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2011 holiday party blends awards and memories


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UCAR collaboration with The Weather Company to improve weather forecasts worldwide

BOULDER, Colo. — The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) today announced a new collaboration with The Weather Company, an IBM business, to improve global weather forecasting. The partnership brings together cutting-edge computer modeling developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with The Weather Company's meteorological science and IBM's advanced compute equipment."This is a major public-private partnership that will advance weather prediction and generate significant benefits for businesses making critical decisions based on weather forecasts," said UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi. "We are gratified that taxpayer investments in the development of weather models are now helping U.S. industries compete in the global marketplace."UCAR, a nonprofit consortium of 110 universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences, manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation.With the new agreement, The Weather Company will develop a global forecast model based on the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS), an innovative software platform developed by NCAR and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.The Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) enables forecasters to combine a global view of the atmosphere with a higher-resolution view of a particular region, such as North America. (@UCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)MPAS offers a unique way of simulating the global atmosphere while providing users with more flexibility when focusing on specific regions of interest. Unlike traditional three-dimensional models that calculate atmospheric conditions at multiple points within a block-shaped grid, it uses a hexagonal mesh resembling a honeycomb that can be stretched wide in some regions and compressed for higher resolution in others. This enables forecasters to simultaneously capture far-flung atmospheric conditions that can influence local weather, as well as small-scale features such as vertical wind shear that can affect thunderstorms and other severe weather.Drawing on the computational power of GPUs — graphics processing units — such as those being used in a powerful new generation of IBM supercomputers, and on the expertise of NCAR and The Weather Company, the new collaboration is designed to push the capabilities of MPAS to yield more accurate forecasts with longer lead times. The results of NCAR's work will be freely available to the meteorological community. Businesses, from airlines to retailers, as well as the general public, stand to benefit.Mary Glackin, head of weather science and operations for The Weather Company, said, "As strong advocates for science, we embrace strong public-private collaborations that understand the value science brings to society, such as our continued efforts with UCAR to advance atmospheric and computational sciences.""As this partnership shows, society is on the cusp of a new era in weather prediction, with more precise short-range forecasts as well as longer-term forecasts of seasonal weather patterns," Busalacchi said. "These forecasts are important for public health and safety, as well as enabling companies to leverage economic opportunities in ways that were never possible before."About The Weather CompanyThe Weather Company, an IBM Business, helps people make informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The company offers weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com).

UCAR statement on U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

BOULDER, Colo. — President Donald Trump today announced he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, a global pact signed by more than 190 countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions. He also said he would seek to renegotiate it or forge a new agreement. Antonio J. Busalacchi, the president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), issued the following statement:Today's decision to begin withdrawing from the Paris Agreement under its current terms creates new uncertainties about the future of our climate. At a time when our economic well-being and national security depend increasingly on accurate predictions of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, investments in climate research are even more necessary so scientists can project climate change in the new policy environment.Climate change poses major risks to food and water supplies, transportation systems, and other resources in the United States and worldwide. Rising temperatures and their impacts on weather patterns are creating additional stress at a time of international conflicts, endangering our economic and military security. If average global temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius — the target of the Paris Agreement — research indicates that damaging impacts, such as sea level rise, intense heat waves and droughts, and shifts in weather patterns and storms will become more severe. With today’s decision, scientists will need to focus more attention on the potential ramifications of failing to curb emissions sufficiently to meet the 2-degree target.Nations are amassing information about future climate conditions as a necessary precondition for competing in the global marketplace. Multinational corporations are seeking to mitigate their exposure to climate risks, and if they cannot get the needed information from U.S.-funded research they will go elsewhere to get the most authoritative information. U.S. rivals, including China, are conducting vigorous climate research projects that support their economic and military investments and expand their influence worldwide. Even if the United States no longer participates in climate agreements, it cannot afford to cede climate knowledge to overseas competitors.Climate research is fundamentally nonpartisan. The work under way at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in collaboration with our partners at government agencies, the university community, and the private sector, builds an evidence-based picture of the possible future impacts of climate change. As always, we stand ready to provide the results of our scientific inquiry to Congress and the administration in order to keep our nation secure and prosperous.Today's decision does not mean that climate change will go away. To the contrary, the heightened potential for increased greenhouse gas emissions poses a substantial threat to our communities, businesses, and military. The work by U.S. researchers — to understand and anticipate changes in our climate system and determine ways to mitigate or adapt to the potential impacts — is now more vital than ever.

UCAR Community Art Program – UCAR Center For Science Education

June 5, 2017 – July 29, 2017

Illustration, Design, Art and Photography by Michael Hamers

Mike Hamers has had many incarnations as an artist and illustrator over his 40-year career: technical and science illustrator, printmaking student, designer, airbrush watercolorist, and fine art photographer. The theme of his exhibit, “More Art Than Science”, includes examples of all aspects of his richly varied career. 

Enhanced Photography by Marc Bernardi 

UCAR statement on President Trump's budget proposal

BOULDER, Colo. — Antonio J. Busalacchi, the president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), issued the following statement about the federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, which the Trump administration released today following its budget blueprint in March:Today's budget proposal, which identifies the priorities of the White House, marks a major step in the months-long process by the Trump administration and Congress to  finalize the budget for the 2018 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. UCAR is working with its partners in the Earth system science community to ensure that the government continues to invest in crucial research and scientific infrastructure that saves lives and property, supports our continued economic competitiveness, and strengthens our national security.Improved understanding of the atmosphere is crucial for our nation's resilience. Last year alone, the United States experienced 15 weather-related disasters that each reached or exceeded $1 billion in costs, including tornadoes, drought, and widespread flooding. Even routine weather events have an annual economic impact of hundreds of billions of dollars, affecting transportation, supply chain management, consumer purchasing, and virtually every other economic sector. Higher up in our atmosphere, space weather events pose an ongoing threat to GPS systems, communications networks, power grids, and other technologies that are essential for the everyday functioning of our nation.Thanks to collaborations among government agencies, universities, and the private sector, scientists are developing increasingly advanced observing instruments and computer models to better understand these threats. We are gaining the ability to predict major atmospheric and related events weeks, months, or even more than a year in advance, providing needed environmental intelligence to business, military, and public safety leaders. As U.S. competitors make major investments into better observing, understanding, and predicting the Earth system, it is more imperative than ever to continue this work in order to maintain American preeminence in the world.We are concerned that the administration's proposed cuts to research into the Earth system sciences will undermine the continued scientific progress that is so vitally needed to better protect the nation in the future from costly natural disasters. This would have serious repercussions for the U.S. economy and national security, and for the ability to protect life and property. Such funding cuts would be especially unfortunate at a time when the nation is moving to regain its position as the world leader in weather forecasting.UCAR is extremely grateful to the bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate that voted to sustain research funding in the current fiscal year. We look forward to working with Congress in the months ahead to maintain the level of funding needed in the fiscal year 2018 budget to support essential Earth system science research.

UCAR to co-anchor Colorado's Innovation Corridor

BOULDER, Colo. — The Colorado Innovation Corridor, a new platform to connect premier, federally funded labs with private industry, will be co-anchored by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The partnership is designed to foster economic development and job creation.UCAR and NREL will be linked to private companies through the global marketplace collaborations at FORMATIV's new World Trade Center (WTC) Denver Development in the city's River North neighborhood. FORMATIV is the Denver-based real estate development firm behind the WTC Denver Development.“The resources associated with these two labs are unlike anything else in the world," said Eric Drummond, president of global strategy and chief legal officer of FORMATIV. "We are absolutely thrilled to have them as founding partners of The Innovation Corridor."An artist's rendition of the World Trade Center Denver Development (Image courtesy FORMATIV.) UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on behalf of the National Science Foundation. It plays a central role in raising awareness of the value of continued federal investment in the lifesaving, economically critical work provided by the Earth systems science community, including improved forecasts of weather, water, climate, and solar storms.The Innovation Corridor will develop connections among the national labs, FORMATIV, and the private sector, providing scientists with an opportunity to demonstrate the newest technology and meet with potential business partners and investors."Private companies throughout the Front Range and beyond will now be able to harness breakthroughs by our scientists more effectively, thanks to this new partnership," said UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi. "The Innovation Corridor will leverage cutting-edge science in ways that will generate jobs, advance technologies needed to protect life and property, and boost U.S. competitiveness in the global economy."FORMATIV is a dynamic real estate and community development company that works to create transformative commercial and mixed-use projects. Its team focuses on building innovative business and community-based ecosystems in Denver and globally.The U.S. Department of Energy's NREL is the federal government's primary laboratory dedicated to research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.Writer:David Hosansky, Manager of Media Relations

Congressional briefing on wildland fires

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Scientists and fire experts are making landmark progress in developing new tools to improve the management and prediction of wildland fires, a panel of experts said at a congressional briefing today. The developments offer the potential of better protecting vulnerable residents and property from these extreme events, as well as reducing their costs. The briefing, sponsored by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), highlighted the development of new observing tools and advanced computer models to better understand wildland fires. "We're at a turning point where new technologies and advances in basic research are enabling us to tackle a major real-world problem," said UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi. "Federal and state agencies, firefighters, and scientists are all working together to develop a new generation of tools that will keep firefighters safer, reduce the costs of these massive conflagrations, and better safeguard lives and property."Bureau of Land Management firefighter near Burns, Oregon, in September 2011. (Photo by Dave Toney, BLM Oregon.)UCAR is a consortium of 110 universities that manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on behalf of the National Science Foundation. NCAR's wildland fire research includes working with Colorado on an advanced prediction system.Toll of wildland fires The costs of forest, grass, and other types of wildland fires are increasing dramatically. In 2016 alone, more than 67,000 wildfires consumed 5.5 million acres across the nation. The U.S. Forest Service spends more than $2.5 billion annually on fire management, an increase of more than 60 percent over the last decade. The total losses can run many times higher: Last year's Chimney Tops 2 fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, left 14 people dead and destroyed more than 2,400 structures at a cost of $500 million. "The money spent by the federal government on suppressing the fires is only a fraction of the overall costs, such as the destruction of houses and other property," said Michael Gollner, assistant professor at the University of Maryland's Department of Fire Protection Engineering. "There are more large-scale fires than there used to be, and those are the most dangerous blazes that are particularly expensive and destructive." Donald Falk, assistant professor of the University of Arizona's School of Natural Resources and the Environment, warned that decades of fire suppression coupled with drier and warmer temperatures in some regions will lead to longer fire seasons and more major fires. "The problem is not going away," he said. "It's going to get bigger, and we're going to have to live with it without breaking the bank." Wildland fires are extremely difficult to predict because they are influenced by local topography and vegetation, as well as by atmospheric conditions that, in turn, are affected by a blaze's heat and smoke. To better anticipate fire risk as well as predict a fire once it has started, scientists are harnessing new technologies. These include specialized satellite instruments and unmanned aerial vehicles to observe the blazes, as well as specialized computer models that incorporate weather-fire interactions, the density and condition of vegetation, landscape features such as elevation and topography, and the physics of fires. The researchers are working with federal and state agencies, emergency managers, and firefighters to adapt the new capabilities for real-time decision support. "Practitioners and scientists are bringing their expertise and knowledge to the table in order to create new evolutions of technology that will result in safer and more effective firefighting, enhance how we predict events and their potential impacts, and better plan for ways to prevent those wildfires we consider harmful," said Todd Richardson, state fire management officer of the Bureau of Land Management's Colorado office. "Having better guidance prior to planning your fire operations can provide critical information to the tactical operations and fire management," said William Mahoney, interim director of NCAR's Research Applications Laboratory. "Taking advantage of these important data sources and integrating these research areas provides tremendous opportunities to advance wildland fire management." The event is the latest in a series of UCAR congressional briefings that draw on expertise from the university consortium and public-private partnerships to provide insights into critical topics in the Earth system sciences. Past briefings have focused on predicting space weather, aviation weather safety, the state of the Arctic, hurricane prediction, potential impacts of El Niño, and new advances in water forecasting.

UCAR praises passage of Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act

Update: April 18, 2017Today President Donald Trump signed H.R. 353, the "Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017," into law.BOULDER, Colo. — With the unanimous passage of legislation to improve weather research and prediction, Congress has taken a major step today toward strengthening the nation's resilience to severe weather and boosting U.S. economic competitiveness."This landmark legislation will save lives and property while providing business leaders with critical intelligence," said Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). "Today's bipartisan vote underscores the enduring value of scientific research to our nation."The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act is the first major weather legislation since the early 1990s. It calls for more research into subseasonal to seasonal prediction, a priority for business and community leaders who need more reliable predictions of weather patterns weeks to months in advance. The bill also will strengthen short-term weather forecasts and smooth the way for research findings to be adopted by forecasters and commercial weather companies.Antonio J. Busalacchi. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)Improved short- and long-term weather predictions have major implications for public safety and the economy. The nation experienced 15 weather and climate disasters last year that cost $1 billion dollars or more, including tornadoes and widespread flooding that left dozens dead. Even routine weather events can affect transportation, supply chain management, consumer purchasing, and other sectors, with a collective impact of hundreds of billions of dollars on the U.S. economy.Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is managed by UCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation, have estimated that weather forecasts provide an annual benefit to the American public of more than $30 billion, compared with about $5 billion spent on generating U.S. weather forecasts."Research into the atmosphere provides an enormous return on investment," Busalacchi said. "Weather affects all of us, and being able to make plans based on forecasts of likely weather conditions is literally worth many billions of dollars to households and businesses."Decades of investments by federal agencies in weather research, observing systems, computer models, and supercomputing resources are dramatically advancing our understanding of how our atmosphere works. Five-day weather forecasts now are as reliable as two-day forecasts used to be, hurricane forecasts will soon extend out to seven days, and scientists are starting to find ways to project certain events, such as droughts and heat waves, a month or longer in advance.The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act is designed to strengthen:forecasts of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other severe stormslong-range prediction of weather patterns, from two weeks to two years aheadcommunication of forecasts, which influences subsequent decisions by public safety officials, businesses, and the publictsunami warningsthe process of moving research into operations and commercializationThe legislation (HR 353) was introduced by Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. Co-sponsors include Sen. Brian Schatz and Reps. Jim Bridenstine, Lamar Smith, Dana Rohrabacher, Chris Stewart, Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, and Suzanne Bonamici.The bipartisan bill authorizes spending increases at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for weather research focused on observations, models, and more powerful computing resources. It authorizes spending for COSMIC-2 an innovative suite of micro-satellites that will provide critical atmospheric observations, with multiagency support provided by UCAR, NOAA, the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and Taiwan's National Space Organization. The legislation also expands commercial opportunities to provide weather data while increasing the efficiency of NOAA's weather satellite programs."We are very appreciative of the work by Senator Thune, Representative Lucas, and the many co-sponsors in the House and Senate," Busalacchi said."As the United States faces an increasingly competitive global marketplace, it needs more accurate and longer-term weather forecasts," he added. "At UCAR we look forward to working with NOAA, the Department of Defense, and the other federal agencies; the private sector; and the university community to build off of the National Science Foundation investment in basic research in this essential area."

NWSC benefits Wyoming with jobs and education

UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi co-wrote this perspective about the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center with Randy Bruns (CEO of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Corporation for Economic Development) and William A. Gern (vice president for research and economic development at the University of Wyoming). The Cheyenne Tribune Eagle on March 28 published it as a guest column (subscription required).March 27, 2017 | With the recent news that the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) has acquired a new supercomputer that is three times faster than its predecessor, this is a good time to consider how much the center has contributed to Wyoming.The NWSC opened its doors in Cheyenne in October 2012 as one of the premier facilities for science in the United States. Operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), its key goals included accelerating scientific discovery nationwide, powering economic development in the Cheyenne area, expanding research and computing expertise at the University of Wyoming and improving technology education across the state.The new Cheyenne supercomputer at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)We're pleased to report major progress on all these fronts.The incredible power of the center's supercomputers enables scientists to glean new insights about our planet in ways that support its mission of saving lives, increasing U.S. economic competitiveness, and strengthening national security. One of the more exciting developments, for example, is how researchers at NCAR and partners from research universities, federal labs, and the private sector are using it to improve the prediction of weather patterns months in advance. That's the kind of intelligence that is vital to farmers, energy producers, shipping companies, and other planners in nearly every economic sector.In addition to its role in national research, the NWSC is producing at least three significant benefits here in Wyoming.First, it has emerged as a catalyst for economic development projects. After the NWSC opened, Microsoft committed to a significant data center complex next door, and EchoStar and Green House Data expanded their operations in Cheyenne. A small network of IT support companies has sprung up around them. The result: hundreds of new, high-paying jobs that have helped to insulate the region from the ups and downs of the energy industry.Second, the NWSC has helped propel UW into the upper ranks of research universities. The university has added cutting-edge science and technology classes and attracted top-flight professors from across the country. UW professors and students have priority access to the supercomputer, and they are conducting landmark research into such important topics as traditional and renewable energy, earthquakes, and wildfires.Third, it has improved technology education around the state. UW and NCAR have trained close to 100 Wyoming high school teachers to create lessons based on inexpensive miniature computers. Their students use them to write innovative software and run science experiments. Building on this success, UW is now embarking on a statewide initiative to help teachers in every high school get certified in computer science. Related efforts are also reaching adults, such as mid-career workers who need IT skills to make sure they remain competitive in the ever-changing job market.Well before the state's recent economy downturn, Wyoming began using technology to make inroads in diversifying its economy, aided by the presence of the NWSC. Thanks to access to world-class computing resources and increasingly sophisticated training, Wyoming is expanding technological opportunities for our youth within the state, starting with thousands of schoolchildren as young as first graders who have gotten their initial taste of supercomputing by touring the NWSC.The benefits have gone both ways. Designed for high-performance computing from the ground up, the NWSC provides NCAR with a reliable and energy-efficient home for systems that include high-speed data transfer, visualization, and storage. Scientists at NCAR and more than 100 university partners across the country have engaged in research that was never before possible, such as generating high-resolution simulations of the Sun that will help society better predict "space weather" — the powerful solar storms that periodically threaten orbiting satellites, global communications, and even the nation's electrical grid.When the NWSC opened, its flagship Yellowstone supercomputer ranked among the fastest in the world, capable of performing about 1.5 quadrillion calculations per second. This incredible computing power helped scientists across the country answer key questions about energy production and improve predictions of tornadoes, droughts, floods, and other natural hazards.Now the new NWSC supercomputer, named Cheyenne, more than triples that supercomputing capability. Ranked as the 20th fastest supercomputer in the world—and the fastest in the Mountain West—it will enable researchers to further expand the frontier of scientific knowledge.The NWSC was born from an innovative, public-private partnership that included the state of Wyoming; University of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; Black Hills Energy; NCAR; the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR; and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation. In less than five years of operation, it has already demonstrated the wisdom of that partnership.We are proud that the NWSC has spurred economic and educational benefits throughout Wyoming, while accelerating research across the United States. The NWSC has established itself as one of the leading supercomputing centers in the world, and we look forward to many more years of exciting research, education, and economic opportunity for the state of Wyoming and the nation.

Peggy Stevens

Communications OfficeCommunications Staff Administrative Assistant IIIpeggys@ucar.edu | 303-497-8601I support Rachael Drummond and the rest of the Communications Office for NCAR and UCAR, which is responsible for corporate and internal communications, media relations, and public affairs. UCAR is a nonprofit consortium of universities that manages the federally funded NCAR and provides additional research and education services through UCAR's community programs.My backgroundI have lived in the Boulder area for more than 30 years and joined NCAR & UCAR Communications in 2016. I have worked as an administrative assistant, technical services coordinator, customer service representative and office manager for nonprofits in the higher education and medical sectors. I have experience with Drupal, Project Management, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, contracts and business processes. I have an associate's degree in Secretarial Technology with Administrative Emphasis from Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska. I enjoy learning new software platforms!

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