UCAR

Media Advisory: Adapting to U.S. Climate Change

  Regional Climate Media Advisory Transition & Other Recent Reports Experts Multimedia Gallery   Press Briefing and National Teleconference: Monday, December 15 9:00–9:45 a.m. Pacific Time (7:00 a.m. ET) Reporters wishing to participate can contact: Rachael Drummond, rachaeld@ucar.edu, 303-497-8604; or David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu, 303-497-8611. SAN FRANCISCO—As computer models of climate become increasingly powerful, researchers are working toward predictions of climate change impacts in specific regions and even metropolitan areas. But are local and regional decision makers taking advantage of this science to begin to prepare for the impacts of global warming? Three of the nation's leading experts on climate change and public policy will participate in a press conference on December 15 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. They will discuss the array of challenges facing cities and states, ranging from more frequent heat waves and droughts to higher costs for reliable water supplies, emergency services, and electricity. While some leaders, such as those in Chicago, are mapping out their climate future, others are not yet focusing on climate change impacts to their communities. Reporters who cannot attend the December 15 press conference in person can call in to listen and ask questions. Panelists Jack Fellows UCAR vice president for corporate affairs Fellows oversees a range of research, education, and administrative activities that support the atmospheric science community. He is working with eight leading science organizations to advise the incoming Obama administration and Congress on protecting the nation from the impacts of severe weather and climate change. Prior to joining UCAR in 1997, Fellows served as branch chief for the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he oversaw budget and policy issues related to NASA, the National Science Foundation, and federal research and development programs. He also helped initiate the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Early in his career, he was selected as an American Geophysical Union Congressional Science Fellow and worked on such policy issues as water resources, satellite remote sensing, and research and development. Fellows holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Maryland.   Jonathan Overpeck Co-director of the Institute for Environment and Society at the University of Arizona, professor of geosciences, and professor of atmospheric sciences Overpeck oversees a climate assessment of the Southwest as part of the NOAA-led Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, with particular focus on water availability and land cover change in coming decades. The assessment efforts are in support of decision making related to both climate change adaptation and mitigation. Overpeck specializes in climate dynamics, including paleoclimate; interactions between climate and ecosystems; and climate assessments for decision makers. His primary focus is on the Southwest, but he has active projects around the globe and has played a leading international role in coordinating scientific working groups on climate variability and change. He was a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Overpeck holds a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Brown University.   Donald Wuebbles Professor of atmospheric sciences and electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Wuebbles is working with policymakers in Chicago on developing strategies to help the city prepare for heat waves, precipitation changes, and other likely results of global warming. He has led assessments of the potential impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes region and the Northeast, and studied national impacts of climate change. He worked as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In addition to his work on climate, Wuebbles is an expert in air quality and ozone. His research into ozone depletion in the 1970s and 1980s helped guide policies to protect the ozone layer. He serves on the International Ozone Commission. Wuebbles holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of California at Davis.

Lessons learned from Google: Toward a participatory model of atmospheric science

Raj Pandya
Director, SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) and UCAR Community Building Program

Raj Pandya

Bus, shuttle, bike, dial in

It’s an insecure world out there, with financial meltdowns and rising fuel and food prices—not to mention a warming climate. If there’s a bike in the back of your garage collecting dust, this might be the time to dust it off and burn calories instead of crude. Never used your Eco Pass? Hint: it’s that little sticker on your employee ID card. Just show it to the bus driver when you board.

Weather and health

December 04, 2008 | A new UCAR COMET course, Weather and Health, will help meteorologists and others broaden their understanding of the impacts of weather and climate on public health. The two-hour module covers the health impacts of heat waves, cold events, storms, floods, drought, poor air quality, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfire, ultraviolet radiation, and more. It encompasses everyday and extreme weather as well as interconnections between weather and health, and features a game that lets participants test their knowledge. The course, which was developed with funding from the National Environmental Education Foundation, is designed in particular for broadcast meteorologists, as they play a critical role in promoting good health and helping communities protect themselves from weather-related health threats. It includes a section with story ideas for broadcast meteorologists along with tips on weather and health for their viewers. The course also describes the public health communication system and provides information about reliable public health services, tools, and resources. Course participants can access a full image gallery of all the images used and the complete narration transcript. COMET plans to make video podcasts of each section available for mobile use.

Health and Weather: UCAR Weather Forecasts Aim to Reduce African Meningitis Epidemics

BOULDER—The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), working with an international team of health and weather organizations, is launching a project this month to provide long-term weather forecasts to medical officials in Africa to help reduce outbreaks of meningitis. The forecasts will enable local health providers to target vaccination programs more effectively for this deadly disease, which is correlated with dry and dusty conditions. "We're applying our expertise in weather forecasting to assist health care officials on the front lines of this disease," says Rajul Pandya, director of UCAR's Community Building Program. "By targeting forecasts in regions where meningitis is a threat, we may be able to help vulnerable populations. Ultimately, we hope to build on this project and provide information to public health programs battling weather-related diseases in other parts of the world." The meningitis belt in Africa (shown in dark orange) extends from Senegal to Ethiopia. [ENLARGE] (Map courtesy U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Funding for the project comes from a $900,000 grant from Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Internet search company. The award is part of the Google.org Predict and Prevent program, which aims to help map "hot spots" of emerging infectious diseases around the world. The project draws on forecasting and health experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which is managed by UCAR. UCAR is working with a number of organizations on the initiative, including leading African health and weather centers and Meningitis Environmental Risk Information Technologies, a consortium of climate and health institutions under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Other partners include the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, North Carolina State University, and the World Meteorological Organization. Africa's meningitis belt Epidemics of bacterial meningitis break out periodically across sub-Saharan Africa's so-called meningitis belt, which stretches across the continent from Senegal to Ethiopia. The disease affects the meninges, the thin linings that surround the brain and spinal cord, and is often fatal. In Africa, more than 250,000 people fell ill and 25,000 died in 1996 and 1997 in the world's largest recorded outbreak of epidemic meningitis. The epidemics usually end with the onset of the summer rainy season. Researchers are uncertain why dry and dusty conditions are correlated with the disease. Some theorize that it may have to do with the mucous linings in people's respiratory systems becoming irritated by the dusty conditions. Others suspect changes in social behavior: residents tend to stay indoors during the dusty season, facilitating the spread of the disease. Health clinics in the meningitis belt are planning to turn to a new vaccine, known as conjugate A, to try to reduce disease transmission. But they are limited by the number of vaccines that have been manufactured and the logistical difficulties in trying to reach populations in remote areas. The weather forecasts will enable them to focus on regions that are most at risk while pulling back from areas that are about to get rain. "Working closely with both the meteorologists and local public health officials will allow us to more effectively target vaccines to at-risk populations in areas with limited resources," says Mary Hayden, a medical anthropologist at NCAR. Rajul Pandya [ENLARGE] (©UCAR, photo by Carlye Calvin.) News media terms of use* Predicting the rain Over the next year, the project leaders will focus on Ghana, a country hard-hit by meningitis outbreaks in the past and one where UCAR has contacts in the meteorological and public health communities. They will seek input from local officials in designing the forecasts to be as useful as possible in vulnerable areas. NCAR meteorologists will begin issuing 14-day forecasts of atmospheric conditions in Ghana in 2009 by analyzing computer models run by such agencies as the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction. To make reliable predictions, they will use statistical techniques to zero in on the meningitis belt, giving greater weight to models that generate the most accurate forecasts under specific conditions. The forecasters will also look at upper-atmospheric patterns that could indicate the impending start to the rainy season. During the subsequent two years, UCAR plans to work closely with health experts from several African countries to design and test a decision support system that will provide health officials with useful meteorological information. One of the biggest challenges will be to disseminate the forecasts to health officials on the ground. "We can certainly generate forecasts using the latest technologies, but the goal is to get that information to the people who need it in time for them to use it," Pandya says. "If we can make that happen, this system has significant potential to save lives."

UCAR Signs Agreement to Manage NCAR

BOULDER—The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has signed an agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue management of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for five years, with the possibility of a five-year extension. The agreement was signed last week. UCAR, a consortium of 73 universities, has managed the center since its founding in 1960. In 2006, for the first time, NSF opened the management of NCAR to competitive proposals. According to Clifford Jacobs, who oversees NCAR at NSF, the reviewers recommended "unanimously and without reservation" that UCAR be awarded a new agreement, citing NCAR as a world leader in its field. NCAR is a leading center of climate research, and several dozen of its scientists shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The center also studies severe weather, air pollution, upper atmosphere phenomena, the Sun, and the societal impacts of weather and climate. It works with meteorologists worldwide to improve forecasting and better protect society from weather hazards. Richard Anthes, president of UCAR, signs the new cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Looking on are UCAR personnel who were central to the agreement negotiations. Left to right: Katy Schmoll, vice president for finance and administration; Jeff Reaves, associate vice president for business services; Gina Taberski, manager of sponsored agreements; and Meg McClellan, UCAR general counsel. [ENLARGE] (©UCAR, photo by Carlye Calvin.) News media terms of use* "We're very gratified by this vote of confidence from the community and NSF," says Richard Anthes, UCAR president. "It acknowledges a unique partnership among the research community, the national center, and the National Science Foundation." Anthes adds that he's looking forward to implementing plans that have been submitted to NSF. "Our work with our national and international partners in the next five to ten years could literally be critical to the health of the planet," he says. UCAR is a consortium of 73 North American universities with Ph.D. programs in the atmospheric sciences and related disciplines. It is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, also the site of NCAR.

Hands-on Fun with Energy at Super Science Saturday, October 25

BOULDER—Kids and parents can enjoy hands-on fun while learning about energy at Super Science Saturday this month at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This free annual family event will be held on October 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Throughout the day, NCAR's "Science Wizards" will conduct experiments and demonstrations with various energy sources. This year's event will also highlight the sustainability of natural resources, with opportunities for families to learn about renewable energy, recycling, and composting. Xcel Energy will provide an interactive display of its new SmartGridCity technology, teaching kids and parents about the effects of their energy choices. Other highlights of the day include face painting, a hand-crank kid-powered train, Segway rides for children who are 12 and older, and a super sticky Velcro wall. Super Science Saturday is designed to promote public science literacy and provide memorable science experiences for families. Participants include the Wild Bear Center for Nature Discovery, University of Colorado Science Discovery, Colorado State University's "Little Shop of Physics," the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Windows to the Universe, Fiske Planetarium, and others. The day is sponsored by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Office of Education and Outreach, Friends of UCAR, and KMGH Channel 7. Kids have fun with science at Super Science Saturday. [ENLARGE] (©UCAR, photo by Carlye Calvin.) News media terms of use* The event takes place at NCAR's Mesa Lab, located at the west end of Table Mesa Drive in Boulder. The Mesa Lab's exhibits, art galleries, and science store will be open all day. The store features science kits, educational toys, books for all age levels, clothing, and more. NCAR Science Wizard demonstrations will be held at 10:30 a.m., 12 noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. Visitors can purchase lunch and snacks in the cafeteria. For more information, the public may call 303-497-1174.

Great World Wide Star Count: Light pollution to be mapped by thousands of citizen scientists around the world this month

BOULDER—Schoolchildren, families, and citizen scientists around the world will gaze skyward after dark from October 20 to November 3, looking for specific constellations and then sharing their observations through the Internet. The Great World Wide Star Count, now in its second year, helps scientists map light pollution globally while educating participants about the stars. The event, which is free and open to everyone who wants to participate, is organized by the Windows to the Universe project at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), in conjunction with planetariums and scientific societies across the country and abroad. Funding is provided by the National Science Foundation. "The star count brings families together to enjoy the night sky and become involved in science," says Dennis Ward of UCAR's Office of Education and Outreach. "It also raises awareness about the impact of artificial lighting on our ability to see the stars." Thousands of participants observed the night sky during the 2007 Great World Wide Star Count. For additional maps, click here. (©UCAR, background image courtesy Tom Patterson, National Park Service.) The 2007 star count drew 6,624 observations taken on all seven continents, and organizers expect the number of participants to double this year. UCAR used last year's observations to generate maps of star visibility across the United States and around the world. The results show a strong correlation between development and a lack of night sky visibility. Next year, the star count will be included in a cornerstone project of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union and the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to promote interest in astronomy. How the count works Participants in the Northern Hemisphere will look for the constellation Cygnus, while those in the Southern Hemisphere will look for Sagittarius. They will then match their observations with magnitude charts downloaded from the Great World Wide Star Count Web site (see below). The site contains instructions for finding the constellations and other event details, and it links to background about astronomy on the Windows to the Universe Web site. Participants may make observations outside their homes or go to less developed areas where more stars are visible. Those in overcast areas who cannot see stars will be able to input data about cloud conditions instead. Bright outdoor lighting at night is a growing problem for astronomical observing programs around the world. By searching for the same constellations in their respective hemispheres, participants in the Great World Wide Star Count will be able to compare their observations with what others see, giving them a sense of how star visibility varies from place to place. The observers will also learn more about the economic and geographic factors that control light pollution in their communities and around the world. "Last year's results showed a strong correlation between dense development, where there is a lot of light, and a lack of star visibility," Ward says. "Without even being aware of it, many of us have lost the ability to see many stars at night. Part of our goal is getting people to look up and regain an appreciation of the night sky." The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is a consortium of 70 universities offering Ph.D.s in the atmospheric and related sciences. UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the UCAR Office of Programs (UOP).

COMET's international reach

Foreign visitors are hardly a rarity at NCAR and UOP, but it’s not every day that a meeting draws 27 participants from 24 countries. COMET’s international hydrometeorological analysis and forecasting course, held June 9–27, brought scientists from every region covered by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to Boulder to learn more about the weather and hydrology behind floods and other water-related hazards.

Weather and Climate Leaders National Teleconference

  News Release Press Teleconference Transition Document Previous Transition Documents   Listen to MP3 of National Teleconference   BOULDER—Representatives from leading science organizations will take part in a national media teleconference at 12:00 noon Eastern Time today to urge the next presidential administration and Congress to better protect the nation from the impacts of severe weather and climate change. The eight science organizations are releasing a document, which will be provided to the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama, that outlines specific steps to strengthen science and help national and local decision makers. The full transition document, "Advice to the New Administration and Congress: Actions to Make Our Nation Resilient to Severe Weather and Climate Change," can be found here. Top officials with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the American Meteorological Society, and the Weather Coalition will take part in the teleconference. The other five organizations that wrote the document are the American Geophysical Union, the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and the Alliance for Earth Observations. Collectively they represent thousands of scientists, technology specialists, public policy analysts, and other experts. More than a quarter of the U.S. gross national product, or over $2 trillion, is sensitive to weather and climate events, according to the report. Climate change has the potential to lead to more extreme events.   Panelists Jack Fellows UCAR vice president for corporate affairs Fellows oversees a range of administrative, research, and education activities that support the atmospheric science community. He served from 1984 to 1997 as branch chief in the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he managed budget and policy issues related to NASA, the National Science Foundation, and federal research and development programs. He also helped initiate the U.S. Global Change Research Program. He holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Maryland.   Keith Seitter American Meteorological Society executive director Seitter manages the daily operations of the nation's leading professional society for the atmospheric and related sciences. He joined the AMS in the early 1990s as assistant to the executive director and served as deputy director from 1999 to 2004. Before that Seitter was on the faculty of the University of Lowell (now the University of Massachusetts at Lowell). He is a fellow of the AMS and of the Royal Meteorological Society and serves on a number of advisory boards for professional organizations in the sciences and scholarly publishing. He holds a Ph.D. in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago.   John Snow Weather Coalition co-chair and dean of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma Snow has chaired the UCAR Board of Trustees and the Board on Oceans and Atmosphere for the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a member of the budget and finance committee for the American Geophysical Union, and a senior editor for the journal Atmospheric Research. Snow holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from Purdue University.

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