Outstanding Accomplishment Awards

Staff Nominees for 2016 Honors

| Listed below are the UCAR 2016 Outstanding Accomplishment Award nominations. For the description and criteria of each award category, please go to: https://www2.fin.ucar.edu/policies/6-14-employee-recognition-awards

The UCAR Awards Jury did not award a winner in either the Administrative Achievement or the Diversity categories of the Outstanding Accomplishments Awards. The jury also did not award a winner in UCAR's highest awards category, the Distinguished Achievement.

Winners will be announced on December 9 at the 2016 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards and Holiday Celebration in the Center Green auditorium. To find out more, see About NCAR & UCAR Awards to Staff or check out previous winners.

Publication Nominations

Gabriele Pfister (ACOM), Jean-Francois Lamarque (ACOM), Jerome Fast (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), Mary Barth (ACOM/MMM), James Done (MMM), Greg Holland (MMM), and Cindy Bruyere (MMM)

Gabriele Pfister, Stacy Walters, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Jerome Fast, Mary Barth, James Done, Greg Holland, Cindy Bruyere, Projections of Future Summertime Ozone over the U.S., J. Geophys. Res., 119, 55595582, doi:10.1002/2013JD020932, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2013JD020932

The issues of air quality and climate change are incontrovertibly linked. Warmer temperatures and related changes in atmospheric composition spur chemical reactions that increase overall levels of surface ozone. The nominated paper used multi-year high-resolution fully coupled regional chemistry-climate simulations to show that ozone pollution across the continental U.S. will become far more difficult to curtail with expected changes in climate. Unless emissions of specific ozone precursor pollutants are sharply cut over the continental U.S., most of the country will experience more summer days with unhealthy air by 2050. However, the research also showed that a sharp reduction in the emissions of such pollutants would lead to significantly decreased levels of harmful ground-level ozone even as temperatures warm.

This study confirmed the key role of local emission control strategies in future air quality projections and demonstrated the need for considering degradation of air quality with future climate change in policy making. When combined with results from global chemistry-climate simulations, this work also illustrated the need for high-resolution modeling when the objective is to address regional and local air quality or establish links to human health and society.

To our knowledge, this was the first time regional chemistry climate simulations had been conducted at high spatial resolution and spanning multiple years, as is required to account for interannual variations. This work was accomplished because of the new capabilities provided by the Yellowstone supercomputer, thereby serving as a showcase of how technological advances can translate into advances in science.

Kevin Trenberth (CGD), John Fasullo (CGD), and T.G. Shepherd (University of Reading, Reading UK)

Trenberth, K. E., J. T. Fasullo, and T. G. Shepherd, 2015: Attribution of climate extreme events. Nat. Clim. Change, 5, 725-730; doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2657, http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n8/full/nclimate2657.html

This paper, already highly cited (56), has successfully introduced a major new direction in attribution of extreme climate events. The latter is a highly visible topic, featured frequently in the media after just about every major climate event, whether a flood, drought, wildfire, hurricane or snowstorm. Yet it has been difficult to achieve useful informative statements and headlines attributing an event to either human-induced climate change or natural variability, because it is very misleading when both are invariably in play. The traditional approach assesses how the weather system might have changed from climate change influences; it requires many climate model runs with and without climate change present to sort out how unusual the weather event was and how the odds were changed by climate change. Because of the infinite natural variety of weather and the often-uncertain nature of the human influences, such changes are mostly very small and lost in the noise. The huge computational demand precludes the near real-time commentary required by the media. This paper advocates a different framing, and proposes that it is more useful to regard the extreme circulation regime or weather event as being secondary, and instead focus on the effects of the well-established changes in the environment from global warming on the impacts of the particular event. The paper represents a “game changer” and major “breakthrough” and “will surely become a classic work of great relevance to both the science and to society” (to quote reference letters). It has been featured in many media.

Y. Li (University of Saskatchewan) and Rit Carbone (Emeritus EOL)

Yanping Li and R.E. Carbone, Oct 2012, Excitation of Rainfall over the Tropical Western Pacific, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 69, 2983-2994. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-11-0245.1

EOL is proud to nominate “Excitation of Tropical Rainfall over the Tropical Western Pacific,” published in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences for the 2016 Outstanding Publication Award. The initiation and variability of tropical oceanic convection has been, up until this point, not well understood, poorly forecasted, and represented inaccurately in weather and climate modeling systems. The authors of the nominated paper provide a paradigm-altering view on this problem by analyzing local-scale (on the order of 100 km) sea surface temperatures (SST) gradients as the forcing mechanism for tropical convection. Their research is unlike most other studies on this topic that examine larger, regional-scale forcing to determine the influence of SST on convective rainfall distribution.

The authors’ findings indicate that the onset of tropical rainfall occurs greater than 75% of the time on a localized convergent SST gradient, which coincides with mixed layer convergence. They also show that this local-scale forcing is an order of magnitude larger than regional-scale forcing provided by the SST. This allows the authors to conclude that localized gradients of SST are likely the cause of convective rainfall onset in the warm pool of the tropical Pacific. The implication of these findings on weather and climate forecasts cannot be overstated, and in fact there are illustrative examples of how this process could lead to improved forecasts of extreme weather events. The impacts of these findings stretch beyond academia, as there are efforts underway to parameterize these features in operational numerical weather prediction models.

Scott McIntosh (HAO), Bart De Pontieu (Lockheed Martin), Mats Carlsson (University  of Oslo, Oslo Norway), Viggo Hansteen (Univ of Oslo), Paul Boerner (Lockheed Martin), and Marcel Goossens (Centre for Mathematical Plasma Astrophysics, University of Leuven, Belgium)

“Alfvénic waves with sufficient energy to power the quiet solar corona and fast solar wind”, Nature 475, 477–480 (28 July 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10235. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v475/n7357/full/nature10235.html

Understanding how the solar (or stellar) outer atmosphere, the corona, is heated to a temperature that is orders of magnitude higher than the temperature of its visible surface is a major challenge in Astrophysics. Magnetic fields dominate the dynamics of the solar atmosphere and the Alfvén waves, transvers oscillations that propagate along the magnetic field lines have been proposed as a major means to transport the mechanical energy of magneto-convection at the surface upward into the corona and provide the energy deposition necessary to sustain the hot corona and its    continued expansion into interplanetary space, the solar wind. The paper: “Alfvénic waves with sufficient energy to power the quiet solar corona and fast solar wind” by Scott McIntosh, Bart De Pontieu, Mats Carlsson, Viggo Hansteen, Paul Boerner, and Marcel Goossens, has analyzed extreme ultraviolet (EUV) imaging of the Sun with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions provided by the Atmospheric  Image Assembly (AIA) on board the NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellite to detect and measure Alfvén wave motions in the solar atmosphere. They found that Alfvén waves are ubiquitous and that the measured energy flux is sufficient for heating the quite sun corona and accelerate the fast solar wind in corona holes. For the first time, quantitative measurement of Alfvén waves with sufficient energy are detected in the solar corona, putting the important role of Alfvén waves in coronal heating and solar wind acceleration in solid observational footings.

Bill Skamarock (MMM), Michael Duda (MMM), Laura Fowler (MMM), Joe Klemp (MMM), Sang-Hun Park (MMM), and Todd Ringler (Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Skamarock, W. C., J. B. Klemp, M. G. Duda, L. D. Fowler, S-H Park, and T. D. Ringler, 2012: A multiscale nonhydrostatic atmospheric model using centroidal Voronoi tesselations and C-Grid staggering, Mon. Wea. Rev. 140, 3090-3105. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/MWR-D-11-00215.1

Skamarock et al. (2012) detail the formulation, implementation and results of a novel atmospheric solver for non-hydrostatic global models. Global models are the bedrock for numerical weather prediction and climate projection. The development of a global model robust enough for climate simulations, yet powerful enough to resolve individual thunderstorms, represents a major scientific achievement that promises to unify Earth-system simulations of weather and climate. The MPAS fluid solver on an unstructured mesh, whose mesh density varies smoothly across the globe, represents a creative solution that overcomes previous limitations of global models with varying horizontal resolution while maintaining excellent computational scaling. Its variable resolution approach does away with lateral boundary conditions that have historically hindered the usefulness of regional models, or nest boundaries that have posed difficulties in global models.

The techniques described in the paper have already been highly influential on the development of other models. The paper is highly cited and has penetrated journals in multiple disciplines. Since the publication of the paper, researchers have conducted prediction and predictability experiments with MPAS that were previously not feasible.

Martyn Clark (RAL), Dmitri Kavetski (University of Adelaide), and Fabrizio Fenicia (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

Clark, M., D. Kavetski, and F. Fenicia, 2011: Pursuing the method of multiple working hypotheses for hydrological modeling. Water Resources Research, 47, W09301, DOI: 10.1029/2010WR009827. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010WR009827

RAL nominates Martyn Clark (NCAR/RAL), Dmitri Kavetski (now at the University of Adelaide), and Fabrizio Fenicia (now at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) for the 2016 UCAR Outstanding Publication Award. With their thought-provoking paper, Clark et al. elucidate issues that have plagued hydrology for decades. They argue that the ongoing quest for physically realistic catchment-scale models, including more appropriate representations of heterogeneous hydrological processes, needs to be embedded in a flexible hypothesis-testing framework that rigorously scrutinizes hypotheses against observed data. Following such a recipe, multiple-hypothesis approaches can become useful learning tools and lead to considerably more scientifically defensible and operationally reliable hydrological models. The Clark et al. paper has already shown a profound impact on the hydrology and land-surface modeling communities. It has stirred substantial discussions among diverse schools of thought and garnered extraordinarily numerous citations. Moreover, this seminal paper has inspired wide-ranging new research and development efforts, including a new flagship effort to unify land models across NCAR.

Mentoring Nominations

Ned Patton (MMM)

Ned Patton, currently a Project Scientist III in MMM, has engaged in mentoring of numerous early-career scientists during the past decade. The mentees have either been postdoctoral fellows (mainly with the Advanced Study Program) or long-term visitors. Ned has provided exceptional instruction on LES modeling and interpretation of observations over this time, often mentoring multiple scientists simultaneously. This is made more remarkable because Ned has been largely funded by external grants for which mentoring activities unrelated to the specific project are unfunded. Thus, he has had to carve out mentoring as an activity above and beyond his project responsibilities. Nonetheless, Ned has been able to sustain substantive mentoring and training of numerous scientists that often profoundly altered their career trajectories in positive ways. Furthermore, Ned’s reputation is such that scientists have come increasingly to him for advice, technical consultation and collaboration. Ned singlehandedly bolsters the reputation of NCAR by launching careers, and establishing long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations. And, because many of the mentees are female, Ned has increased the representation of women in atmospheric science.

Stan Solomon (HAO)

This nomination recognizes Dr. Stan Solomon of the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) and NCAR Directorate for his dedicated mentoring efforts that directly enhance the professional development of numerous scientists at all stages of their careers, from undergraduates to post-doctoral scientists and beyond. Throughout his tenure at NCAR Stan has mentored staff and numerous scientists at various stages of their careers. He has provided guidance for seven post-doctoral researchers, including two within the last five years. He has directly supervised two graduate students and advised numerous more, including seven in the last five years. Five members of the AIM scientific staff consider Stan a mentor and have benefited from his guidance over their careers, including advice within the last five years. Additionally, during his time in the senior leadership of the Observatory he mentored to two administrative staff members who have since gone on to distinguished careers at NCAR.

Education and Outreach Nominations

Tim Barnes (SciEd), Carolyn Brinkworth (NCAR Directorate DEO),  Bruce Carmichael (RAL), Eileen Carpenter (SciEd), Rachael Drummond (UCAR COMMS), Teresa Eastburn (SciEd), Teresa Foster (CGD), Zhenya Gallon (UCAR COMMS), Cindy Halley Gotway (RAL), Rachel Hauser (MMM/NCAR and UCAR), James Hurrell (NCAR Directorate),  Joanie Keypas (CGD), Paul Martinez (UCAR IT MMS), David Maddy (UCAR Maintenance), Scott McIntosh (HAO), Marissa Miller (Food Literacy Center, Sacramento), Marc Mueller (UCP SciEd), Frank Purcell (UCAR Safety), Stephanie Reichlin (EOL), Jadwiga (Yaga) H. Richter (CGD), Sheryl Shapiro (HAO), Laura Snider (UCAR COMMS), Rebecca Swisher (UCAR COMMS), Kevin Trenberth (CGD), Marijke Unger (CISL), Jeff Van Damme (UCAR IT MMS), and Lara Ziady (RAL)

The Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory is pleased to nominate the NCAR Explorer Series Team for the UCAR Education and Outreach award based on their outstanding efforts in organizing and hosting this new public outreach series. The NCAR Explorer Series consisted of four quarterly lectures on NCAR research of direct relevance to the public, given twice to accommodate the significant community interest. The lectures were also broadcast via UCAR Live and are archived on UCAR Connect. They have already received over 2,700 views. This effort was only possible due to the close collaboration of staff from NCAR and UCAR, led by a scientist in CGD. Twenty-seven individuals are nominated for their commitment and outstanding effort to engage the public. In addition to novel and successful public outreach, the NCAR Explorer Series created synergy between numerous individuals at NCAR and UCAR passionate about public outreach.

Mark Miesch (HAO)

This nomination recognizes Dr. Mark Miesch of the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) for his supreme dedication to Education & Outreach. Dr. Mark Miesch has dedicated much of his work, and private time, over the years in the dual areas of Education & Outreach while performing at high levels as a Scientist III. Mark’s activities have very broad impact: from K-12 through graduate, from small-scale local events to regional science centers and global initiatives, developing novel observatory concepts to composing and compiling materials for television and film. Mark has an infectious love for science and understanding and is an extremely effective science advocate.

Becca Hatheway (SciEd)

Over the last two years, Becca Hatheway has led the development of two powerful educational experiences that literally impact “K-Gray” audiences about the importance of understanding climate change. Becca has led the development a new UCAR|NCAR Climate Change exhibition at the NCAR Mesa Lab and a new Elementary GLOBE children’s storybook and related activities on climate change. Together, these two resources represent excellence in Earth systems science education that is unparalleled in the United States and indeed the world. Becca Hatheway has contributed her talent and expertise, leadership skills, and long-term dedication to conceptualize and complete two exceptional resources that will positively impact learning for decades.

Scientific and/or Technical Advancement Nominations

Laura Pan (ACOM), Elliot Atlas (University of Miami), and Ross Salawitch (University of Maryland)

Acting as a virtual global chimney, persistent deep convection in the tropical Western Pacific (TWP) region defines the chemical composition and physical and radiative characteristics of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Furthermore, the tropical atmosphere as a whole is the heart of the photochemical engine that determines the global fate of many climate relevant trace gases. A long-standing scientific challenge has been to measure the chemical characteristics of the remote tropical atmosphere, from sea surface to the stratosphere, and quantify the impacts of chemical transformations and transport on both oxidative and radiative characteristics. The Convective Transport of Active Species in the Tropics (CONTRAST) campaign was designed to address this challenge. Using the GV aircraft, CONTRAST investigated the vertical distribution of chemical species over the TWP in Jan-Feb 2014. CONTRAST is an example of a successful international, multi-agency collaboration, combining with the NASA ATTREX project (using the UAS Global Hawk) and the UK CAST project (using BAe146 aircraft) to provide unprecedented TWP measurements from the sea surface to the stratosphere (20 km). These observations have led to discoveries on processes that control tropical tropospheric ozone. The nominees led the design and operation of this experiment, including the formation of the science team, the design of the payload and flight scenarios, daily forecasting and planning, coordination with ATTREX and CAST teams and the publishing of new discoveries. The conceptualization, design and conduct of the CONTRAST campaign is an exemplar for future “whole atmosphere” measurement-model studies.

Greg Stossmeister (EOL), John Allison (EOL), Erik Johnson (EOL), Scot Loehrer (EOL), and Susan Stringer (EOL)

EOL is proud to nominate Greg Stossmeister, John Allison, Erik Johnson, Scot Loehrer and Susan Stringer, all members of EOL’s Computing, Data and Software Facility (CDS), for the 2016 UCAR Outstanding Accomplishment Award for Science and Technology. This group envisioned and successfully implemented Version 2 of the EOL Field Catalog, a web-based collaborative tool that has become an invaluable staple for complex field campaigns, especially those involving the coordination of non-fixed assets such as mobile radars, mobile mesonets and aircraft. Despite a rather utilitarian name, the EOL Field Catalog is a sophisticated software tool that assists scientific researchers and operational crews in a gamut of project and mission critical tasks including mission planning, real-time decision-making, communications, operations monitoring, preliminary data sharing, and project documentation. This nomination is in recognition of this group’s sustained efforts over the last four years to revamp the Field Catalog by using the latest in software technology to rewrite code, add new features, and turn it into a mobile-friendly tool that works reliably across the globe.

Alan Burns (HAO), Ben Foster (retired HAO), Maura Hagan (Utah State University), Hanli Liu (HAO), Jing Liu (HAO), Gang Lu (HAO), Astrid Maute (HAO), Joe McInerney (HAO), Nick Pedatella (HAO), Liying Qian (HAO), Art Richmond (HAO), Ray Roble (HAO), Cheng Sheng(HAO), Stan Solomon (HAO), Wenbin Wang (HAO), Mike Wiltberger (HAO), Qian Wu (HAO), Binzheng Zhang (HAO), and Eric Sutton (Air Force Research Laboratory)

The NCAR Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (TIE-GCM) is a model of the upper atmosphere from ~100 to ~500 km altitude, based on a long history of model development initiated by Ray Roble, Bob Dickinson, and Cicely Ridley, and carried on by Art Richmond, Ben Foster, and the Atmosphere-Ionosphere-Magnetosphere (AIM) section of the NCAR High Altitude Observatory (HAO). The entire AIM section has been involved in its public release as an open-source community model, and in the recent development and release of TIE-GCM v. 2.0. The new version supports higher resolution (2.5° horizontal), extends to higher altitude, uses parallel computations for the electrodynamics, and produces a more accurate description of ionospheric structure. It is used by researchers in the university community and worldwide (129 related publications in the past 5 years) and is the basis for new development of a thermosphere-ionosphere capability in the NCAR Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model—eXtended (WACCM-X). Making the code stable, fixing problems, documenting, and enabling installation on a variety of platforms, from supercomputers to laptops, has been a major endeavor of the AIM section during the last several years, culminating in official release in March 2015 (see http://www.hao.ucar.edu/modeling/tgcm). In recognition of the success of the model as a premier research tool, and the efforts of the section in bringing it to the community, HAO nominates the scientists and engineers involved in this project for the 2016 UCAR Outstanding Accomplishment Award in Scientific and Technical Advancement.

Sue Ellen Haupt (RAL), Branko Kosovic (RAL), Tara Jensen (RAL), Jim Cowie (RAL), Jeff Lazo (RAL), Sheldon Drobot (now Harris Corporation),  Bill Mahoney (RAL), Al Yates (retired RAL), Gary Cunning (RAL), Pedro Jimenez (RAL), Jared Lee (RAL), Tyler McCandless (Ascend Analytics), Stefano Alessandrini (RAL), David John Gagne (ASP), Tressa Fowler (RAL), Amanda Anderson (RAL), Thomas Aligne (MMM), Luca Delle Monache (RAL), Julia Pearson (RAL), Josh Hacker (RAL), Gael Descombes (MMM), Jimy Dudhia (MMM), Greg Thompson (RAL), Barbara Brown (RAL), Trude Eidhammer (RAL), and Francois Vandenberghe (RAL), Gerry Wiener (RAL), Seth Linden (RAL), Thomas Brummet (RAL), William Petzke (RAL), William Meyers (Global Weather Corp), Paul Prestopnik (RAL), Julie Prestopnik (RAL), and Lisa Goodrich (RAL).

For the past three years, NCAR has led a large public-private-academic partnership team in designing, developing, building, deploying, testing, and assessing a new Sun4Cast™ Solar Power Forecasting System for the Department of Energy. The team’s efforts have focused on integrating solar energy into the power grid more efficiently, economically and reliably to advance the nation’s goal of a cleaner energy future. This work has led to significant advances in the state of solar forecasting science and technology, producing several new technologies: StatCast, a regime-dependent short-range artificial intelligence technology; WRF-Solar™, a version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model enhanced to improve prediction of solar irradiance; and a Nowcast Integrator to work in concert with NCAR’s Dynamic Integrated foreCast (DICast®) system. The irradiance forecast was then converted to power, and an analog ensemble approach was used to further tune and provide probabilistic forecast information and complete the Sun4Cast™ system. NCAR also developed metrics and new evaluation tools that were used in a year-long, full-scale demonstration of the system to determine its ability to provide irradiance and power forecasts to utilities and ISOs for operational use. The cross-laboratory team has made seminal advances in forecasting of clouds and aerosols, and thus, solar irradiance and power forecasting. Results have been thoroughly assessed, and the economic value of this work is conservatively estimated at more than $450M over the next 25 years.