2011 holiday party blends awards and memories

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Staff celebrated the holidays, honored each other's accomplishments, and gave Rick Anthes a grand farewell at the 2011 UCAR Awards Ceremony and Holiday Party, held at Center Green on December 16.

Staff members dressed as ABBA with Rick Anthes in the middle holding a guitar
Rick Anthes rocks out with the Beatles, as portrayed from their "Sgt. Pepper" era by The FourEver Fab! Band.

The party started in traditional fashion with a bluegrass performance by the Sizzle String Band, whose members included David Brown (CISL), Nan Rosenbloom (NESL/CGD), John Hernandez (CISL), Ed Snyder (CISL), Markus Stobbs (CISL), and Jeff Alipit (CISL). They were followed by the UCARolers, who roasted retiring UCAR president Rick Anthes with a reworking of ABBA’s 1976 smash “Fernando,” penned by Carl Drews, and an accompanying PowerPoint by Craig Hartsough, both of NESL/ACD. (Watch a video of the performance or read the lyrics.)

A series of speakers from UCAR/NCAR management then paid tribute to Rick, who transitions to a part-time position in January after 23 years as UCAR president. Among those saluting Rick and his accomplishments were Michael Morgan (NSF), Dennis Hartmann (UCAR Board of Trustees), Jim Hurrell (NESL director), Roger Wakimoto (NCAR director), Jack Fellows (UCAR vice president for corporate affairs and UCP director), and Katy Schmoll (UCAR vice president for finance and administration. Rick also received the first UCAR Legacy of Leadership Award, which pays tribute to the leadership training programs that Rick helped establish. Susan Montgomery-Hodge (executive assistant to the UCAR president), who served as master of ceremonies, then presented Rick with a memory book with contributions from staff and a framed 3-D collage by Lawrence Romorini at One of a Kind Art Studio that incorporates mementoes from Rick's career.

Roger Wakimoto announced winners of external awards. He was followed by Rick, who presented the 2011 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards. (See below for this year's winners; a complete list of nominations can be found here,and descriptions of each award and a list of all winners to date are on the UCAR/NCAR Honors and Awards page.) Staff then dined on a tasty spread cooked up by Event Services while the The FourEver Fab! Band kept the crowd moving with danceworthy renditions of Beatles tunes.


Terry and Dean receiving their award on stage.Distinguished Achievement Award

Terrence (Terry) Hock and Dean Lauritsen (EOL) for their leadership and central role in developing innovative new dropsonde technology as well as transformative delivery systems.  They expanded the capabilities of dropsonde technology in the following three areas:  the aircraft dropsonde systems AVAPS-II, used by aircraft for atmospheric  research and operational meteorology; the NCAR Driftsonde system, used to deliver up to 50 dropsondes each from a constellation of stratospheric balloons, achieving an unprecedented dataset; and the fully automatic NASA/NOAA Global Hawk (GH) unmanned aircraft (UAS) dropsonde system, extending aircraft dropsonde use to higher altitudes and longer flight durations than ever before. The use of these systems has meaningful benefits for research and important societal impacts. Without this work, accurate and reliable high-quality dropsondes would not be available for hurricane forecasts. The new capabilities and delivery systems also allow scientists to observe atmospheric phenomena from the tropics to the poles. All of this work has solidified UCAR’s reputation as “dropsonde central.”



Tom Warner's award being received on stage.
Tom Warner's posthumous award was received by Scott Swerdlin (RAL) and Tom's wife, Susan Warner. 


Outstanding Publication Award

Tom Warner (RAL), posthumously, for his book “Numerical Weather and Climate Prediction.” The book provides an exceptionally well-written account of the practical and cutting-edge aspects of numerical predictions, with a particular emphasis on understanding model processes, as well as their limitations and how errors affect solutions. It includes clear descriptions of best practices, predictability, operational forecasting, and a wide range of special applications of numerical models not found in previous textbooks. This volume is a comprehensive reflection of the author’s far-reaching experience gained through thirty years of teaching courses on numerical weather and climate prediction as well as mentoring a long line of graduate students and young professionals. Each chapter includes useful exercises and suggests further reading material. It is “a rich, effectively written and comprehensive detailed summary of the field of atmospheric modeling from local to global scales. It should be in the library of all meteorologists, climate researchers, and other scientists who are interested in the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of modeling.”  This textbook has already reached Cambridge University Press’s top-ten bestselling titles in atmospheric science and meteorology, despite its very recent publication. The author has written a standout textbook that provides a comprehensive yet accessible treatment of weather and climate predictions, which will serve graduate students, researchers, and professionals alike. 


Scientific and Technical AdvancementGroup photo of RAL winners

RAL's William Mahoney, Gerry Wiener, Bill Myers, Yubao Liu, David Johnson, Seth Linden, Will Cheng, Brice Lambi, Arnaud Dumont, Julia Pearson, Luca Delle Monache, Gregory Roux, Branko Kosovic, John Exby, Yuewei Liu, Frank McDonough, Becky Ruttenburg, Doug Small, Tom Hopson, Wanli Wu, Alemu Tadesse, and Sue Ellen Haupt, for the NCAR/RAL Wind Power Forecasting System that enables utilities to integrate large amounts of wind energy into the power grid by providing comprehensive forecasts of wind power generation. Accurate forecasts are crucial for efficient energy planning and resource management as well as for advancing the role of wind energy as a major component of our national energy supply. The RAL team has collaborated with Xcel Energy over the past 2.5 years to develop an advanced wind power prediction system. Implementation of the system has resulted in a 40% reduction in wind energy prediction error, improving the integration of wind power into the electric grid and, in 2010 alone, saved Xcel Energy rate-payers $6 million. This wind energy forecasting system is widely considered—nationally and internationally—to be the most advanced system of its kind. A NOAA evaluation of the system’s performance skill and associated cost savings conducted for the Utility Wind Integration Group concluded that a national rollout of NCAR’s system would save the nation’s utilities approximately $4.5 billion per year.


Award winners on stage receiving award Education and Outreach

Rita Roberts and Jim Wilson (both RAL), for teaching students, scientists, and weather forecasters how to make better forecasts of convective weather. They do this with the Autonowcaster, a forecast decision system that incorporates much of their research and is now operational in selected U.S. National Weather Service, Army, and international forecast offices.  They are nationally and internationally recognized for their expertise in short-term forecasting of thunderstorms and for their commitment to share their knowledge with others. They have taught at 15 international scientific workshops in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization and National Weather Service in the U.S. and abroad, conducted focused training programs, created interactive learning modules and other instructional materials, and hosted long-term visitors sent to NCAR for more intensive training. The impact of their work is profound. In giving the gift of information, knowledge, and skills, they have created new scientific capabilities for teachers and students, and for weather forecasters serving the general public. 


Boon Chye Low receiving his award,Mentoring Award

Boon Chye (BC) Low (HAO), for enhancing the professional development of numerous students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior scientists at NCAR through his exemplary and sustained mentoring efforts. Beyond providing his protégés scientific and technical guidance, BC has inspired them with his enthusiasm and wisdom.  He is, on the one hand, selfless in devoting his time and effort to providing an enriching and supportive environment for his protégés, while also treating them as equals and giving them independence and freedom in their research and development. During his 30-year-long productive scientific career, BC has continually mentored young scientists of great diversity (including many women as well as people of different ethnicities, nationalities, and scientific backgrounds) at all stages of their career development. He has supervised a total of 12 Advanced Study Program and HAO postdoctoral fellows, two of which he mentored in the past five years.  He directly supervised the doctoral thesis research of three Ph.D. students and has supervised or co-supervised the research of seven other undergraduate and graduate students.  BC’s outstanding mentoring efforts exemplify how NCAR, as an interdisciplinary research center, can support the university community in training the next generation of young scientists.


Christine Wiedinmyer receiving her award.Diversity Award

Christine Wiedinmyer (NESL/ACD), for her innovative and continuing activities to reduce obstacles and enhance opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups in the geosciences. Her leadership and vision in forming the highly successful Earth Science Women’s Network, or ESWN, is a prime example. As a founding member and serving on the leadership board, Christine helped establish the ESWN peer-mentoring network to retain and promote women in the Earth Sciences, promoting their careers from graduate students to post-doc to faculty to tenured positions. With 750 members and nearly 2,000 subscribers to its discussion boards and email lists, the ESWN community continues to benefit from Christine’s active involvement. To quote one letter of support: "Christine has become almost a household name’ among early career women in the geosciences. Through her efforts with ESWN and other activities, she is having a major and measurable impact on the careers of hundreds of women today, which will certainly lead to a substantially more diverse and vibrant community for UCAR and the geosciences community in the future.”



Rick Anthes

(To the tune of "Fernando," by ABBA)

(Watch video.)

Do you see the lights, Rick Anthes?
I remember long ago another endless night like this
In the Mesa Lab, Rick Anthes
You were humming to yourself and quickly writing Fortran code.
And when you compiled
The lights on the computer panel gently flicked and glowed

When the model ran, Rick Anthes
Every hour every minute seemed to last eternally
It was error-free, Rick Anthes!
We were young and full of joy to see the megabytes go by,
And I'm not ashamed to say those plots of gridded data almost made me cry

There was something in the air that night, reflected light, Rick Anthes
It was longwave radiation there, up in the air, Rick Anthes
Though we never knew what we could do
There's no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Rick Anthes

If I had to do those runs again
I would, my friend, Rick Anthes

That was long ago, Rick Anthes
Since many years I haven't seen a punchcard in your hand
Do you see the lights, Rick Anthes?
Do you still recall that fateful night we first ran MM5?
I can see it in your eyes Those winds and isobars made us feel so alive

Yes If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Rick Anthes

If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Rick Anthes.