ground during daytime.  The innovative instrumentation, and its implementation on a balloon gondola platform, demonstrated that high altitude balloon missions can fill a valuable role supplementing ground based observational networks and expensive space missions that cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than comparable balloon missions.  Engineers and scientists in the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) and the Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) collaborated on a complex development effort, culminating in a science flight out of Esrange, newr Kiruna, Sweden, in June 2011, and recovery near Resolute Bay, Canada.  This nomination honors the NCAR team that designed and built the instrument and gondola, enabling breakthrough observations of thermospheric winds and temperatures. 

Education and Outreach Nominations 

Becca Hatheway (Spark), Joan Burkepile (HAO), Don Kolinski (HAO), Mark Miesch (HAO), Linda Carbone (formerly EO), Greg Card (HAO), Rebecca Centeno Elliott (HAO), Yuhong Fan (HAO), Ben Foster (HAO), Susan Foster (formerly EO), Sarah Gibson (HAO), Lance Jones (HAO), Alice Lecinski (HAO), Gang Lu (HAO), Ron Lull (HAO), Dave Maddy (UCAR FM&S), Astrid Maute (HAO), Ryan McVeigh (Spark), Art Richmond (HAO), and Randy Russell (Spark)
This nomination recognizes the outstanding efforts by a team of scientists and staff at the High Altitude Observatory, the UCAR Science Education Program (Spark), and UCAR Facilities, Management and Sustainabilty (FM&S) to design, build, and display the Sun-Earth Connections exhibit at the Mesa Laboratory.  Since its inauguration in the fall of 2011, the Sun-Earth Connections exhibit has attracted thousands of visitors of various ages.  The exhibit is now a focal point of NCAR/UCAR education and public outreach tours.  The colorful mural, shining graphic panels, touch screens, and interactives are the products of their commitment and dedication, including countless hours that team members put into this project.

Andrew Gettelman, David Lawrence, David Bailey, Barbara Ballard, Susan Bates, Richard Neale, Adam Phillips, Christine Shields, Cecile Hannay, and Brian Kauffman (all from NESL/CGD)
The Community Earth System Model (CESM) Tutorial Team exhibited outstanding efforts in organizing and hosting three annual tutorials for graduate students, postdocs, and other researchers.  The CESM tutorial served approximately 100 students per year, which corresponds to over 300 students over the last three years, with many hundreds more reached via distance learning on the Internet and through transfer of knowledge to other students in their home institution research groups.  The individuals who have attended the CESM tutorials are drawn from the greater science community and will be the next generation of climate modeling scientists.

Dennis Shea (NESL/CGD), Mary Haley (CISL/TDD), and Dave Brown (CISL/TDD)
NCAR Command Language (NCL) is an open source, interpreted programming language designed specifically for the analysis and visualization of geoscientific data.  It is developed and supported by staff in CISL/TDD, with scientific consulting support from staff in NELS/CGD.  The NCL workshop program provides specific training in the use of NCL, along with more general training in the area of programming and fundamentals of scientific data analysis and visualization in the Earth system sciences.  These workshops directly address NCAR’s mission to “support, enhance, and extend the capabilities of the university community and the broader scientific community – nationally and internationally” and have been a highly successful, multi-year international community capability building effort, reaching students and researchers worldwide.  The analysis of large, complex data is a rapidly growing and well-recognized challenge in our community, and this unique training program is aimed at advancing our ability to meet it.


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Monday, December 3, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012