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The year 2005 heralded the arrival of the nation’s most advanced research aircraft for atmospheric studies, the NSF/NCAR High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research. The jet can reach altitudes of up to 51,000 feet and has a range of 7,000 miles, allowing global studies not previously possible.
Integration and collaboration were major themes as NCAR and UCAR made their way through the first decade of the new century. The bridge between observations and models was strengthened by a new NCAR facility to promote data assimilation—the ability to inject an ever-increasing amount of data from satellites, observing stations, and other tools into model-generated weather forecasts and climate projections. Models themselves continued to grow in power and complexity. El Niño and La Niña were depicted with new clarity by the Community Climate System Model, for example, and the multiagency Weather Research and Forecasting model blossomed into the world’s leading forecast tool of its type. Even as electronic conferencing blossomed, NCAR remained a prime meeting ground for university and laboratory researchers. That role was advanced with the opening of Center Green, UCAR’s third major campus, and its 400-person meeting space. A new hangar housed the NSF/NCAR G-V aircraft (see left), and NCAR’s atmospheric chemists gained state-of-the-art labs in 2006. These facilities were complemented by innovative programs that brought a diversity of groups to NCAR, including early-career faculty and undergraduate leaders from UCAR member institutions. New visitors from community and tribal colleges further broadened the UCAR family.