News Releases

UCAR maintains A+ long-term credit rating

BOULDER — The A+ long-term bond rating for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has been affirmed by the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P).The A+ rating reflects UCAR's role as a leading organization supporting atmospheric and earth-system science, and its ability to increase its financial strength, S&P stated in the report last month.UCAR, a consortium of more than 100 colleges and universities, manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The organization has an annual budget of more than $200 million.The Anthes Building in Boulder houses UCAR's administrative staff. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)In its report, S&P cited a number of UCAR's strengths: financial flexibility, stable membership, longstanding relationship with NSF, manageable debt, and solid operating performance.Melissa Miller, UCAR vice president of finance and administration, said the organization works hard to maintain a high credit rating, which translates into lower costs for its funders.Bonds have been issued over the years to procure and equip facilities."UCAR is vigilant in taking the necessary steps to ensure continued sound fiscal management amid a frequently changing financial landscape," Miller said.

Expanding Antarctic sea ice linked to natural variability

BOULDER — The recent trend of increasing Antarctic sea ice extent — seemingly at odds with climate model projections — can largely be explained by a natural climate fluctuation, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study offers evidence that the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), which is characterized by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific, has created favorable conditions for additional Antarctic sea ice growth since 2000. The findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, may resolve a longstanding mystery: Why is Antarctic sea ice expanding when climate change is causing the world to warm? The study's authors also suggest that sea ice may begin to shrink as the IPO switches to a positive phase. "The climate we experience during any given decade is some combination of naturally occurring variability and the planet's response to increasing greenhouse gases," said NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study. "It's never all one or the other, but the combination, that is important to understand." Study co-authors include Julie Arblaster of NCAR and Monash University in Australia, Cecilia Bitz of the University of Washington, Christine Chung of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and NCAR scientist Haiyan Teng. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR. On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers (about 7.7 million square miles) for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. (Image courtesy NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr) Expanding ice The sea ice surrounding Antarctica has been slowly increasing in area since the satellite record began in 1979. But the rate of increase rose nearly five fold between 2000 and 2014, following the IPO transition to a negative phase in 1999. The new study finds that when the IPO changes phase, from positive to negative or vice versa, it touches off a chain reaction of climate impacts that may ultimately affect sea ice formation at the bottom of the world. When the IPO transitions to a negative phase, the sea surface temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific become somewhat cooler than average when measured over a decade or two. These sea surface temperatures, in turn, change tropical precipitation, which drives large-scale changes to the winds that extend all the way down to Antarctica. The ultimate impact is a deepening of a low-pressure system off the coast of Antarctica known as the Amundsen Sea Low. Winds generated on the western flank of this system blow sea ice northward, away from Antarctica, helping to enlarge the extent of sea ice coverage. “Compared to the Arctic, global warming causes only weak Antarctic sea ice loss, which is why the IPO can have such a striking effect in the Antarctic," said Bitz. "There is no comparable natural variability in the Arctic that competes with global warming.” Sifting through simulations To test if these IPO-related impacts were sufficient to cause the growth in sea ice extent observed between 2000 and 2014, the scientists first examined 262 climate simulations created by different modeling groups from around the world. When all of those simulations are averaged, the natural variability cancels itself out. For example, simulations with a positive IPO offset those with a negative IPO. What remains is the expected impact of human-caused climate change: a decline in Antarctic sea ice extent. But for this study, the scientists were not interested in the average. Instead, they wanted to find individual members that correctly characterized the natural variability between 2000-2014, including the negative phase of the IPO. The team discovered 10 simulations that met the criteria, and all of them showed an increase in Antarctic sea ice extent across all seasons. "When all the models are taken together, the natural variability is averaged out, leaving only the shrinking sea ice caused by global warming," Arblaster said. "But the model simulations that happen to sync up with the observed natural variability capture the expansion of the sea ice area. And we were able to trace these changes to the equatorial eastern Pacific in our model experiments." Scientists suspect that in 2014, the IPO began to change from negative to positive. That would indicate an upcoming period of warmer eastern Pacific Ocean surface temperatures on average, though year-to-year temperatures may go up or down, depending on El Niño/La Niña conditions. Accordingly, the trend of increasing Antarctic sea ice extent may also change in response. "As the IPO transitions to positive, the increase of Antarctic sea ice extent should slow and perhaps start to show signs of retreat when averaged over the next 10 years or so," Meehl said. About the article Title: Antarctic sea-ice expansion between 2000 and 2014 driven by tropical Pacific decadal climate variability Authors: Gerald A. Meehl, Julie M. Arblaster, Cecilia M. Bitz, Christine T. Y. Chung, and Haiyan Teng Publication: Nature Geoscience, DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2751 WriterLaura Snider, Senior Science Writer and Public Information Officer

Future summers could regularly be hotter than the hottest on record

BOULDER — In 50 years, summers across most of the globe could regularly be hotter than any summer experienced so far by people alive today, according to a study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).  If climate change continues on its current trajectory, the probability that any summer between 2061 and 2080 will be warmer than the hottest on record is 80 percent across the world's land areas, excluding Antarctica, which was not studied. If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, however, that probability drops to 41 percent, according to the study. "Extremely hot summers always pose a challenge to society," said NCAR scientist Flavio Lehner, lead author of the study. "They can increase the risk for health issues, but can also damage crops and deepen droughts. Such summers are a true test of our adaptability to rising temperatures." The study, which is available online, is part of an upcoming special issue of the journal Climatic Changethat will focus on quantifying the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Swiss National Science Foundation. If greenhouse gas emissions remain unabated. virtually every summer between 2061-2080 could be hotter than any in the historical record. (Image is in the public domain.) Simulating a range of summers The research team, which includes NCAR scientists Clara Deser and Benjamin Sanderson, used two existing sets of model simulations to investigate what future summers might look like. Both had been created by running the NCAR-based Community Earth System Model 15 times, with one assuming that greenhouse gas emissions remain unabated and the other assuming that society reduces emissions. The Community Earth System Model is funded by NSF and the U.S. Department of Energy. The simulations were run on the Yellowstone system at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center. By using simulations that were created by running the same model multiple times, with only tiny differences in the initial starting conditions, the scientists could examine the range of summertime temperatures we might expect in the future for the "business-as-usual" and reduced-emissions scenarios. "This is the first time that the risk of record summer heat and its dependence on the rate of greenhouse gas emissions has been so comprehensively evaluated from a large set of simulations with a single state-of-the-art climate model," Deser said. The scientists compared the results to summertime temperatures recorded between 1920 and 2014 as well as to 15 sets of simulated summertime temperatures for the same historic period. By simulating past summers — instead of relying solely on observations — the scientists established a large range of temperatures that could have occurred naturally under the same conditions, including greenhouse gas concentrations and volcanic eruptions. "Instead of just comparing the future to 95 summers from the past, the models give us the opportunity to create more than 1,400 possible past summers," Lehner said. "The result is a more comprehensive and robust look at what should be considered natural variability and what can be attributed to climate change." Emissions cuts could yield big benefits The scientists found that between 2061 and 2080, summers in large parts of North and South America, central Europe, Asia, and Africa have a greater than 90 percent chance of being warmer than any summer in the historic record if emissions continue unabated. This means that virtually every summer would be as warm as the hottest to date. In some regions, the likelihood of summers being warmer than any in the historical record remained less than 50 percent, but in those places — including Alaska, the central U.S., Scandinavia, Siberia, and continental Australia — summer temperatures naturally vary a great deal, making it more difficult to detect the impact of climate change. Reducing emissions would lower the global probability that future summers will be hotter than any in the past, but the benefits would not be spread uniformly. In some regions, including the U.S. East Coast and large parts of the tropics, the probability would remain above 90 percent, even if emissions were reduced. But it would be a sizable boon for other regions of the world. Parts of Brazil, central Europe, and eastern China would see a reduction of more than 50 percentage points in the chance that future summers would be hotter than the historic range. Since these areas are densely inhabited, a large part of the global population would benefit significantly from climate change mitigation. “We've thought of climate change as 'global warming'; among what matters is how this overall warming affects conditions that hit people where they live,” said Eric DeWeaver, program director in NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funds NCAR.  “Extreme temperatures pose risks to people around the globe. These scientists show the power of ensembles of simulations for understanding how these risks depend on the level of greenhouse gas emissions.” Lehner recently published another study looking at the overlay of population on warming projections. “It's often overlooked that the majority of the world's population lives in regions that will see a comparably fast rise in temperatures," he said.  About the article Title: Future risk of record-breaking summer temperatures and its mitigation Authors: Flavio Lehner, Clara Deser, and Benjamin M. Sanderson Publication: Climatic Change, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-016-1616-2 Writer:Laura Snider, Senior Science Writer

3D-printed weather stations fill gaps in developing world

BOULDER — Scientists have successfully installed the first wave of low-cost weather stations that are designed to provide critically needed information to farmers and other residents in developing countries. The stations are built largely with 3D-printed parts that can be easily replaced if they wear out in the field. They were created by weather experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its managing entity, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). The first five stations, newly installed in Zambia, are beginning to transmit information about temperature, rainfall, winds, and other weather parameters. These measurements and the resulting forecasts can provide weather information for local subsistence farmers deciding when to plant and fertilize crops. They can also alert communities about floods and other potential disasters. A newly installed weather station at the Salvation Army's College of Biomedical Sciences in Chikankata, Zambia. The sensor on the left (with the funnel) is a specially designed tipping bucket rain gauge; the vertical, vented cylinder on the vertical arm of the station is a radiation shield containing temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors; and the horizontal cylinder protruding out the back contains a single-board computer. A wind vane (left), solar light sensor (middle), and three-cup wind anemometer (right) are mounted on the upper arm.  The station is powered by a single solar panel and a backup battery. (©UCAR. Photo by Martin Steinson. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) "It’s a major opportunity to provide weather information that farmers have never had before," said NCAR scientist Paul Kucera, one of the project leaders. "This can literally make the difference when it comes to being able to feed their families." The scientists will next explore the need for low-cost weather stations in other developing countries. The project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the U.S. National Weather Service. “The bottom line is that 3D-printing will help to save lives,” said Sezin Tokar, a hydrometeorologist with U.S. AID. “Not only can they provide countries with the ability to more accurately monitor for weather-related disasters, the data they produce can also help reduce the economic impact of disasters.” Lack of observations Like many developing countries, Zambia does not have detailed forecasts, partly because weather stations are scarce. The density of stations in Africa is eight times lower than recommended by the World Meteorological Organization. Building out a network can be prohibitively expensive, with a single commercial weather station often costing $10,000 to $20,000, plus ongoing funding for maintenance and replacing worn-out parts. To fill this need, UCAR and NCAR scientists have worked for years to come up with a weather station that is cheap and easy to fix, and can be adapted to the needs of the host country. The resulting stations are constructed out of plastic parts that are custom designed and can be run off a 3D printer, along with off-the-shelf sensors and a basic, credit card-sized computer developed for schoolchildren. Total cost: about $300 per station. Best of all, the host country can easily print replacement parts. "If you want a different kind of wind direction gauge or anemometer, or you just need to replace a broken part, you can just print it out yourself," said project co-lead Martin Steinson of UCAR. "Our role is to make this as accessible as possible. This is entirely conceived as an open-source project." Building out a network Working with the Zambian Meteorological Department and other agencies, Kucera and Steinson installed the first stations earlier this year—three next to radio stations that will broadcast the information to local communities, one by a rural hospital, and one by the headquarters of the meteorological department. The meteorological office will take over the project later this year, with a goal of building out a network of 100 weather stations across Zambia. They will also have the 3D printers, materials, and training to maintain or upgrade the network. The weather station measurements are accessible to local meteorologists and also transmitted over wireless networks in real time to NCAR. After all the weather stations have been installed, scientists will develop a system of one- to three-day regional forecasts for Zambia using the NCAR-based Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) computer model. The forecasts, in addition to helping farmers and other residents, can also alert the country to the threat of impending floods or other weather-related disasters. The system will ultimately be transferred to the Zambian Meteorological Department to run the forecasts. "The objective of the project is to transfer the technology so this will be run by Zambia," Kucera said. Once the technology has been established in Zambia, Kucera and Steinson will turn to other nations that need additional weather stations, such as in Africa or the Caribbean. In addition to improving local forecasts, the additional observations can eventually make a difference for forecasts globally because computer models everywhere will have additional information about the atmosphere. "We’re hearing a lot of interest in using this technology in other countries," Kucera said. "It’s really quite a return on investment." Writer:David Hosansky, Manager of Media Relations

UCAR to support EarthCube: Cyberinfrastructure will advance science

BOULDER – EarthCube, a landmark initiative to develop new technological and computational capabilities for geosciences research, will be supported by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) under a new agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Created by NSF in 2011, EarthCube aims to help researchers across the geosciences from meteorology to seismology better understand our planet in ways that can strengthen societal resilience to natural events. More than 2,500 EarthCube contributors – including scientists, educators, and information professionals – work together on the creation of a common cyberinfrastructure for researchers to collect, access, analyze, share, and visualize all forms of data and related resources. "EarthCube offers the promise to advance geoscience research by creating and delivering critical new capabilities,” said UCAR scientist Mohan Ramamurthy, principal investigator and project director of the new EarthCube office at UCAR. "This is a great opportunity for UCAR to leverage its successful track record in managing large scientific projects that advance our understanding of the planet," said Michael Thompson, interim UCAR president. "The EarthCube project offers the potential to significantly benefit society by helping scientists use the power of diverse big datasets to better understand and predict the natural events, from severe storms to solar disturbances, that affect all of us." EarthCube is designed to foster collaborations across the geosciences. The technology helps scientists in different disciplines better understand the far-reaching influences of natural events, such as how major storms like Sandy (above) affect coastal and inland flooding. This unique view of Sandy was generated with NCAR's VAPOR visualization software, based on detailed computer modeling. (©UCAR. Visualization by Alan Norton, NCAR, based on research by NCAR scientists Mel Shapiro and Thomas Galarneau. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use. Click here for higher resolution.) UCAR will administer the day-to-day operations of EarthCube under the three-year, $2.8 million agreement with NSF. The EarthCube science support office, currently funded through an NSF grant to the Arizona Geological Survey in Tucson, Arizona, will move to UCAR's Boulder offices starting this month. EarthCube is designed to help researchers across the geosciences address the challenges of understanding and predicting the complexity of the Earth system, from the geology and topography to the water cycle, atmosphere, and space environment of the planet. This approach is critical for improved understanding of the environment and better safeguarding society. In order to better predict the potential effects of a landfalling hurricane on inland mudslides, for example, scientists from multiple disciplines, including meteorology, hydrology, geography, and geology, need a common platform to work together to collect observations, ingest them into advanced computer models of the Earth system, and analyze and interpret the resulting data. "The EarthCube Science Support Office will help us find and share the data geoscientists collect and use to answer critical science questions about the Earth," said Eva Zanzerkia, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences. Ramamurthy said UCAR is well positioned to help EarthCube meet its goals, since UCAR provides technological support to the geosciences community, including its 109 member universities. UCAR has been involved with EarthCube since NSF launched the initiative. "Currently researchers are spending an enormous amount of time on routine tasks because there is no data system, database, or data infrastructure where they can get all the information they need in some kind of a uniform way from a single interface," Ramamurthy said. "If EarthCube can facilitate the integration of data from multiple domains in a way that is easier and faster, and if there is interoperability in terms of standards for data to be input into a common environment, then integration becomes more easily possible." UCAR is a nonprofit consortium of more than 100 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 (NCAR) on behalf of NSF, NCAR’s sponsor. UCAR also oversees a variety of education and scientific support activities under the umbrella of the UCAR Community Programs, which will administer EarthCube.

NCAR to open multimedia exhibit on climate change

BOULDER – The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) next month is unveiling a major new exhibit about climate change. The multimedia displays at NCAR’s Mesa Lab will constitute what is believed to be the region’s largest permanent exhibit dedicated to climate change.  It will highlight the workings of our climate system, how scientists study it, and the potential impacts of warming temperatures and altered precipitation patterns on society and the environment. “Our goal is to provide the public with an engaging and scientifically accurate forum to learn about climate change, which is perhaps the signature environmental challenge of our time,” said Becca Hatheway, exhibits manager at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which manages NCAR. The touchscreens, audio recordings, activities, and artistically designed panels will entirely replace a more text-oriented exhibit that dated from 2003. This artist's rendition highlights part of the climate exhibit. The first section of the exhibit (right) provides an overview of Earth's climate system. The interactive display (left) allows visitors to explore how future levels of greenhouse gas emissions will affect heat waves. (Illustration by Condit Exhibits.) Although climate change can be a grim subject, the exhibit also aims to leave visitors with a sense of hope. It includes a major section that helps guide visitors through choices they can make, such as consuming less electricity or gas, which can have implications for climate change.  “We don’t want visitors leaving the exhibit feeling nothing but doom and gloom,” Hatheway said. The exhibit, housed in NCAR’s landmark Mesa Lab in south Boulder, will be free to the public. The Mesa Lab draws about 100,000 visitors a year to its exhibits on weather, the Sun, supercomputing, and other topics related to the atmospheric sciences. From climate basics to choosing our future The exhibit will be divided into five sections, each designed with input from NCAR scientists. The sections provide an overview of our climate system, the influence of greenhouse gases, the techniques that scientists use to study climate, the impacts of climate change on society and ecosystems, and strategies for reducing our carbon footprint and adapting to a changing climate. One of the highlights is an interactive exhibit called “Shifting the Weather Odds.” Using balls that drop into different slots, visitors will be able to see how higher emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to extreme heat waves occurring more frequently. Another interactive exhibit, “Choose our Future,” will enable visitors to select activities such as the use of lower-carbon building materials and see how that would affect global temperatures by century’s end. In addition, the exhibit will feature a touchscreen with “Community Stories”—recordings of people across the country sharing observations about local climate change and what they're doing about it. Visitors eventually will be able to upload their own stories. “It’s really important to have these first-person accounts,” Hatheway said. “Climate change is something that affects all of us in different ways.” Exhibits manager Becca Hatheway examines new climate displays.(©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky. This photo is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) Condit Exhibits is building and installing the exhibit. NCAR Senior Scientist Jeffrey Kiehl, who provided guidance during the planning process, said the exhibit can help adults and children alike learn more about climate change. “This is a wonderful project," he said. "It not only conveys the scientific seriousness of climate change, but perhaps more importantly shows some of the ways we can take on the challenge of addressing the issue.” Explore climate online Climate Learning Zone (UCAR Center for Science Education)

Antonio Busalacchi named president of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

BOULDER—Dr. Antonio (Tony) J. Busalacchi was named the next president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) today, following an extensive international search. He joins UCAR from the University of Maryland, where he is professor of atmospheric and oceanic science and director of the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. Busalacchi will join UCAR on Aug. 1. “Tony Busalacchi is an exceptional scientist and leader with a breadth of experience that will be especially important as UCAR extends its role as a leader and advocate for Earth system science,” said Dr. Eric Betterton of the University of Arizona, who chairs the UCAR Board of Trustees. UCAR is a nonprofit consortium made up of more than 100 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 (NCAR) on behalf of the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor. UCAR also oversees a variety of education and scientific support activities under the umbrella of the UCAR Community Programs. Research at UCAR/NCAR advances understanding of severe weather, climate, geomagnetic storms, and other environmental factors that have significant impacts on society in the United States and overseas, including the global economy. This work helps to improve prediction of these phenomena and strengthen national and global resilience to them. Antonio Busalacchi has been named as the next president of UCAR. Click here for a higher-resolution image. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) “It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be selected to lead UCAR,” Busalacchi said. “Building on a long history of weather, water, and climate research, UCAR/NCAR has enormous potential to be the world’s leading institution in Earth system science across basic research, education and training, and science in support of society. I’m excited to lead the organization into a new era in partnership with NCAR Director James Hurrell and our university member community.” In his current position at the University of Maryland, Busalacchi leads an interdisciplinary research center encompassing meteorology, oceanography, geology, and geography to investigate how the land, oceans, and atmosphere react with and influence one another. Busalacchi has held numerous scientific leadership positions over the last three decades. He has chaired or co-chaired many committees for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and its National Research Council (NRC) as well as the World Climate Research Programme. He has served on the NAS Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) since 2003 and led BASC as chair from 2009–2014. He has extensive knowledge and experience working with the key government science agencies in Washington, D.C., and he has a comprehensive understanding of the federal funding environment. He has also frequently testified before Congress regarding the value of weather, water, and climate research. “The search committee for the new UCAR president was extremely impressed with the high caliber of applicants for the position, despite the great challenge this presented us in making a selection,” said UCAR Trustee Dr. Everette Joseph, director of the Atmospheric Science Research Center at SUNY Albany and chair of the search committee. “Tony’s broad experience in leading interdisciplinary organizations that span fundamental and applied research as well as demonstrating leadership in our community, experience in Washington, and vision for the future of UCAR and Earth system sciences, are all an excellent fit for UCAR going forward.” “Throughout his career, Tony has demonstrated superb leadership and management of scientific programs,” Hurrell said. “I’ve had the privilege of interacting with Tony in his capacity as a trustee on the UCAR board since 2014 and through his service to NCAR while serving on advisory and review panels, as well as on several national and international science planning efforts. Now I look forward to working closely with him to advance the mission of NCAR.” Prior to joining the University of Maryland faculty in 2000, Busalacchi led the Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center (1991–2000) and the laboratory's Oceans and Ice Branch (1988-1990). Busalacchi is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Earlier this year, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He earned his master's and Ph.D. in oceanography and bachelor of science in physics from Florida State University. He is author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed papers related to atmosphere-ocean interactions.  Busalacchi will take the helm from NCAR Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Michael Thompson, who has served as interim president of UCAR since July 2015. Previously Dr. Thomas Bogdan served as president from 2012 to 2015. External comments on the selection of Busalacchi Dr. Mark Abbott, President and Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:“Tony has long been an acknowledged leader in Earth system science. He will bring a new level of energy and insight to UCAR. His extensive experience in all facets of our science, and his ability to work across the diverse membership of UCAR will be a significant asset. I am very pleased to work with Tony as we advance Earth system science for UCAR." Dr. Waleed Abdalati, Director, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences:"Tony has long been a thoughtful and visionary leader of atmospheric and oceanic research, and I am delighted he will be joining the Boulder community. The scientific expertise he brings to the position, coupled with his understanding and organizational leadership in the national and international arenas, will serve UCAR well. I very much look forward to working with him on advancing our nation’s environmental research capabilities." Dr. Gilbert Brunet, Director, Meteorological Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Former Chair of the World Weather Research Programme Scientific Steering Committee, World Meteorological Organization (WMO):“It is with great pleasure I congratulate Tony for his selection as next UCAR President. I met Tony for the first time when he was  chair of the World Climate Research Programme. Together we have valued, developed, and continuously supported the close links needed between the weather and climate communities to face the growing number of joint Earth-system prediction challenges. From these sustained efforts important international research activities bridging the weather and climate communities have been initiated like the WMO Subseasonal to Seasonal and Polar Prediction Project initiatives. Tony’s vision of seamless weather-climate science will put on a solid basis UCAR future and contribution to society.” Dr. Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, College Park; and Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health; Former Director, National Science Foundation:"Tony and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time. He is kind, generous, and a brilliant scientist. We have published together and his insights and sharp intellect have always brought clarity and focus to the research. Tony Busalacchi is a splendid leader and will serve UCAR very well. I am delighted for him in this new recognition and responsibility and will look forward to his newest successes. Congratulations, Tony! Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice President for Research, University of Oklahoma:“Tony brings to the UCAR presidency a wealth of experience; strong community engagement; and a broad, international perspective on Earth system sciences research and education. I am pleased he accepted this wonderful opportunity to serve and look forward to working with him.” David Grimes, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Meteorological Service of Canada; President of the World Meteorological Organization:"I was pleased to hear of Dr. Busalacchi’s appointment as UCAR President. As an international partner, I have always valued the relationship with UCAR, particularly the COMET program, which is an excellent distance training program from which many meteorologists around the world have benefitted. I also look forward to furthering our cooperation with NCAR over the coming years under his leadership. Tony’s excellent academic credentials and international experience give me great confidence that he will serve the meteorological community well. I look forward to working closely with Tony in his new position." Dr. Thomas Karl, Director, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction:"My first reaction, when I learned that UCAR had selected Professor Tony Busalacchi as President, was that UCAR surely had a wise search and selection process. Tony has been a national and international leader in ocean and atmospheric science for many years.  I have seen his dedication to work well-beyond institution boundaries at the National Academies, the World Climate Research Programme, agency advisory committees and more. UCAR has selected a brilliant leader, and we all will benefit immensely." Vice Admiral (retired) Conrad Lautenbacher Jr., former U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:"I was thrilled to learn that Tony was selected as the next president of UCAR. He is an exceptional talent, combining proven leadership skills with scientific excellence and management successes in a variety of relevant settings from university lecture halls to the halls of government." Dr. Margaret Leinen, Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, University of California San Diego; Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography:“Tony is an incredible scientist and community leader. He has demonstrated a unique ability to seamlessly traverse academic and governmental arenas to advance science. He comes to UCAR at a critical time, and I look forward to working with him to encourage closer collaboration among ocean, earth and atmospheric scientists." Robert S. Marshall, Founder & CEO, Earth Networks, Inc.:“For many years, Tony has been instrumental in facilitating and promoting the development of strong collaborative research and development activities among the academic and commercial weather sectors.  He is the right choice to lead UCAR into the future and we eagerly anticipate working with both he and the distinguished member institutions he represents to advance technology infusion into our nation’s economy through a vibrant and expanding public-private partnership.” Dr. Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief, Science journals; President-elect, National Academy of Sciences:“Tony Busalacchi is an inspired choice to lead UCAR at this critical juncture. His distinguished career of service through committees of the National Academy of Sciences and long list of relevant publications in Science and top journals of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society are testimony to his understanding of the issues at the interface of science and policy. He has a reputation for strategically building institutions and guiding programs. UCAR is fortunate to have leadership of his caliber at a time when strong science voices are needed to guide sound decisions that affect everyone on the planet.” Dr. Berrien Moore III, Dean, College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences, University of Oklahoma; Vice President, Weather & Climate Programs; Director, National Weather Center:“We are delighted by the selection of Professor Anthony Busalacchi to lead UCAR as the next president into the future. Tony has the scientific, intellectual, and encompassing vision and strength of person that are necessary to chart and execute the voyage, which will meet the challenges facing our society and our planet. Well Done!" Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Seventh District, Colorado:"I am pleased Dr. Busalacchi agreed to lead UCAR at such an important time for our weather enterprise.  Tony brings with him the experience necessary to capitalize on the best government, industry, and academia can offer to improve our scientific capabilities and understanding. I look forward to UCAR’s continued success under Tony’s leadership." Congressman Jared Polis, Second District, Colorado:“Congratulations to Dr. Busalacchi on his recent appointment to be President of UCAR. Not only are we excited to have such a bright leader at the helm of UCAR, but also look forward to the contribution he’ll make to our community.” Robert Ryan, Past President, American Meteorological Society:"My heartfelt congratulations to Tony as the next President of UCAR. He is the perfect person to lead UCAR at such a critical time for our atmospheric sciences and the importance of support for understanding science, critical funding for the sciences and science education. I know everyone and every segment of the atmospheric, oceanic and hydrological sciences will benefit under his leadership of UCAR." Dr. Christopher Scolese, Director, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:"Tony is an inspirational leader and great scientist who will be a fantastic president of UCAR. All of us at Goddard look forward to working with Dr. Busalacchi in his new position and continuing our productive relationship with UCAR." Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere; Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration"Tony is an excellent choice to lead UCAR. He has deep understanding of the critical scientific issues of the day and he's an astute leader. Tony's awareness of the community dynamics and his excellent relationship with other leaders will serve UCAR and the broader environmental scientific community very effectively. I'm sure we will all benefit greatly from the insights, knowledge and perspectives he will bring." Rear Admiral (retired) David Titley, Professor of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University; Founding Director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk:“Dr. Busalacchi is an outstanding choice as the next UCAR President. His combination of strategic vision, superb academic credentials, and deep knowledge of how Washington works will serve the weather enterprise well in this dynamic time.  I look forward to working with Tony in his new position.” Dr. Louis Uccellini, Director, National Weather Service:"Tony Busalacchi has throughout his career covered the entire spectrum of Earth System Sciences and also has  worked tirelessly to engage the larger community in important reviews of the research and research to operations enterprise. The NWS is excited and looks forward to continuing our partnership with UCAR under Tony's leadership as we work to build a Weather Ready Nation." Rear Admiral Jonathan White, U.S. Navy Oceanographer and Navigator; Director, Space and Maritime Domain Awareness:“Given his diverse background and unparalleled expertise, I can’t imagine there is a better individual anywhere to take on this important leadership position.  To better understand and address the challenges that face our planet’s changing ocean, atmosphere, and climate, the scientific communities that represent these interrelated earth systems must closely collaborate in the days ahead. Tony is the perfect person to help lead that collaboration, and I look forward to working with him to that end.” Dr. John Zillman, former President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and former President of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS):“Tony Busalacchi’s appointment as UCAR President is great news for international meteorology and for the  broader reaches of  Earth system science. As Chair of the WMO-IOC-ICSU World Climate Research Programme, he provided outstanding international leadership of climate research and, in my time with the Global Climate Observing System  and Global Framework for Climate Services, his energy, wisdom and commitment to collaboration made the international climate science scene a genuine  model  of international cooperation. I am sure that, under his presidency, UCAR will continue to provide outstanding international leadership in our field."  

Widespread loss of ocean oxygen to become noticeable in 2030s

BOULDER — A reduction in the amount of oxygen dissolved in the oceans due to climate change is already discernible in some parts of the world and should be evident across large regions of the oceans between 2030 and 2040, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Scientists know that a warming climate can be expected to gradually sap the ocean of oxygen, leaving fish, crabs, squid, sea stars, and other marine life struggling to breathe. But it's been difficult to determine whether this anticipated oxygen drain is already having a noticeable impact. "Loss of oxygen in the ocean is one of the serious side effects of a warming atmosphere, and a major threat to marine life," said NCAR scientist Matthew Long, lead author of the study. “Since oxygen concentrations in the ocean naturally vary depending on variations in winds and temperature at the surface, it's been challenging to attribute any deoxygenation to climate change. This new study tells us when we can expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural variability." The study is published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor. Deoxgenation due to climate change is already detectable in some parts of the ocean. New research from NCAR finds that it will likely become widespread between 2030 and 2040. Other parts of the ocean, shown in gray, will not have detectable loss of oxygen due to climate change even by 2100. (Image courtesy Matthew Long, NCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)   Cutting through the natural variability The entire ocean—from the depths to the shallows—gets its oxygen supply from the surface, either directly from the atmosphere or from phytoplankton, which release oxygen into the water through photosynthesis. Warming surface waters, however, absorb less oxygen. And in a double whammy, the oxygen that is absorbed has a more difficult time traveling deeper into the ocean. That's because as water heats up, it expands, becoming lighter than the water below it and less likely to sink. Thanks to natural warming and cooling, oxygen concentrations at the sea surface are constantly changing—and those changes can linger for years or even decades deeper in the ocean. For example, an exceptionally cold winter in the North Pacific would allow the ocean surface to soak up a large amount of oxygen. Thanks to the natural circulation pattern, that oxygen would then be carried deeper into the ocean interior, where it might still be detectable years later as it travels along its flow path. On the flip side, unusually hot weather could lead to natural "dead zones" in the ocean, where fish and other marine life cannot survive. To cut through this natural variability and investigate the impact of climate change, the research team—including Curtis Deutsch of the University of Washington and Taka Ito of Georgia Tech—relied on the NCAR-based Community Earth System Model, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. The scientists used output from a project that ran the model more than two dozen times for the years 1920 to 2100 on the Yellowstone supercomputer, which is operated by NCAR. Each individual run was started with miniscule variations in air temperature. As the model runs progressed, those tiny differences grew and expanded, producing a set of climate simulations useful for studying questions about variability and change. Using the simulations to study dissolved oxygen gave the researchers guidance on how much concentrations may have varied naturally in the past. With this information, they could determine when ocean deoxygenation due to climate change is likely to become more severe than at any point in the modeled historic range. The research team found that deoxygenation caused by climate change could already be detected in the southern Indian Ocean and parts of the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic basins. They also determined that more widespread detection of deoxygenation caused by climate change would be possible between 2030 and 2040. However, in some parts of the ocean, including areas off the east coasts of Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia, deoxygenation caused by climate change was not evident even by 2100. Picking out a global pattern The researchers also created a visual way to distinguish between deoxygenation caused by natural processes and deoxygenation caused by climate change. Using the same model dataset, the scientists created maps of oxygen levels in the ocean, showing which waters were oxygen-rich at the same time that others were oxygen-poor. They found they could distinguish between oxygenation patterns caused by natural weather phenomena and the pattern caused by climate change.  The pattern caused by climate change also became evident in the model runs around 2030, adding confidence to the conclusion that widespread deoxygenation due to climate change will become detectable around that time. The maps could also be useful resources for deciding where to place instruments to monitor ocean oxygen levels in the future to get the best picture of climate change impacts. Currently ocean oxygen measurements are relatively sparse. "We need comprehensive and sustained observations of what's going on in the ocean to compare with what we're learning from our models and to understand the full impact of a changing climate," Long said. About the article Title: Finding forced trends in oceanic oxygenAuthors: Matthew C. Long, Curtis Deutsch,and Taka ItoJournal: Global Biogeochemical Cycles Writer:Laura Snider, Senior Science Writer and Public Information Officer

Ocean temps predict U.S. heat waves 50 days out, study finds

BOULDER — The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summertime heat waves in the eastern half of the United States up to 50 days in advance, according to a new study led by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).  The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water butting up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week—or even on a particular day—can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is. The research is being published in the journal Nature Geoscience. "Summertime heat waves are among the deadliest weather events, and they can have big impacts on farming, energy use, and other critical aspects of society," said Karen McKinnon, a postdoctoral researcher at NCAR and the lead author of the study. "If we can give city planners and farmers a heads up that extreme heat is on the way, we might be able to avoid some of the worst consequences." The research was largely funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor. In addition to McKinnon, the research team includes Andrew Rhines, of the University of Washington; Martin Tingley, of Pennsylvania State University; and Peter Huybers, of Harvard University. A fingerprint on the ocean For the study, the scientists divided the country into regions that tend to experience extreme heat at the same time. The scientists then focused on the largest of the resulting blocks: a swath that stretches across much of the Midwest and up the East Coast, encompassing both important agricultural areas and heavily populated cities.  Top: Sea surface temperature anomalies in the mid-latitude Pacific 50 days in advance of June 29, 2012. The pattern inside the green box resembled the Pacific Extreme Pattern, indicating that there would be an increase in the odds of a heat wave in the eastern half of the United States at the end of June. (Image courtesy of Karen McKinnon, NCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) Bottom: June 29, 2012, was the hottest day of the year in the eastern United States. The hot temperatures in late June and early July were part of an extraordinarily hot summer that saw three heat waves strike the country. (Map courtesy of the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center.) The research team looked to see if there was a relationship between global sea surface temperature anomalies—waters that are warmer or cooler than average—and extreme heat in the eastern half of the U.S. Right away, a pattern popped out in the middle of the Pacific, above about 20 degrees North latitude. The scientists found that the particular configuration of ocean water temperatures, which they named the Pacific Extreme Pattern, was not only found when it was already hot in the eastern U.S., but that it tended to form in advance of that heat. "Whatever mechanisms ultimately leads to the heat wave also leaves a fingerprint of sea surface temperature anomalies behind," McKinnon said. Improving seasonal forecasts To test how well that fingerprint could predict future heat, the scientists used data collected from 1,613 weather stations across the eastern U.S. between 1982 and 2015, as well as daily sea surface temperatures for the same time period. The scientists defined extreme heat in the eastern U.S. as a summertime day when the temperature readings from the warmest 5 percent of weather stations in the region were at least 6.5 degrees Celsius (11.7 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than average. The scientists only looked at extreme heat during that region’s 60 hottest days of the year: June 24 through Aug. 22. The researchers "hindcasted" each year in the dataset to see if they could retrospectively predict extreme heat events—or lack of those events—during that year's summer, using only data collected during the other years as a guide. At 50 days out, the scientists were able to predict an increase in the odds—from about 1 in 6 to about 1 in 4—that a heat wave would strike somewhere in the eastern U.S. during a given week. At 30 days out or closer, the scientists were able to predict an increase in the odds—to better than 1 in 2 for a particularly well-formed pattern—that a heat wave would strike on a particular day. This new technique could improve existing seasonal forecasts, which do not focus on predicting daily extremes. Seasonal forecasts typically predict whether an entire summer is expected to be warmer than normal, normal, or cooler than normal. For example, the seasonal forecast issued for the summer of 2012 predicted normal heat for the Northeast and Midwest. But, the summer ended up being especially hot, thanks to three major heat waves that struck in late June, mid-July, and late July. When the science team used the Pacific Extreme Pattern to hindcast 2012, they were able to determine as early as mid-May that there were increased odds of extremely hot days occurring in late June. The hottest day of the summer of 2012, as measured by the technique used for this study, was June 29, when the warmest 5 percent of weather stations recorded temperatures that were 10.4 degrees Celsius (18.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. "We found that we could go back as far as seven weeks and still predict an increase in the odds of future heat waves," McKinnon said. “What’s exciting about this is the potential for long-range predictions of individual heat waves that gives society far more notice than current forecasts.” Looking ahead Scientists do not yet know why the fingerprint on sea surface temperatures in the Pacific predicts heat in the eastern U.S. It could be that the sea surface temperatures themselves kick off weather patterns that cause the heat. Or it could be that they are both different results of the same phenomenon, but one does not cause the other. To learn more about how the two are connected, McKinnon is working with colleagues at NCAR to use sophisticated computer models to try and tease apart what is really happening. The study's findings also point toward the possibility that the Pacific Extreme Pattern, or a different oceanic fingerprint, could be used to forecast other weather events far in advance, including cooler-than-average days and extreme rainfall events. “The results suggest that the state of the mid-latitude ocean may be a previously overlooked source of predictability for summer weather,” McKinnon said. About the article Title: Long-lead predictions of eastern United States hot days from Pacific sea surface temperaturesAuthors: Karen McKinnon, Andrew Rhines, Martin Tingley, and Peter HuybersJournal: Nature Geoscience Writer:Laura Snider, senior science writer and public information officer

Potential Zika virus risk estimated for 50 U.S. cities

BOULDER – Key factors that can combine to produce a Zika virus outbreak are expected to be present in a number of U.S. cities during peak summer months, new research shows. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, will likely be increasingly abundant across much of the southern and eastern United States as the weather warms, according to a new study led by mosquito and disease experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Summertime weather conditions are favorable for populations of the mosquito along the East Coast as far north as New York City and across the southern tier of the country as far west as Phoenix and Los Angeles, according to computer simulations conceived and run by researchers at NCAR and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Spring and fall conditions can support low to moderate populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in more southern regions of its U.S. range. Wintertime weather is too cold for the species outside southern Florida and southern Texas, the study found. By analyzing travel patterns from countries and territories with Zika outbreaks, the research team further concluded that cities in southern Florida and impoverished areas in southern Texas may be particularly vulnerable to local virus transmission. Many U.S. cities face potential risk in summer of low, moderate, or high populations of the mosquito species that transmits Zika virus (colored circles). The mosquito has been observed in parts of the United States (shaded portion of map) and can establish populations in additional cities because of favorable summertime meteorological conditions. In addition, Zika risk may be elevated in cities with more air travelers arriving from Latin America and the Caribbean (larger circles). For a high-resolution map, click here or on the image. (Image based on data mapped by Olga Wilhelmi, NCAR GIS program. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) "This research can help us anticipate the timing and location of possible Zika virus outbreaks in certain U.S. cities,” said NCAR scientist Andrew Monaghan, the lead author of the study. “While there is much we still don’t know about the dynamics of Zika virus transmission, understanding where the Aedes aegypti mosquito can survive in the U.S. and how its abundance fluctuates seasonally may help guide mosquito control efforts and public health preparedness.” “Even if the virus is transmitted here in the continental U.S., a quick response can reduce its impact,” added NCAR scientist Mary Hayden, a medical anthropologist and co-author of the study. Although the study does not include a specific prediction for this year, the authors note that long-range forecasts for this summer point to a 40–45 percent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures over most of the continental United States. Monaghan said this could lead to increased suitability for Aedes aegypti in much of the South and East, although above-normal temperatures would be less favorable for the species in the hottest regions of Texas, Arizona, and California. Monaghan stressed that, even if Zika establishes a toehold in the mainland United States, it is unlikely to spread as widely as in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is partly because a higher percentage of Americans live and work in air-conditioned and largely sealed homes and offices. The study is being published today in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Currents Outbreaks. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR’s sponsor. It was co-authored by scientists at NASA, North Carolina State University, Maricopa County Environmental Services Vector Control Division, University of Arizona, and Durham University. Spreading rapidly First identified in Uganda in 1947, the Zika virus has moved through tropical regions of the world over the past decade. It was introduced into Brazil last year and spread explosively across Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 20 countries now facing pandemics. About 80 percent of infected people do not have significant symptoms, and most of the rest suffer relatively mild flu- or cold-like symptoms that generally clear up in about a week. However, scientists are investigating correlations between contracting the disease during pregnancy and microcephaly, a rare birth defect characterized by an abormally small head and brain damage. To determine the potential risk in the mainland United States, the research team ran two computer models that simulated the effect of meteorological conditions on a mosquito’s entire lifecycle (egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages) in 50 cities in or near the known range of the species. Monaghan and several team members have studied Aedes aegypti for years because it also carries the viruses that cause dengue and chikungunya. Generally, the mosquitoes need warm and relatively stable temperatures, as well as water-filled containers such as buckets, barrels, or tires, for their eggs to hatch. Once a mosquito bites an infected person, it also needs to live long enough – probably a week or more, depending on ambient temperatures – for the virus to travel from the mosquito's mid-gut to its salivary glands. Once in the saliva, the virus can then be transmitted by the mosquito biting another person. The study results show that, as springtime weather warms, the potential abundance of the mosquito begins to increase in April in the Southeast and some Arizona cities. By June, nearly all of the 50 cities studied have the potential for at least low-to-moderate abundance, and most eastern cities are suitable for moderate-to-high abundance. Conditions become most suitable for mosquito populations in July, August, and September, although the peak times vary by city. Weather conditions in southern and western cities remain suitable as late as November. Even some cities where the Aedes aegypti mosquito has not been detected, such as St. Louis and Denver, have suitable midsummer weather conditions for the species if it were introduced via transport of used tires or by other human activities, according to the computer models. The researchers stressed that additional factors outside the scope of the study could affect populations of the species, such as mosquito control efforts, competition with other mosquito species, and the extent to which eggs can survive in borderline temperatures. The study noted that northern cities could become vulnerable if a related species of mosquito that is more tolerant of cold temperatures, Aedes albopictus, begins to carry the virus. This animation shows the varying extent to which meteorological conditions can favor populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, in 50 U.S. cities throughout the year. Red dots represent high-abundance conditions, orange represents medium-to-high, yellow represents low-to-medium, and gray represents no significant mosquito population. (Animation based on data from Andrew Monaghan, NCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) Factoring in travel, poverty In addition to looking at meteorological conditions, the researchers studied two other key variables that could influence the potential for Zika outbreaks: travel from Zika-affected areas and socioeconomic conditions in states that may face abundant mosquito populations. To analyze air travel, the team estimated the number of passengers arriving into U.S. cities on direct flights from airports in 22 Latin American countries and territories listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Zika travel advisory as of January 29. Cities that had both high potential numbers of Aedes aegypti and a large volume of air travelers included Miami, Houston, and Orlando. Since the scientists were able to obtain passenger numbers for direct flights only, they could not estimate the number of passengers continuing on to smaller cities. They noted that the summertime peak in air travel coincides with the peak season in mosquito abundance. The study also estimated that nearly five times as many people cross the U.S.-Mexico border per month than arrive by air in all 50 cities. This could indicate a high potential for transmission in border areas from Texas to California, although the Zika virus has not been widely reported in northern Mexico. Those border areas, as well as other parts of the South where the mosquitoes are expected to be abundant, have a high percentage of households living below the poverty line, according to 2014 U.S. Census data analyzed by the research team. Lower-income residents can be more exposed to mosquito bites if they live in houses without air conditioning or have torn or missing screens that enable mosquitoes to enter their homes more easily. However, Aedes aegypti populations tend to thrive in densely populated urban areas, while some of the most impoverished areas are rural. “The results of this study are a step toward providing information to the broader scientific and public health communities on the highest risk areas for Zika emergence in the United States,” said Kacey Ernst, an epidemiologist at the University of Arizona and co-author of the study. “We hope that others will build on this work as more information becomes available. All areas with an environment suitable to the establishment of Aedes aegypti should be working to enhance surveillance strategies to monitor the Aedes aegypti populations and human populations for disease emergence.” “This research highlights the complex set of human and environmental factors that determine whether a mosquito-borne disease is carried from one area to another, and how severely it affects different human populations,” said Sarah Ruth, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. “By integrating information on weather, travel patterns, mosquito biology, and human behavior, the project team has improved our ability to forecast, deal with, and possibly even prevent future outbreaks of Zika and other serious diseases.” About the article Title: On the seasonal occurrence and abundance of the Zika virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti in the contiguous United States Authors: Andrew Monaghan, Cory Morin, Daniel Steinhoff, Olga Wilhelmi, Mary Hayden, Dale Quattrochi, Michael Reiskind, Alun Lloyd, Kirk Smith, Christopher Schmidt, Paige Scalf, and Kacey Ernst Journal: PLOS Currents Outbreaks

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