Quick Facts about NCAR & UCAR

Short Descriptions (for longer ones, see About Us)
By the Numbers (staffing, expenditures)
NCAR's Supercomputers
Our Member Universities
Our History
Honors and Awards
NCAR's Mesa Lab
How to Pronounce EN-car or YOU-car

Short Descriptions




NCAR Director:
James Hurrell

The National Center for Atmospheric Research conducts collaborative research in atmospheric and Earth system science and provides a broad array of tools and technologies to the scientific community, including:


UCAR President:
Antonio J. Busalacchi

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is a consortium of more than 100 North American member colleges and universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences.

UCAR's primary activity is managing the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

UCAR also provides services to support, enhance, and extend the capabilities of the universities through its community programs and by advocating for strong federal science budgets on behalf of the geosciences community.

UCP Director:
Ying-Hwa (Bill) Kuo

UCAR Community Programs bring geoscience communities together to address large-scale, integrated research and education challenges. Activities include:

  • offering education and training services to weather forecasters, hydrologists, oceanographers,  environmental and social scientists, and students
  • developing and transferring technologies to meet research, education, and societal needs
  • supplying streaming data access, tools, and services
  • building and hosting community-initiated and -led projects
  • providing conference, workshop, travel, and program support

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  • NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation (NSF).

  • NCAR is an NSF Federally Funded Research and Development Center (more about FFRDCs).
    • NCAR is not a federal agency and its employees are not part of the federal personnel system.
    • Our activities complement those of the federal agencies and we work closely with them.

  • NCAR is managed by the nonprofit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research on behalf of NSF and the UCAR university community.

  • NCAR's Mesa Laboratory is federal property
    • The National Science Foundation owns the Mesa Lab and the land surrounding it, including the entry drive known as the mesa road or the NCAR road. 
    • The site is maintained by the nonprofit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which manages NCAR on behalf of NSF.
    • All City of Boulder agencies have jurisdiction to enforce local laws and ordinances on the property, including fire, police, emergency response, and Open Space and Mountain Parks.

  • Approximately 95% of funding comes from the federal government.

List of our major funders ›

To avoid confusion

There are many atmospheric research organizations in Boulder. To avoid confusion:

  • NCAR is not a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or of NOAA’s National Weather Service or any other federal agency.
  • Neither NCAR nor UCAR are part of the University of Colorado. However, the University of Colorado is 1 of more than 100 colleges and universities that govern UCAR.
  • NCAR does not issue public weather forecasts. Projections of future weather and climate produced by our computer models as part of ongoing research may be posted on our website for research and educational purposes.

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By the Numbers

Staff as of November 30, 2017



UCAR Community

All Staff
(research, technical, administrative, and support, including casuals)


~212 in UCAR administration/related services
~1,187 in Colorado
~142 other locations


Scientists (Ph.D.s, including tenure-track and project scientists)
Postdoctoral fellows and researchers (Ph.D.s)~63~37~26
Associate scientists (M.A., M.S., or Ph.D.)~109~84~25
Engineers and software engineers




UCAR Community

Fiscal Year 2017
(October 2016–September 2017)
~ $246.7 million~ 196.7 million~ $50 million

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NCAR's Supercomputers

NCAR is a world leader in supercomputing for the geosciences, providing services to NCAR researchers, UCAR member institutions in North America, and affiliates worldwide.

NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center  | NWSC Fact Sheet

More about high performance computing at NCAR

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About Our Members

The UCAR consortium consists of

  • 110 UCAR Members: North American colleges and universities granting degrees in atmospheric and related Earth system science, and
  • 52 International Affiliates

List of UCAR Members

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Our History

UCAR began as a consortium of research institutions with doctoral programs in the atmospheric and related sciences that first met in 1959. In 1960, after UCAR had been incorporated and Walter Orr Roberts selected as its first president, the UCAR Board of Trustees unanimously approved Boulder as the site for NCAR and gave Roberts a second title, inaugural director of NCAR. NCAR's first office opened in Boulder in June 1960.

More history ›

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Honors and Awards

Nobel Peace Prize - 2007
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. Sharing the IPCC recognition were scores of NCAR scientists who have served as authors or reviewers for the four assessment reports issued by the IPCC since 1990. Several NCAR scientists have played IPCC leadership roles, and UCAR technical staff have provided considerable administrative support. Research using the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model was cited heavily in the IPCC's 2007 report. 2007 Nobel Peace Prize news release >

Recognition by Scientific Societies
Numerous awards to NCAR and UCAR researchers for individual and team achievements have been made by the leading institutions in our field, including:

Society Presidents and Fellows

Eleven presidents of the AMS have been drawn from our staff, 17 have been elected fellows of the AAAS, 21 are fellows of the AGU, and over 50 have been made fellows of the AMS.

Honors & Awards ›

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NCAR and UCAR are headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, with most activity taking place on four campuses:

  • NCAR Mesa Laboratory and UCAR Fleischmann Building (southwest Boulder)
  • Center Green Campus (northeast Boulder)
  • Foothills Laboratory and Anthes Building (northeast Boulder)
  • Research Aviation Facility (Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport; Broomfield, Colorado)

Additional facilities in Wyoming, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C.:

  • The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) - Cheyenne, Wyoming
    • Operated by NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory.
  • Mauna Loa Solar Observatory (MLSO) - near Hilo, Hawaii
    • Operated by NCAR's High Altitude Observatory
  • UCAR Washington Office - Washington, D.C.
    • Operated by the UCAR President's Office

Our collaborations connect us to universities, labs, and private industry across the country and around the world.

maps & directions >

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NCAR's Mesa Lab


I.M. Pei was hired as architect and ground was broken on NCAR's Mesa Laboratory on June 9, 1964. NCAR's primary sponsor, the National Science Foundation, provided construction funds for the lab, which was completed in 1966. This Boulder landmark sits atop a 600-foot mesa above the city, against the dramatic Flatirons formation in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Pei based his design on an adaptation of the centuries-old Indian cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado.

The Mesa Lab's Visitor Center is open to the public daily. To learn more about our other campuses, see Locations, below.

Mesa Lab Facts & Figures

  • There are two buildings on the NCAR mesa
    • Mesa Laboratory
    • Fleischmann Building
  • Number of staff who work on site
    • 375 staff and visitors (out of the total NCAR|UCAR staff of about 1,400)
  • Facilities on site are constructed of concrete, stone, and glass
  • The Mesa Lab is federal property
    • The National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, owns the Mesa Lab and surrounding land
    • The site is maintained by the nonprofit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
    • All City of Boulder agencies have jurisdiction to enforce local laws and ordinances on the property, including fire, police, and Open Space and Mountain Parks.


The architecture of NCAR's Mesa Lab › (UCAR Center for Science Education)

Design and major components › (Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, architects)

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How to Pronounce NCAR or UCAR

Since the founding of our organization, these two acronyms have been pronounced as words rather than individual letters:

  • "EN-car"
  • "YOU-car"

Because they're pronounced as words, both are generally written without "the" before the acronym.

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Main Telephone Number

(303) 497-1000


P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000

Express Shipping & Deliveries

3090 Center Green Drive
Boulder, CO 80301


Maps & Directions

Media Relations

Organizational Structure

Public Tours, Exhibits, Hours

Staff Directory



Updated: October 2015