Summer at NCAR: Visitors bring fresh faces, fresh ideas

Maura Hagan, NCAR Deputy Director and ASP Director

Summer in Boulder speaks to me in cool mornings and hot afternoons, in the buzz of riders on the bike paths and hummingbirds and bees in my garden, and in the influx of faces, some new and many familiar, that I see in the hallways, meeting rooms, and cafeterias at NCAR.

Maura HaganMaura Hagan
NCAR Deputy Director and ASP Director

As I write this column, I note that several special visitor activities are happening this week: a WRF tutorial at Foothills Lab, the Junior Faculty Forum on Future Scientific Directions at the Mesa Lab, and a Climate and Health Workshop at Center Green. Many attendees are extending their stays to reconnect with NCAR collaborators or to establish new research relationships with our staff.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without the arrival of SOARS protégés, who deliver papers, posters, and presentations in early August. Several other NCAR summer undergraduate internship programs are also in full swing.

Under the auspices of the Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science (SIParCS) program, students are working with CISL mentors on a range of technology development and mathematics projects while receiving training on supercomputers and parallel programming. EOL Summer Engineering Student Interns are developing new instrumentation, improving the existing suite of NSF/NCAR lower atmospheric observing facilities, gaining practical experience operating facilities in the field, and developing engineering solutions while working with experienced engineers and technicians. At ESSL/HAO, summer undergraduates benefit from expanded scientific and social opportunities enabled by the observatory’s partnership with the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. These opportunities include a series of presentations and lunch discussions led by experts working at space physics institutes throughout the Boulder area.

This summer, ASP is hosting two colloquia. Graduate students who attended Exploring the Atmosphere: Observational Instruments and Techniques spent the better part of the first week of June learning about some of NSF’s lower atmospheric observational facilities. Thereafter, they designed and executed a two-day measurement campaign using aircraft, radars, surface stations, and related instruments. The final component of this colloquium was a series of student presentations based upon their campaign analyses. EOL scientists Wen-Chau Lee, Jorgen Jensen, and Steve Oncley partnered with Alfred Rodi (University of Wyoming) and Steven Rutledge (CSU) to develop the two-week colloquium program.

The 2009 ASP Summer Colloquium on Marine Ecosystems and Climate will be held in August in partnership with Jim Hurrell, Keith Lindsay, and Joanie Kleypas from ESSL/CGD, Dale Haidvogel (Rutgers University), Thomas Powell (University of California, Berkeley), and Michael Alexander (NOAA/ESRL). The ASP Graduate Visitor Program is also hosting 13 fellows this summer, working on a broad spectrum of topics in pursuit of thesis research.

These and many other visitor programs at NCAR are designed to provide community access to the high-performance computational and observational facilities needed to improve our understanding of atmospheric and Sun-Earth system processes, and to examine the role of humans in both creating climate change and responding to severe weather occurrences. They also provide opportunities for NCAR staff and visiting students and scientists to conduct collaborative research. The ASP Faculty Fellowship Program is yet another way we support NCAR visits. The program also provides support for NCAR scientific staff to visit U.S. universities. I encourage our scientists to check the ASP website and consider ­ planning university visits. You don’t even have to miss any of the summer buzz at NCAR to participate.