Outstanding Accomplishment Awards - 2015 Nominees

Staff Award Nominees for 2015

| Listed below are the UCAR 2015 Outstanding Accomplishment Award Nominations. Please note that if only one nomination was received in a particular category, that single nomination will not be included below. Winners will be announced on December 11 at the 2015 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.

Outstanding Publication Nominations

Laura Pan (ACOM), Cameron R. Homeyer (now at University of Oklahoma), Shawn B. Honomichl (ACOM), Brian A. Ridley (ACOM), Morris Weisman (MMM), Mary Barth (ACOM), Johnathan W. Hair (NASA Langley Research Institute), Marta A. Fenn (NASA Langley Research Institute), Carolyn F. Butler(NASA Langley Research Institute), Glenn S. Diskin(NASA Langley Research Institute), James H. Crawford(NASA Langley Research Institute), T. B. Ryerson(NOAA Earth System Research Lab), I. B. Pollack(NOAA Earth System Research Lab), Jeff Peischl(NOAA Earth System Research Lab), and H. Huntrieser(German Aerospace Center-DLR)

Pan, L. L., and Coauthors, 2014: Thunderstorms enhance tropospheric ozone by wrapping and shedding stratospheric air. Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 7785-7790.


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CGD’s Clara Deser (second from left) is recognized for being named AGU fellow during the 2014 ceremony and holiday celebration. With Clara are presenters (left to right) Jim Hurrell (NCAR Director), Michael Thompson (Interim UCAR President), and Mary Marlino (IIS Director, representing the UCP Director). (Photo by Rebecca Swisher.)

This paper revealed that deep thunderstorms transport ozone downward from the stratosphere, where it acts as a shield against harmful UV light, into the troposphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas and is harmful to human health and to plants and crops. Before this work, the stratospheric contribution to tropospheric ozone was only considered to occur (and was only represented in global models) via jet stream related large scale (~ 1000 km) processes, such as stratospheric intrusions along the frontal zone. This work, using airborne lidar observations during the Deep Convective Cloud and Chemistry (DC3) experiment, a NSF and NASA jointly supported field campaign in 2012, showed unambiguously for the first time that there is this additional process that impacts tropospheric ozone at thunderstorm scales ( ~ 100 km).

This work is groundbreaking in identifying the role of thunderstorms in coupling the stratosphere and the troposphere, and coupling chemistry and climate. The work provides a new view of how thunderstorms impact the chemical environment and also shows how chemical measurements are providing new information toward a better understanding of storm dynamics. Since tropospheric ozone is important in climate forcing, the new discovery also challenges the estimate of the stratospheric influence on tropospheric ozone in global chemical climate models.

Scott M. Spuler (EOL), K. S. Repasky (Montana State University), Bruce Morley (EOL), D. Moen (Montana State University), Matthew Hayman (EOL), and A. R. Nehrir (NASA)

Spuler, S. M., K. S. Repasky, B. M. Morley, D. Moen, M. Hayman, and A. R. Nehrir, 2015: Field-deployable diode-laser-based differential absorption lidar (DIAL) for profiling water vapor. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 8, 1073-1087.


This paper addresses the crucial need in observational meteorology and climatology for accurate and continuous water vapor measurements with increased spatial and temporal coverage. It clearly describes the ground-breaking collaborative development of a water vapor DIAL instrument that is capable of filling a large fraction of that observational need. The authors provide scientific justification for the new instrument, clearly describe the creative engineering advances, and exhibit impressive inter-comparison results. Several innovative design features described in the paper now enable the acquisition of continuous, unattended, accurate remote water vapor profiles. The advances include: i) a shared transmit/receive telescope design to allow for eye-safe operations and improved opto-mechanical and thermal stability; ii) an etalon interferometer and background-suppressing filters for enhanced daytime performance in the presence of clouds; iii) a 10-msec online/offline switching rate which improves performance in rapidly-changing conditions; and iv) the addition of a near-range channel to extend unbiased measurements closer to the ground to within 300 m of the instrument.

YuhongFan (HAO)

Fan, Y., 2010: On the Eruption of Coronal Flux Ropes, The Astrophysical Journal, 719, 728–736.


Numerical simulations are powerful tools for probing the origins of space weather arising from coronal mass ejections (CMEs). This groundbreaking paper uses simulations to convincingly demonstrate how twisted magnetic fields in the Sun’s corona may transition from an initially stable state into a CME eruption. By feeding varying amounts of twisted magnetic field up into the corona from beneath the Sun’s surface, Fan was able to simulate an eruption and show that its trigger arose from a particular magnetic instability. This “torus instability” arises when a hoop of twisted magnetic fields, or “flux rope,” can no longer be confined by overlying magnetic loops and expands uncontrollably. Indeed, Fan found that dynamic eruption occurred when the simulated flux rope reached a critical height relative to surrounding coronal magnetic fields consistent with analytical predictions of where the torus instability should occur. In a nuance difficult to capture in analytical studies, her simulations indicated that magnetic reconnection beneath the flux rope played a key role in the build-up and rise of the rope to the critical height. Fan linked these  findings to specific observational signatures that  can be  used to test the prevalence of the torus instability in solar eruptions, and potentially to predict the onset of CMEs and subsequent space weather activity.

George H. Bryan (MMM) and Hugh Morrison (MMM)

Bryan, G. H., and H. Morrison, 2012: Sensitivity of a simulated squall line to horizontal resolution and parameterization of microphysics. Monthly Weather Review, 140, 202–225.


This novel study made a large impact on the numerical weather prediction and research communities. Bryan and Morrison used a numerical model to simulate a squall line, which is a “line of active thunderstorms” that has “contiguous precipitation” (AMS, Glossary of Meteorology, 2012). Squall lines are common producers of severe winds and flooding rains. Bryan and Morrison investigated concurrently the effects of two key aspects of numerical models:  1) horizontal resolution, and 2) complexity of the microphysics scheme. The term “horizontal resolution” refers to the spacing between grid points in a numerical model domain. Smaller grid spacing is usually preferable, but can be very expensive computationally. The term “microphysics scheme” refers to the methods used to account for cloud and precipitation particles, which are too small and too numerous to be resolved explicitly in weather prediction models, but which have a profound effect on weather. Bryan and Morrison evaluated several model simulations with different settings for grid spacing and microphysics using special observations from a field project. They found that the most accurate results occurred with the most detailed simulation:  specifically, the simulation with the smallest grid spacing and most complex microphysics scheme. Although these settings are not feasible for real-time weather prediction due to computational cost, Bryan and Morrison’s novel and systematic approach allowed them to identify and explain potential systematic biases in weather forecasts, such as excessive rainfall, and link these biases to changes in model grid spacing and specific aspects of the microphysics scheme. The large number of citations of this paper demonstrates its importance to the numerical modeling community.

Roy Rasmussen (RAL), C. Liu (RAL), K. Ikeda (RAL), D. Gochis (RAL), D. Yates (RAL), F. Chen (RAL), M. Tewari (IBM Watson Research Center), M. Barlage (RAL), J. Dudhia (MMM), W. Yu (RAL), K. Miller (RAL), K. Arsenault (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), V. Grubišić (EOL), G. Thompson (RAL), and E. Gutmann (RAL)

Roy Rasmussen, C. Liu, K. Ikeda, D. Gochis, D. Yates, F. Chen, M. Tewari, M. Barlage, J. Dudhia, W. Yu, K. Miller, K. Arsenault, V. Grubišić, G. Thompson, and E. Gutmann, 2011: High-resolution coupled climate runoff simulations of seasonal snowfall over Colorado: A process study of current and warmer climate. Journal of Climate, 24 (11), 3015-3048.


This cross-disciplinary, groundbreaking and transformative paper utilizes both observations and state-of-the-art numerical modeling to extract key insights about the impacts of climatic changes on snowfall and runoff in mountainous regions and illuminate the physical causes of the projected changes. The study boldly explores the unchartered territory of very high-resolution regional climate modeling down to 2 km resolution over the Colorado Headwaters region, effectively connecting climate change with hydrologic sciences. Rasmussen et al. demonstrate the ability to accurately simulate seasonal snowfall and snowpack  under  present  and  future climate conditions, allowing  realistic  estimation of  spring  snowmelt  runoff  from Headwaters  regions for  the first time, which in much of the western United States is the main source of water for agriculture and human consumption. This paper is expected to exert considerable influence on regional climate research and policy decisions regarding water resources management in the western United States and beyond.

Andrew Gettelman (CGD),  Jennifer E. Kay (CGD) and John T. Fasullo (CGD)

Gettelman, A., J. E. Kay, and J. T. Fasullo, 2013: Spatial decomposition of climate feedbacks in the Community Earth System Model. Journal of Climate, 26, 3544-3561.


The response of the Earth's climate system to human-caused radiative forcing is still uncertain after nearly 50 years of study. The total response of the climate system is mediated by climate feedbacks, and the largest uncertainty is in cloud feedbacks. Clouds currently cool the planet significantly, since they are bright and reflect radiation to space. How clouds may change in response to surface warming and other environmental changes is critical for constraining our climate future. Gettelman et al (2013) present a detailed examination of climate feedbacks in the Community Earth System Model. The paper is a unique and focused set of experiments using 21 pairs of climate simulations. It extends existing methodology on climate feedbacks to try to link feedbacks to particular processes in the model. It is one of the first studies to try to link climate feedbacks to specific processes. The paper concludes that cloud processes and mean state are highly correlated with climate feedbacks and climate sensitivity in particular regions. The work has led to experiments with other models, and further experiments and analysis by the co-authors and others in the field. It has broadened and shaped our understanding of where to look for processes constraining cloud feedbacks. The work extends an earlier paper (Gettelman et al 2012) that linked feedbacks to specific parameterizations in the Community Earth System Model, and developed a new and efficient framework for testing feedbacks in models.

Mentoring Nominations

Matt Mayernik (IIS-UCP)

Project Scientist Matt Mayernik is nominated for his exemplary and sustained efforts to mentor data and information science graduate students, significantly improving their preparation for careers in data curation in scientific research environments. This work has ground-breaking impact on building workforce capacity to meet needs for curating unprecedented levels of research data production as articulated by the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation. Over the last four years, Mayernik has made outstanding contributions in both one-on-one mentoring of students and developing and refining a model for integrating hands-on research experiences in their data curation education. Advancing this mentoring model of data scientists, information scientists, and atmospheric scientists working together has significantly accelerated the process of workforce development in an emerging field.

Geoff Tyndall (ACOM)

Geoff Tyndall has made a sustained and exemplary effort, over the last six to seven summers in particular, to incorporate students into the ACOM research environment. Tyndall willingly made his laboratory facilities available to them, and worked shoulder to shoulder in the lab in order to instill a vision and excitement about the science. These students have all benefited from Tyndall’s personal approach to mentoring and attention to detail, and many have been inspired by this experience to move on to graduate careers in atmospheric sciences. Of particular note, many of the students hosted have been from historically underrepresented groups.

Education and Outreach Nominations

Frank Flocke (ACOM), Gabriele Pfister (ACOM), Alison Rockwell (EOL), Teri Eastburn (SciEd), Rachel Hauser (NCAR Directorate), David Hosansky (UCAR Communications) and Zhenya Gallon (UCAR Communications)

These nominees developed an extensive education and outreach component associated with the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Éxperiment (FRAPPÉ) that achieved unprecedented success in connecting the public, the media, educators and students with the scientists involved in the project, and its scientific goals.

FRAPPÉ, led by ACOM Scientists Frank Flocke and Gabriele Pfister, was an unprecedented air quality field experiment conducted in the summer of 2014 and aimed at determining the factors controlling ozone formation and transport in the Front Range. The study has been an exemplary collaboration between NCAR, the State of Colorado, NASA, and U.S. universities, as well as many other agencies. The results from the ongoing analysis of FRAPPÉ will greatly enhance the State’s ability to make informed policy decisions to improve air quality in the Front Range and the surrounding areas, and to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Colorado and the many tourists visiting the local mountains, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

The primary goals of the FRAPPÉ education and public outreach program were to raise public awareness of both the air quality study and the dangers of air pollution. This was done through use of digital and printed media, and direct engagement with undergraduate students who participated in the field research.

David Bailey (CGD), Barbara Ballard (CGD), Susan Bates (CGD), Andrew Gettelman (CGD), Cecile Hannay (CGD), David Lawrence (CGD), Richard Neale (CGD) , Adam Phillips (CGD), and Christine Shields (CGD)

The Community Earth System Model (CESM) Tutorial Team organized and hosted annual tutorials for graduate students, postdocs, and other early career scientists. The individuals who have attended the CESM tutorials are drawn from the greater climate science community and are expected to become the next generation of climate modeling scientists. As a result, the tutorial has had a unique and significant impact on the climate modeling community. The CESM Tutorial has served approximately 400 participants over the past five years and 500 participants from its inception. Hundreds more are reached via distance learning on the Internet and through transfer of knowledge to other students in their home institution research group.

The nine individuals are nominated for their substantive efforts in developing, building, and efficaciously improving the CESM Tutorial. All are volunteers who, through at least three tutorials, spent considerable time and energy to make the CESM Tutorial a success. They have truly shown great innovation and creativity in fostering such a wide-reaching tool for the climate science community.

Olga Wilhelmi (RAL), Jennifer Boehnert (RAL), and Kevin Sampson (RAL)

These nominees work as a team to enable students, researchers, practitioners, and public officials worldwide to more effectively use weather and climate research data and knowledge products for research, education, and decision-making with Geographic Information System (GIS) methods and tools. Through community workshops, scientific colloquia and focused training events, the GIS team is helping atmospheric scientists learn how to use GIS approaches, tools and data to bring many previously unavailable physical, ecological and social data streams to bear on their research. Through workshops, tutorials and Internet-based applications, such as “Climate Inspector”, they are making research data accessible, available and useful to students, educators, decision makers, and the general public throughout the world. The end result is that educators, researchers and decision-makers have become much more adept at incorporating weather and climate information using GIS-based analysis and decision support tools to address weather preparedness and climate adaptation issues.

Jeff Weber (UCP), Geoff Tyndall (ACOM), Janine Aquino (EOL), and Tim Barnes (SciEd)

Since 2011, the NCAR Wizards comprised of Jeff Weber, Geoff Tyndall, Janine Aquino, and Tim Barnes have planned and conducted live science education shows as the feature presentation of the annual Super Science Saturday public event. Each year the team plans a new set of experiences and demonstrations based on a theme that showcases the science research of NCAR and University members. These efforts are outside of their normal duties for NCAR/UCAR.

The NCAR wizards feature current research and technology in ways that are educational and engaging to students of all ages. The show aligns with UCAR’s mission to empower our member institutions, our National Center, and our Community Programs by expanding educational opportunities. Specifically, this work contributes to the Goal IV objective to implement a content strategy that promotes open access and provides new audiences with STEM education. During the last four years, this team has engaged nearly 4,000 people (adults and children) with NCAR/UCAR science. Evaluation surveys from 2012 indicate that participant understanding and interest of weather, climate, and other atmospheric and related sciences were increased through these motivational demonstrations.

Terry Hock (EOL)

Developing and inspiring the next generation of the nation’s workforce is central to the success of our country. Similarly, it is critically important to the Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL), and to observational atmospheric research, to attract the best new engineers to our field. While UCAR has programs such as SOARS specifically designed to attract future scientists, there are no similar programs directed toward engineers. Individuals with the dedication and drive to engage students, fostering excellence and mentoring future engineers, deserve our recognition.

Terry Hock, a senior engineer in EOL with no specific responsibilities for Education and Outreach, is such a dedicated individual, and has organized and carried out two high-profile and impactful activities for engineering students. Through these activities he introduced nearly 200 undergraduate engineering students to careers in atmospheric science engineering, showing them their potential to develop observing systems for research. He gave them direct, real-world experience solving engineering problems in atmospheric science. Hock’s ideas, hard work, and enthusiasm benefit the students he has taught, benefit UCAR and the geosciences community, and have earned the respect and appreciation of educators.

Diversity Nominations

Vidal Salazar (EOL)

Scientific Project Specialist Vidal Salazar holds an ongoing and sustained commitment to capture the curiosity and imagination of Hispanic students by creating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related experiences that speak to students’ particular interests and abilities. In a nation that is keenly aware of the underrepresentation of Hispanics in many STEM fields, Salazar has joined the community of STEM professionals who are willing to contribute their knowledge, time, and skills to mentor and inspire Hispanic youth and to connect them with career paths that are available to them in an increasingly technology-intensive economy. As part of a proposal that was funded by NCAR’s Diversity Committee, Salazar has organized and led a range of extracurricular activities related to science and technology for Hispanic high school students. These activities are but one example of Salazar’s efforts and underlying belief that the work of NCAR must be shared and we must engage the next generation of Hispanic students in the Boulder/Denver area.

Mary Barth (ACOM)

Over the past five years, Mary Barth has performed an extraordinary amount of work in contributing to the diversity of the workforce in the field of atmospheric sciences. She has also been an excellent role model, in particular for females entering and working their way through the field of atmospheric sciences. Through a combination of mentoring, teaching, and training of students, ranging from high school through graduate school, Barth has influenced more than 50 students from underrepresented groups or developing countries. Her efforts have led to the establishment of continuing collaborations between NCAR/ACOM and minority-serving institutes such as Howard University, and the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, and thus her efforts continue to impact the diversity of our workforce and of the larger atmospheric sciences.

Heather Lazrus (MMM), Bob Gough (Intertribal Council on Utility Policy and NCAR Visitor), and Julie Maldonado (UC Santa Barbara)

Heather Lazrus led the establishment of Rising Voices, along with her two community collaborators – Bob Gough and Julie Maldonado. Their initiative and vision brings together diverse indigenous and non-indigenous cultures and perspectives into this collaborative scientific and community engagement. Their initiative has substantially enhanced the role of UCAR/NCAR as a leading organization in such community-science interactions.

Rising Voices arose out of the understanding that western science is but one of many epistemological and knowledge traditions; traditions that are often based on differing core values. For example, Indigenous knowledge is about relationship with place, their role as stewards of the land, and the annual cycles of nature; western science focuses more on hypothesizing and testing, and around the use of advanced tools.

Rising Voices has emerged as a community of engaged leaders, environmental experts, students, and scientific professionals across the United States, with representation from tribal, local, state, and federal resource management agencies, academia, tribal colleges, and research organizations. They have successfully embraced their different perspectives to address major challenges in (a) understanding and responding to a changing and variable climate and extreme weather events, and (b) establishing research and policy priorities. Examples include contributions to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, joint research projects, and support for early career scientists and future cultural leaders.

Scientific and/or Technical Advancement Nominations

Mary Barth (ACOM), Christopher Cantrell (University of Colorado), William Brune (Pennsylvania State University), Steven Rutledge (Colorado State University), and James Crawford (NASA Langley Research Center)

The Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field experiment improves the current knowledge of convection and chemistry by providing the necessary information to estimate ozone sources and sinks in the upper troposphere where ozone is radiatively active as a greenhouse gas. To achieve the DC3 goals, a highly complex field experiment design was needed. The nominated principal investigators successfully brought together a team of top-notch scientists, led the design and execution of a comprehensive operations plan utilizing airborne and ground-based facilities, and have continued leadership in the DC3 data analysis. Unique to DC3 was bringing together the atmospheric chemistry, cloud physics and dynamics, and atmospheric electricity science communities to address the DC3 goals. These communities, working together, have been able to address interdisciplinary science questions that are providing information for improving model parameterizations in chemistry-climate and air quality models. In addition, tools and methodologies from the DC3 field experiment are having a lasting impact as they are being used in subsequent field experiments.     

Linda Mearns (CISL), Seth McGinnis (CISL), Don Middleton (CISL), Eric Nienhouse (CISL), Nathan Hook (CISL), and Chi-Fan Shih (CISL)

The North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) addresses the challenges inherent in producing useful climate model results at a regional scale for climate scientists, impacts researchers, statisticians, and others concerned with future climate over North America. Global climate models simulate climate at relatively coarse spatial resolutions. One way to produce results at higher resolution is to use the global model results to drive regional climate models over part of the globe. The global models supply large-scale information, while the regional models provide more detail. The higher resolution results are desirable for better understanding of atmospheric processes and for use in climate impacts and adaptation studies, but using regional models also adds some uncertainty. NARCCAP explored these uncertainties by running multiple regional climate models driven by multiple global models over the North American domain. It produced multiple climate change scenarios for use by the climate impacts and adaptation communities and further evaluated the performance of global and regional climate models. NARCCAP produced a large volume of data (~40 terabytes) and made it available to the larger climate research community along with background documentation and recommendations for appropriate use. The resulting body of research reflects important new information about regional climate change and its possible impacts. The value of NARCCAP's data products has been demonstrated by their widespread use across the targeted research communities, with 1,000 users registered, more than 130 scientific publications produced, and more than 1,000 citations to date.

Al Cooper (EOL), Jothiram Vivekanandan (EOL) , Scott Ellis (EOL), Wen-Chau Lee (EOL), Eric Loew (EOL), Peisang Tsai (EOL), Jim Ranson (EOL), Mark Lord (EOL), Steve Rauenbuehler (EOL), Kurt Zrubek (EOL), Jonathan Emmett (EOL), David Allen (EOL), Chris Burghart (EOL), Mike Dixon (EOL), Charlie Martin (EOL), and Maureen Donovan (EOL)

The pod-based, scanning W-band HIAPER Cloud Radar (HCR) mounted under the right wing of the HIAPER NSF/NCAR GV research aircraft was a decade-long, multi-phased, innovative, and challenging development project that was completed in 2015. The HCR enables the study of cloud kinematics and microphysics in regions critical for the global energy budget in the Earth system and not easily reachable by existing airborne cloud radars with similar capabilities. The 16-member HCR team nominated for this award is testimony to what EOL does best. EOL brings the best scientific, engineering and technical talent to bear on a challenge from the community to improve observations and understanding of our environment. The HCR’s first two field deployments: Nor’easter (February 2015) and Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (July-August 2015) have provided unprecedented datasets and revealed spectacularly detailed structures of clouds and precipitation. HCR is an impressive accomplishment that attests to EOL’s unmatched expertise in scientific and engineering leadership, design and fabrication, software development, project management, and operational, technical and administrative support. As attested in the support letter from Professor Robert Rauber of University of Illinois, “The vision that the developers had for the HCR is now translating into fascinating science that will rewrite textbooks focused on the mesoscale and microscale organization of clouds and precipitation.” 

Bill Skamarock (MMM), Michael Duda (MMM), Laura Fowler (MMM), Joe Klemp (MMM), and Sang-Hun Park (MMM)

The team from MMM developed and advanced a global non-hydrostatic community atmospheric model called MPAS-A or MPAS. The development of a global model robust enough for climate simulations, yet powerful enough to resolve individual thunderstorms, represents a major technical achievement that promises to unify Earth-system simulations of weather and climate. The team’s implementation of advanced numerical algorithms on an unstructured mesh whose mesh-cell density varies smoothly across the globe is a creative solution that provides a sophisticated, computationally efficient strategy for achieving high resolution regionally. The use of global models with variable resolution does away with lateral boundary conditions that have historically hindered the usefulness of regional models. The team has added MPAS as another dynamical core within the Community Earth System Model (CESM) framework where it becomes part of the full Earth-system modeling capability.

The team has conducted numerous research and real-time numerical prediction experiments of tropical cyclones and severe weather that demonstrate accuracy comparable to or better than current operational global models. In July 2015, MPAS was selected by the U.S. National Weather Service as a finalist to be the next global, operational weather model (the final decision will be made in 2016). This NWS selection is an endorsement of confidence in the model’s capabilities and underscores important steps the team has taken toward bridging the well-known gap between the research and operational weather prediction communities.

Fei Chen (RAL), Michael Barlage (RAL), Kevin Manning (RAL), Mukul Tewari (RAL), Hiroyuki Kusaka, (Univ of Tsukuba, Japan), Sue Grimmond (Univ of Reading, UK), Shiguang Miao (Institute of Urban Meteorology, Beijing, China), Xuemei Wang (Sun Yat-Sen Univ., Guangzhou, China), Chaolin Zhang (National Natural Science Foundation of China, Beijing), Jason Ching (National Exposure Research Lab, EPA, USA), Alberto Martilli (Center for Research on Energy, Environment and Technology, Madrid, Spain), and Francisco Salamanca (Arizona State University)

WRF-Urban couples an integrated, cross-scale urban modeling system with WRF to fill an urgent need within the numerical weather prediction and regional climate communities to understand the impacts of urbanization on regional weather, climate, air quality, public health, and water resources. Developed by this international scientific team, the model integrates multiple synergistic urban-modeling technologies and data sources in novel ways, expanding fundamental WRF model capabilities. WRF-Urban has been widely accepted as the state-of-the-science mesoscale urban weather and climate model and has sparked creative applications of WRF within different user communities. These applications are illustrating the model’s promising utility as a weather prediction and regional climate-modeling tool, for providing real-time, high-precision weather and air quality forecasts for cities, for investigating impacts of future urbanization on regional meteorology, water resources, for considering public health implications under future climate change scenarios, and for exploring possible mitigation and adaptation strategies urban planners might employ.

Xiaosong Yang (VSP)

For the past three years (2012-present), Xiaosong Yang has exceeded normal job performance in order to play a leading and crucial role in the development, evaluation and implementation of the nation’s first high-resolution coupled atmosphere-ocean climate prediction system for seasonal-to-decadal timescales. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL)- Forecast-oriented Low Ocean Resolution (FLOR) provides a quantum leap over existing systems in its ability to represent the processes and phenomena crucial to seasonal-to-decadal predictions of regional hydrological impacts (such as snow, droughts and floods) and extremes (such as the statistics of winter storms, heat-waves and hurricanes). The FLOR prediction system is now an integral element of the North American Multi-Model Ensemble for Seasonal Prediction (NMME). Yang’s efforts have spanned the gamut: he has done thorough analysis of climate model output to vet the model quality, and to understand the causes and predictability of winter storm variability, he has developed a novel new forecast model initialization scheme, mentored early-career scientists and published papers, all the while every month generating and evaluating the coupled initial conditions for a real-time seasonal forecast in time to make a tight deadline. It should be noted that this work has resulted in the federal employees on the FLOR and GFDL-NMME team receiving the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal (highest award offered by the DOC) and Silver Medal (second highest award offered by the DOC) in January and October 2015, respectively.


Rebecca Swisher, Internal Communications Specialist