News

Five new trustees join UCAR's board

BOULDER — Five new trustees are taking their seats this week on the board of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).The five new trustees are: Susan Avery, president emerita of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Raymond Ban, managing director of Ban & Associates; Shuyi Chen, professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami; Sherri Goodman, senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and Harlan Spence, director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. Each was elected by UCAR’s 110 member universities to a three-year term.The board, which determines UCAR's overall direction, elected a new chair: Everette Joseph, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the University at Albany-SUNY. Joseph is serving his second three-year term as a trustee.At this week's meeting, UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi and Joseph thanked outgoing Chair of the Board Eric Betterton for his outstanding leadership, dedication, and commitment to UCAR."Eric is a tough act to follow, but I am looking forward to working with the new and returning trustees to ensure that UCAR continues to be regarded as one of the world's leading resources in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences," Joseph said.Betterton, who has served as chair since 2015, said he was delighted to see Joseph assume the role. "Everette is exceptionally well placed to take over as chair, having served as vice chair since 2015. He has a deep understanding of UCAR, most recently evidenced by his leadership last spring of the successful search for a new UCAR president," Betterton said.Petra Klein from the University of Oklahoma will assume the vice chair role. She has served as a trustee since 2015.The UCAR member universities also re-elected two sitting trustees to additional terms: Betterton, also director of the University of Arizona's Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences; and Romy Olaisen, a vice president of enterprise ground solutions at Harris Corp. Eleven board members have continuing terms in a staggered-term system that assures continuity."I am excited to work with a board that has the depth of expertise from academia, government, and the private sector needed to help tackle the complex challenges facing Earth system science," Busalacchi said. "The work of NCAR, the UCAR university consortium, and our many partners working on weather, water, and climate has never been more important for protecting lives and property, growing the economy, and advancing national security."UCAR is a nonprofit consortium of 110 North American colleges and universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences. UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research with sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. UCAR's community programs offer a suite of innovative resources, tools, and services in support of the consortium's education and research goals.New UCAR chairEverette Joseph has been the director of the University at Albany-SUNY's Atmospheric Sciences Research Center since 2014. His current projects include research to improve extreme weather resiliency and the development and deployment of ground-based and satellite observing systems. In his prior position as director of the Howard University Program in Atmospheric Sciences, he helped Howard become a national leader in graduating African American and Hispanic Ph.D.s in atmospheric science. Read more about Joseph.  New UCAR trustees Susan Avery is an atmospheric physicist and president emerita of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she served as president from 2008–2015. Prior to that, Avery was a professor at the University of Colorado and held various leadership positions, including director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Avery also is a past president of the American Meteorological Society and a past chair of the UCAR Board of Trustees. Read more about Avery.  Raymond Ban is managing director of Ban & Associates, which provides consulting services to weather media companies. He also serves as a consultant to The Weather Channel, where he served as an executive vice president from 2002–2009. Read more about Ban.  Shuyi Chen is a professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. She has also been an affiliate scientist at NCAR since 2006. She serves as vice chair of the National Academies Board of Atmospheric Science and Climate (BASC). A fellow of the American Meteorological Society, Chen is an expert in the prediction of extreme weather events, including tropical cyclones and winter storms. Read more about Chen. Sherri Goodman is a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, affiliated with the center's Polar Initiative, Environmental Change and Security Program, and Global Women's Leadership Initiative. She is also a senior fellow at CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, where she founded the CNA Military Advisory Board. Goodman is the former president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security). Read more about Goodman. Harlan Spence has been director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space since 2010. Prior to that, he was a professor of astronomy and department chair at Boston University. With expertise in solar research and the origins of space weather, he has worked closely with NCAR's High Altitude Observatory. He serves on several national committees providing advice to NASA and the National Science Foundation on potential space missions. Read more about Spence. 

UCAR letter on immigration order

Dear UCAR Community,As many of you are aware, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday temporarily banning citizens of seven countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen -- from entering the United States. This ban is counter to our organization’s mission and values, and I would like to reaffirm, in the strongest possible terms, our commitment and support for members of our community who may be impacted by this executive order.UCAR and NCAR are devoted to hiring, working with, and welcoming the best employees and visiting staff in the world, regardless of their country of citizenship, religion, or personal characteristics. We understand that diverse perspectives are critical for finding solutions to the complex scientific problems we are tackling today. Further, the impact of our research is global in scale, stretching beyond the boundary of our own country and it is imperative that we are able to collaborate with our colleagues around the world.While it is not yet clear how this executive order -- parts of which have been stayed by multiple federal judges -- will be implemented, UCAR is carefully monitoring the possible impacts on our staff and community members. Among these impacts will surely be an emotional toll, and I would ask that all of us at UCAR’s 110 member institutions and beyond work to support each other during this difficult and uncertain time.Sincerely,Antonio Busalacchi, UCAR President

Turbocharging science

CHEYENNE, Wyoming — The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is launching operations this month of one of the world's most powerful and energy-efficient supercomputers, providing the nation with a major new tool to advance understanding of the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences.Named "Cheyenne," the 5.34-petaflop system is capable of more than triple the amount of scientific computing performed by the previous NCAR supercomputer, Yellowstone. It also is three times more energy efficient.Scientists across the country will use Cheyenne to study phenomena ranging from wildfires and seismic activity to gusts that generate power at wind farms. Their findings will lay the groundwork for better protecting society from natural disasters, lead to more detailed projections of seasonal and longer-term weather and climate variability and change, and improve weather and water forecasts that are needed by economic sectors from agriculture and energy to transportation and tourism."Cheyenne will help us advance the knowledge needed for saving lives, protecting property, and enabling U.S. businesses to better compete in the global marketplace," said Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "This system is turbocharging our science."UCAR manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF).Cheyenne currently ranks as the 20th fastest supercomputer in the world and the fastest in the Mountain West, although such rankings change as new and more powerful machines begin operations. It is funded by NSF as well as by the state of Wyoming through an appropriation to the University of Wyoming.Cheyenne is housed in the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), one of the nation's premier supercomputing facilities for research. Since the NWSC opened in 2012, more than 2,200 scientists from more than 300 universities and federal labs have used its resources."Through our work at the NWSC, we have a better understanding of such important processes as surface and subsurface hydrology, physics of flow in reservoir rock, and weather modification and precipitation stimulation," said William Gern, vice president of research and economic development at the University of Wyoming. "Importantly, we are also introducing Wyoming’s school-age students to the significance and power of computing."The NWSC is located in Cheyenne, and the name of the new system was chosen to honor the support the center has received from the people of that city. The name also commemorates the upcoming 150th anniversary of the city, which was founded in 1867 and named for the American Indian Cheyenne Nation.Contour lines and isosurfaces provide valuable information about turbulence and aerodynamic drag in this visualization of air flow through the blades of a wind turbine, the product of a simulation on the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center's Yellowstone system. (Image courtesy Dimitri Mavriplis, University of Wyoming.) Increased power, greater efficiencyCheyenne was built by Silicon Graphics International, or SGI (now part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.), with DataDirect Networks (DDN) providing centralized file system and data storage components. Cheyenne is capable of 5.34 quadrillion calculations per second (5.34 petaflops, or floating point operations per second).The new system has a peak computation rate of more than 3 billion calculations per second for every watt of energy consumed. That is three times more energy efficient than the Yellowstone supercomputer, which is also highly efficient.The data storage system for Cheyenne provides an initial capacity of 20 petabytes, expandable to 40 petabytes with the addition of extra drives.  The new DDN system also transfers data at the rate of 220 gigabytes per second, which is more than twice as fast as the previous file system’s rate of 90 gigabytes per second.Cheyenne is the latest in a long and successful history of supercomputers supported by the NSF and NCAR to advance the atmospheric and related sciences.“We’re excited to provide the research community with more supercomputing power,” said Anke Kamrath, interim director of NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, which oversees operations at the NWSC. “Scientists have access to increasingly large amounts of data about our planet. The enhanced capabilities of the NWSC will enable them to tackle problems that used to be out of reach and obtain results at far greater speeds than ever.”More detailed predictionsHigh-performance computers such as Cheyenne allow researchers to run increasingly detailed models that simulate complex events and predict how they might unfold in the future. With more supercomputing power, scientists can capture additional processes, run their models at a higher resolution, and conduct an ensemble of modeling runs that provide a fuller picture of the same time period."Providing next-generation supercomputing is vital to better understanding the Earth system that affects us all, " said NCAR Director James W. Hurrell. "We're delighted that this powerful resource is now available to the nation's scientists, and we're looking forward to new discoveries in climate, weather, space weather, renewable energy, and other critical areas of research."Some of the initial projects on Cheyenne include:Long-range, seasonal to decadal forecasting: Several studies led by George Mason University, the University of Miami, and NCAR aim to improve prediction of weather patterns months to years in advance. Researchers will use Cheyenne's capabilities to generate more comprehensive simulations of finer-scale processes in the ocean, atmosphere, and sea ice. This research will help scientists refine computer models for improved long-term predictions, including how year-to-year changes in Arctic sea ice extent may affect the likelihood of extreme weather events thousands of miles away.Wind energy: Projecting electricity output at a wind farm is extraordinarily challenging as it involves predicting variable gusts and complex wind eddies at the height of turbines, which are hundreds of feet above the sensors used for weather forecasting. University of Wyoming researchers will use Cheyenne to simulate wind conditions on different scales, from across the continent down to the tiny space near a wind turbine blade, as well as the vibrations within an individual turbine itself. In addition, an NCAR-led project will create high-resolution, 3-D simulations of vertical and horizontal drafts to provide more information about winds over complex terrain. This type of research is critical as utilities seek to make wind farms as efficient as possible.Space weather: Scientists are working to better understand solar disturbances that buffet Earth's atmosphere and threaten the operation of satellites, communications, and power grids. New projects led by the University of Delaware and NCAR are using Cheyenne to gain more insight into how solar activity leads to damaging geomagnetic storms. The scientists plan to develop detailed simulations of the emergence of the magnetic field from the subsurface of the Sun into its atmosphere, as well as gain a three-dimensional view of plasma turbulence and magnetic reconnection in space that lead to plasma heating.Extreme weather: One of the leading questions about climate change is how it could affect the frequency and severity of major storms and other types of severe weather. An NCAR-led project will explore how climate interacts with the land surface and hydrology over the United States, and how extreme weather events can be expected to change in the future. It will use advanced modeling approaches at high resolution (down to just a few miles) in ways that can help scientists configure future climate models to better simulate extreme events.Climate engineering: To counter the effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, some experts have proposed artificially cooling the planet by injecting sulfates into the stratosphere, which would mimic the effects of a major volcanic eruption. But if society ever tried to engage in such climate engineering, or geoengineering, the results could alter the world's climate in unintended ways. An NCAR-led project is using Cheyenne's computing power to run an ensemble of climate engineering simulations to show how hypothetical sulfate injections could affect regional temperatures and precipitation.Smoke and global climate: A study led by the University of Wyoming will look into emissions from wildfires and how they affect stratocumulus clouds over the southeastern Atlantic Ocean. This research is needed for a better understanding of the global climate system, as stratocumulus clouds, which cover 23 percent of Earth's surface, play a key role in reflecting sunlight back into space. The work will help reveal the extent to which particles emitted during biomass burning influence cloud processes in ways that affect global temperatures.

Congress unanimously passes law for research and innovation

BOULDER, Colo. — By voting unanimously this month to pass the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, Congress has strengthened U.S. science and provided a major boost to the nation's economy and national security."Scientific research is the critical foundation of economic competitiveness," said Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). "This bipartisan legislation will propel advances in research and strengthen collaborations between scientists and private industry, creating jobs and providing far-ranging benefits for the nation in the years to come."UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)Busalacchi noted that federal investments in atmospheric research alone have spawned a multibillion private weather industry, providing critical forecasts to business leaders and local officials and helping to save lives from tornadoes, floods, and other disasters.The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which maximizes opportunities for basic research, won unanimous passage last week in the House and Senate. It was sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan), along with John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida).The bill encourages scientific entrepreneurship; provides incentives for private sector innovation; promotes improvements in manufacturing; strengthens national security; and promotes diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. It most directly focuses on programs in the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.Key provisions include:Maximizing basic researchMerit review: Reaffirms the appropriateness of NSF intellectual merit and broader impacts criteria used to evaluate grant proposals.EPSCoR: Updates NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to continue promoting groundbreaking research in states that receive relatively little federal research money.Leveraging the private sectorIncentivizes private-sector innovation: Updates prize competition authority to encourage greater participation in federal prize competitions.Expands opportunities for public involvement: Permits federal science agencies to use crowdsourcing as a tool to conduct agency projects.Improving manufacturingEncourages improved manufacturing: Adjusts the federal cost-share ratio and implements new accountability and oversight provisions within NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.Promoting innovation and technology transferBolsters scientific entrepreneurship: Authorizes the successful I-Corps program to help scientists move their research from the laboratory to the marketplace.Reaffirms importance of commercialization: Directs NSF to continue awarding translational research grants and strengthen public-private cooperation.Supporting STEMScientific community input: Establishes a STEM Advisory Panel composed of academic and industry representatives to provide recommendations on federal STEM programs.Diversity in STEM fields: Creates a working group to study ways to improve inclusion of women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields.The legislation also includes provisions to strengthen national security and foster more communication between science and national security agencies. It reduces paperwork burdens and promotes transparency by requiring public notices of grants to justify the project's expenditures and confirm that they align with NSF priorities."Congress's unanimous support of scientific research and innovation is an important step for securing our nation's future, " Busalacchi said. "At UCAR we look forward to working with NSF and other federal agencies, the research community, and the private sector to advance research in support of society."Full text: American Innovation and Competitiveness Act 

NCAR & UCAR Scientists Highlight Advances in Weather, Water & Climate Research at AGU 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – Scientists with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) will make dozens of presentations at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) during the week of December 12–16.Media Q&AThe Path Forward from Paris, One Year LaterUCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi, AGU President Margaret Leinen (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), and Carlos Nobre (Brazilian National Institute of Science & Technology for Climate Change) - related to Union Session U23ATuesday, December 13, 4 p.m. - Moscone West 3000 (Press Conference Room)Note: The Moscone West Q&A follows Union Session U23A with these participants in Moscone North Hall E from 1:40-3:40 p.m.Selected Talks MONDAY | TUESDAY | WEDNESDAY | THURSDAY | FRIDAYFull calendar, special events& exhibitsNCAR & UCAR at AGU 2016>@AtmosNewsLive | #NCARscience MONDAY, December 12Getting Space Weather Data and More From 'Noise' in GPS Signals: The COSMIC MissionsWilliam Schreiner, UCARSA11A-04: Satellite Constellations for Space Weather and Ionospheric Studies: Overview of the COSMIC and COSMIC-2 Missions8:45-9:00 a.m., Moscone West 2016Climate Change, Lyme, Zika, and Other Vector-Borne DiseasesAndrew Monaghan, NCARGC12A-02: Assessment of Climate Change and Vector-Borne Diseases in the United States10:35-10:50 a.m., Moscone West 2020Extreme Rainfall Could Increase Fivefold Across Parts of the U.S. Later This CenturyAndreas Prein, NCARGC13H-04: The Future Intensification of Hourly Precipitation Extremes2:25-2:40 p.m., Moscone West 3003Building Resilient Cities and Ecosystems: Food, Energy, and Water SecurityPatricia Romero-Lankao, NCARU13A-05: Urbanization, Extreme Climate Hazards, and Food/Energy/Water Security2:54-3:12 p.m., Moscone West 2022/2024TUESDAY, December 13Carbon Dioxide's Opposite Effects in the Upper AtmosphereStan Solomon, NCARSA21C-03: Climate Change in the Upper Atmosphere8:30-8:45 a.m., Moscone West 20163D-Printed Weather Stations Aid Forecasting in Developing NationsPaul Kucera, NCARH23F-1637: Development of Innovative Technology to Expand Precipitation Observations in Satellite Precipitation Validation in Under-developed Data-Sparse Regions1:40-6:00 p.m., Moscone South - Poster HallScenarios for Reaching the Paris Agreement TargetsBen Sanderson, NCARGC24D-02: Pathways to 1.5 Degrees: New GCM Simulations for Scenarios Which Meet the Paris Temperature Targets4:15-4:27 p.m., Moscone West 3003WEDNESDAY, December 14Seeing Into Tornadoes and Hurricanes with High-Resolution SimulationsGeorge Bryan, NCARIN31F-07: Insights into Tornadoes, Hurricanes from High-Resolution Simulations9:30-9:45 a.m., Moscone West 2000A Weather Resiliency Toolbox for Communities and BusinessesJames Done, NCARPA32A-03: Tools in Support of Planning for Weather and Climate Extremes10:58-11:11 a.m., Moscone South 304Exploring Unanswered Questions in the Evolution of Prehistoric Climate - The Emiliani LectureBette Otto-Bliesner, NCARPP32A-01: Resolving Some Puzzles of Climate Evolution Since the Last Glacial Maximum: A Melding of Paleoclimate Modeling and Data11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Moscone West 2022/2024THURSDAY, December 15Novel Uses of Climate Information for Water Utility Planners David Yates, NCAR U42A-02: The Novel Use of Climate Information in Water Utility Planning 10:40-10:58 a.m., Moscone South 102What's In Wildfire Smoke? Jerome Barre, NCAR A42D-04: Quantifying Fire Emissions and Associated Aerosol Species Using Assimilation of Satellite Carbon Monoxide Retrievals 11:05-11:20 a.m., Moscone West 3004 <FRIDAY, December 16What's Causing Errors in Hurricane & Tropical Storm Forecasts? Chris Davis, NCAR A54F-06: On the Origin of Large Tropical Cyclone Track Errors 5:15-5:30 p.m., Moscone West 3012  Full calendar, special events & exhibit infoNCAR & UCAR at AGU 2016>@AtmosNewsLive | #NCARscience | #AGU16

Two NCAR scientists honored by American Geophysical Union

BOULDER, Colo. — Martyn Clark, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), will be honored next week as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for his exceptional contribution to Earth science.Clark is an expert in the numerical modeling and prediction of hydrologic processes. His current research includes developing new modeling methods to improve streamflow forecasts and better understand climate change impacts on regional water resources. Clark, who grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, has authored or co-authored 135 journal articles since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1998.NCAR Senior Scientist Martyn Clark (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)"This well-deserved honor reflects Martyn's eminent work in the increasingly critical area of water-resource prediction and management," said NCAR Director James W. Hurrell.Clark said he was delighted to see NCAR's hydrologic modeling recognized. "Hydrology is beginning to play a much stronger role in addressing important interdisciplinary science questions about Earth System change, such as how changes in the terrestrial water cycle affect biological productivity and how groundwater can buffer water stress in ecosystems and human societies. It's exciting to advance modeling capabilities in these areas."NCAR Senior Scientist Bette Otto-Bliesner. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)Clark is among 60 individuals from eight countries recognized as Fellows this year; only one in one thousand AGU members receive this recognition in any given year. Nearly 40 percent of this year's fellows are from the 110 member colleges and universities of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages NCAR. This year's class will be honored next Wednesday at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.NCAR Senior Scientist Bette Otto-Bliesner, who was named an AGU Fellow last year, is being honored by her peers in the Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Focus Group and Ocean Sciences Section by being asked to give the 2016 Emiliani Lecture. She will give the lecture next Wednesday at the AGU Fall Meeting on the topic of "Resolving Some Puzzles of Climate Evolution Since the Last Glacial Maximum: A Melding of Paleoclimate Modeling and Data."The AGU, dedicated to advancing Earth and space sciences for the benefit of society, is a not-for-profit, professional organization representing 60,000 members in more than 140 countries. 

Extreme downpours could increase fivefold across parts of the U.S.

BOULDER, Colo. — At century's end, the number of summertime storms that produce extreme downpours could increase by more than 400 percent across parts of the United States — including sections of the Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, and the Southwest — according to a new study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, also finds that the intensity of individual extreme rainfall events could increase by as much as 70 percent in some areas. That would mean that a storm that drops about 2 inches of rainfall today would be likely to drop nearly 3.5 inches in the future."These are huge increases," said NCAR scientist Andreas Prein, lead author of the study. "Imagine the most intense thunderstorm you typically experience in a single season. Our study finds that, in the future, parts of the U.S. could expect to experience five of those storms in a season, each with an intensity as strong or stronger than current storms."The study was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR's sponsor, and the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America.“Extreme precipitation events affect our infrastructure through flooding, landslides and debris flows,” said Anjuli Bamzai, program director in NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences, which funded the research.  “We need to better understand how these extreme events are changing. By supporting this research, NSF is working to foster a safer environment for all of us.”The figure shows the expected increase in the number of summertime storms that produce extreme precipitation at century's end compared to the period 2000 - 2013. (©UCAR. Courtesy Andreas Prein, NCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)A year of supercomputing timeAn increase in extreme precipitation is one of the expected impacts of climate change because scientists know that as the atmosphere warms, it can hold more water, and a wetter atmosphere can produce heavier rain. In fact, an increase in precipitation intensity has already been measured across all regions of the U.S. However, climate models are generally not able to simulate these downpours because of their coarse resolution, which has made it difficult for researchers to assess future changes in storm frequency and intensity.For the new study, the research team used a new dataset that was created when NCAR scientists and study co-authors Roy Rasmussen, Changhai Liu, and Kyoko Ikeda ran the NCAR-based Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model at a resolution of 4 kilometers, fine enough to simulate individual storms. The simulations, which required a year to run, were performed on the Yellowstone system at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center.Prein and his co-authors used the new dataset to investigate changes in downpours over North America in detail. The researchers looked at how storms that occurred between 2000 and 2013 might change if they occurred instead in a climate that was 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer — the temperature increase expected by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.Prein cautioned that this approach is a simplified way of comparing present and future climate. It doesn't reflect possible changes to storm tracks or weather systems associated with climate change. The advantage, however, is that scientists can more easily isolate the impact of additional heat and associated moisture on future storm formation."The ability to simulate realistic downpours is a quantum leap in climate modeling. This enables us to investigate changes in hourly rainfall extremes that are related to flash flooding for the very first time," Prein said. "To do this took a tremendous amount of computational resources."Impacts vary across the U.S.The study found that the number of summertime storms producing extreme precipitation is expected to increase across the entire country, though the amount varies by region. The Midwest, for example, sees an increase of zero to about 100 percent across swaths of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa. But the Gulf Coast, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico all see increases ranging from 200 percent to more than 400 percent.The study also found that the intensity of extreme rainfall events in the summer could increase across nearly the entire country, with some regions, including the Northeast and parts of the Southwest, seeing particularly large increases, in some cases of more than 70 percent.A surprising result of the study is that extreme downpours will also increase in areas that are getting drier on average, especially in the Midwest. This is because moderate rainfall events that are the major source of moisture in this region during the summertime are expected to decrease significantly while extreme events increase in frequency and intensity. This shift from moderate to intense rainfall increases the potential for flash floods and mudslides, and can have negative impacts on agriculture.The study also investigated how the environmental conditions that produce the most severe downpours might change in the future. In today's climate, the storms with the highest hourly rainfall intensities form when the daily average temperature is somewhere between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 to 77 degrees F) and with high atmospheric moisture. When the temperature gets too hot, rainstorms become weaker or don't occur at all because the increase in atmospheric moisture cannot keep pace with the increase in temperature. This relative drying of the air robs the atmosphere of one of the essential ingredients needed to form a storm.In the new study, the NCAR scientists found that storms may continue to intensify up to temperatures of 30 degrees C because of a more humid atmosphere. The result would be much more intense storms."Understanding how climate change may affect the environments that produce the most intense storms is essential because of the significant impacts that these kinds of storms have on society," Prein said.About the articleTitle: The future intensification of hourly precipitation extremesAuthors: Andreas F. Prein, Roy M. Rasmussen, Kyoko Ikeda, Changhai Liu, Martyn P. Clark, and Greg J. HollandJournal: Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3168Writer:Laura Snider, Senior Science Writer and Public Information Officer

Days of record-breaking heat ahead

BOULDER, Colo. — If society continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current rate, Americans later this century will have to endure, on average, about 15 daily maximum temperature records for every time that the mercury notches a record low, new research indicates.That ratio of record highs to record lows could also turn out to be much higher if the pace of emissions increases and produces even more warming, according to the study led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).Over the last decade, in contrast, the ratio of record high temperatures to record lows has averaged about two to one."More and more frequently, climate change will affect Americans with record-setting heat," said NCAR senior scientist Gerald Meehl, lead author of the new paper. "An increase in average temperatures of a few degrees may not seem like much, but it correlates with a noticeable increase in days that are hotter than any in the record, and nights that will remain warmer than we've ever experienced in the past." The United States has experienced unusual warmth lately, as indicated by this July 22, 2016, weather map showing much of the country facing highs in the 90s and 100s and lows in the 70s. New research indicates that more record high temperatures may be in store. (Weather map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center.)The 15-to-1 ratio of record highs to lows is based on temperatures across the continental United States increasing by slightly more than 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above recent years, which is about the amount of warming expected to occur with the current pace of greenhouse gas emissions.The new research appears this week in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." It was funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is NCAR's sponsor. The study was coauthored by NCAR scientist Claudia Tebaldi and by Dennis Adams-Smith, a scientist previously at Climate Central and now at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.Hotter days  In a 2009 study, Meehl and colleagues found that the ratio of record daily high temperatures to record daily low temperatures has steadily increased since the 1970s as average temperatures over the United States have warmed. Computer models at that time indicated that the ratio could continue to increase during this century, although the research team looked into just one scenario of future emissions. The scientists also found that the models were overstating the ratio of record highs to record lows in recent years, compared to observations.By digging further into the issue and analyzing why the models differed from observations, Meehl and his co-authors have now produced a better calibrated projection of future record-breaking daily highs across the U.S. They based their projections on the average temperature increase over the continental United States, rather than on a particular scenario of future emissions.By about 2065, for example, U.S. temperatures will rise by an average of slightly more than 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) if society maintains a “business as usual” increase in the emission of greenhouse gases. Under such a scenario, the ratio of record daily high temperatures to record daily lows will likely be about 15 to 1, although it could range anywhere from 7 to 1 up to 22 to 1, the study found.If temperatures increase even more this century, the ratio of record highs to record lows will jump substantially. For example, if temperatures climb more than 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F), Americans could experience about 38 record highs for every record low. Such an outcome could occur if society does not make any efforts to mitigate the production of greenhouse gases."Every degree of warming makes a substantial amount of difference, with the ratio of record highs to record lows becoming much greater," Meehl said. "Even with much warmer temperatures on average, we will still have winter and we will still get record cold temperatures, but the numbers of those will be really small compared to record high maximums."If temperatures were not warming, Meehl said, the ratio of record highs to record lows would average out to about one to one.Instead, record high temperatures have already become a common occurrence in much of the country. The ratio of record highs to lows has averaged about 2 to 1 over the first decade of the 21st century, but there is considerable year-to-year variation. The ratio was about 5 to 1 in 2012, dropping to about 1 to 1 in 2013 and 2014, then almost 3 to 1 in 2015. The unusual warmth of 2016, resulting from both climate change and natural patterns such as El Niño, has led to 24,519 record daily maximums vs. 3,970 record daily minimums—a ratio of about 6 to 1.Precipitation and the warm 1930sA key part of the study involved pinpointing why the models in the 2009 study were simulating somewhat more daily record high maximum temperatures compared with recent observations, while there was good agreement between the models and the observed decreases in record low minimums. The authors focused on two sets of simulations conducted on the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model (version 4), which is funded by DOE and NSF and developed by climate scientists across the country.Their analysis uncovered two reasons for the disparity between the computer models and observations.First, the models tended to underestimate precipitation. Because the air is cooled by precipitation and resulting evapotranspiration — the release of moisture from the land and plants back to the atmosphere — the tendency of the computer models to create an overly dry environment led to more record high temperatures.Second, the original study in 2009 only went back to the 1950s. For the new study, the research team also analyzed temperatures in the 1930s and 1940s, which is as far back as accurate recordkeeping will allow. Because the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s were unusually warm, with many record-setting high temperatures, the scientists found that it was more difficult in subsequent years to break those records, even as temperatures warmed. However, even taking the warm 1930s into account, both the model-simulated and observed ratio of record highs to record lows have been increasing."The steady increase in the record ratio is an immediate and stark reminder of how our temperatures have been shifting and continue to do so, reaching unprecedented highs and fewer record lows," said Tebaldi. "These changes pose adaptation challenges to both human and natural systems. Only a substantial mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions may stop this increase, or at least slow down its pace."About the articleTitle: "US daily temperature records past, present, and future"Authors: Gerald A. Meehl, Claudia Tebaldi, and Dennis Adams-SmithJournal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

James Hurrell elected to AGU position

BOULDER, Colo. —James W. Hurrell, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), has been elected incoming president of the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He will be formally installed as president-elect at the AGU's annual meeting in December."It is a great honor to be elected by peers throughout the atmospheric sciences community," Hurrell said. "This is a critical time for the atmospheric sciences as we seek to advance our knowledge of climate change, extreme weather events, air quality, and other issues that pose significant challenges to our society."NCAR Director James Hurrell. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)The Atmospheric Sciences Section studies the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the atmosphere, particularly the two layers closest to Earth’s surface: the stratosphere and troposphere. These layers are crucial to life because they regulate planetary surface temperature, play an integral role in the world’s water cycle, and screen the planet from high-energy radiation. Much of the research focuses on global climate change, as well as monitoring fluctuations in the ozone layer and better understanding and predicting weather events and the effects of emissions from human activities."New ideas and approaches to AGU’s strategic challenges can be found in the collective wisdom of the organization's diverse membership," Hurrell said. "As president-elect, I am committed to eliciting those ideas and finding effective methods to further develop and implement the best of them." An NCAR senior scientist, Hurrell was named director of the center in 2013. He has contributed to numerous national and international science planning initiatives, including extensive involvement in the World Climate Research Programme, as well as the assessment activities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also has served on several National Academy of Sciences panels, and he has provided briefings and testimonies to Congress on climate change science.Hurrell is a Fellow of the AGU, as well as of the American Meteorological Society and the Royal Meteorological Society. His personal research has centered on empirical and modeling studies and diagnostic analyses to better understand climate, climate variability, and climate change."Jim's vision and energy, along with his skill at drawing on insights from across the atmospheric sciences community, will enable him to make substantial contributions to AGU," said Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). "The UCAR community is excited over Jim's election and looks forward to his leadership in this important position."

UCAR publishes guidance to next presidential administration and Congress

BOULDER, Colo. — The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has published guidance for the next U.S. presidential administration and Congress on the importance of better understanding and predicting weather, water, climate, and other aspects of the Earth system.A UCAR white paper emphasizes that focused investment of federal resources in the atmospheric, Earth, and related sciences will make significant contributions addressing important societal needs. These include protection of lives and property, expansion of new economic opportunities, enhancement of national security, and strengthening U.S. leadership in research and development."More than ever, federal support of research and education into the Earth system is critical to the nation," said UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi. "We are on the verge of a new era of prediction, based on understanding how the entire Earth system works. This will have a direct positive impact on lives and livelihoods."UCAR is a nonprofit consortium of 110 member colleges and universities.The white paper proposes federal support for advancing computer models, new observing systems, and more powerful computing resources, as well as a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education system. Its proposals include a National Academies' decadal survey, involving representatives of the public and private sectors, which would develop priorities for weather research and forecasting."The United States should be the unambiguous leader in predicting weather, water, climate, and related systems," Busalacchi said. "Transforming this knowledge into action will allow our nation and the world to effectively respond and adapt to changing environmental conditions."UCAR federal government transition resources can be found here. 

Pages

Subscribe to News