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Director's Message

Dear Colleagues:

I am very pleased to introduce the web-based 2004 Annual Scientific Report for the National Center for Atmospheric Research. As you will read, NCAR has had another very productive year of science and service.

Working with our many partners, we have made significant progress on the development and use of NCAR’s community models for climate, chemistry, weather, and solar-terrestrial science. We have upgraded our supercomputing facilities and have led vigorous national efforts to ensure that such community-serving, supercomputer systems are not compromised by “computer hackers”. We have almost completed the structural modifications to the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) aircraft and are looking forward to the first scientific research flights in 2005. The High-Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS), a joint US-UK satellite instrument, was launched this year on the NASA AURA satellite and, at the time of writing, is just beginning to acquire data. Our scientists and engineers deployed a new “eye-safe” LIDAR sensor in a successful “Pentagon Shield” project for the Department of Homeland Security.

NCAR researchers and university collaborators participated in several challenging and successful field experiments including the Airborne Carbon in the Mountains Experiment (ACME), Ocean Horizontal Array Turbulence Study (OHATS), Antarctic Tropospheric Chemistry Investigation (ANTCI), the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME). Our scientists and engineers have initiated work on the new Megacity Impacts on Regional and Global Environments program (MIRAGE).

For the past three years, NCAR has made investments in several strategic initiatives and we are now seeing significant results from this investment. All the initiatives involve extensive collaboration with external scientists and are generally focused on muliti-disciplinary scientific challenges (e.g., water cycle across spatial scales and the biogeochemical cycles) or on generative tools (e.g., the Geographic Information System and Data Assimilation initiatives). You can learn more about all the initiatives at the following link:

We’ve added a new search engine specific to the ASR this year which we hope will help you find topics of your particular interest. The search box appears on each page. For each division, this report provides executive summaries and detailed reports of our activities. We welcome your input on the report. If you have input please email Catherine Shea at

Facilities and Community Support


We have aggressively augmented our supercomputing facilities, supporting the ever-growing demand for high-end computational facilities for the atmospheric and related sciences. We now manage more than 2 petabytes of data in the NCAR mass store and the total computing capacity provided routinely to the community now exceeds 12 teraflops – these are large numbers by any reckoning. However, community demand continues to outstrip our ability to deliver end-to-end high performance computing and we will therefore continue our commitment to provide robust, capability-based supercomputing (“cyberinfrastructure”) for the next generation of simulation codes and their developers.


We continue to make progress, on schedule and within budget, in the acquisition of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER). This year, we have made great strides in the development of HIAPER - staying on schedule and within budget. HIAPER will arrive at Jeffco Airport early next calendar year and will provide the community with a long-planned enhancement in capabilities for long-duration, high-altitude atmospheric sensing. Our new (draft) Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) strategic plan refers to the upcoming period as “the golden age of research aviation” – I think with more than a touch of poetic license - but certainly with great pride and anticipation!

CCSM and IPCC Runs

We have also been very busy with the development of new community user “facilities” that are based on complex software systems, rather than hardware platforms. Under NSF and DOE sponsorship and with tremendous community involvement, we released a new version of the Community Climate System model (CCSM-3) this year. CCSM-3 runs carried out for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment feature 10-member ensembles for the various socio-economic scenarios, plus many new features, such as coupled carbon cycles and significantly higher resolution simulations. We believe that CCSM-3 truly represents the “state of the art” in climate system models.

Community Models

With NASA sponsorship, and again in partnership with many other organizations, we released a new version of the Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF). ESMF is becoming the “lingua franca” for earth system model component developers and will enable facile model intercomparisons through the use of modern software engineering practices and principles.

We released a new version of the Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF) this year, and this code became operational at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) on September 27 th, a major milestone for NCAR. This transition marks a new era in the relationship between the research and operational communities responsible for weather prediction. As with our other community models, the WRF source code is available to all from the NCAR web site. Additional features are being added continuously, and a 4km, cloud-resolving, version of WRF was deployed in real time to simulate the landfalls for the sequence of hurricanes experienced in Florida and Alabama this year.

Community Interactions and Visitors

This year, we hosted close to 1000 visitors from over 400 different national and international institutions for visits ranging from one day to over six months. NCAR scientists and staff also played host to more than 20 SOARS students over the summer. We highly value our visitors and the excitement and enthusiasm they bring to our scientific and facilities programs and continue to look for new ways to increase the flow. This year, we created a new centralized NCAR visitor fund which we hope to grow over the next few years. During FY 2004, 31 postdoctoral fellows conducted research at NCAR in the Advanced Study Program. You can read brief examples of contributions to NCAR science in our section on Postdoctoral Research Summaries. A description of the fellowship program can also be found in the ASP Postdoctoral Fellowship Announcement. This year, ASP also supported the work of four graduate fellows and more information about this program can be found in the ASP NCAR Graduate Fellowship Announcement.

We are grateful to the many community members that helped us this year by serving on our numerous advisory and review committees. Each NCAR division has an advisory committee to provide the division input on strategic direction of the division. Advisory panel membership lists can be found at: This year, we also had enthusiastic participation in the review of our strategic initiatives. Lists of strategic initiative review panels can be found on some initiative home pages via the following link: ttp://

Education and Outreach

During the months of June – August, visitors participated in three workshops convened by UCAR- EO. The NCAR Undergraduate Leadership Workshop (ULW) welcomed 22 college juniors from 22 universities in the US and Canada . The goal of this program is to encourage students to continue their studies into graduate programs and to enter STEM careers. Teachers from across the nation convened in groups of 20 for the NCAR Climate and Global Change Workshop and the Workshop on Modeling in the Geosciences. Careful evaluation and attention to lessons learned from past summer workshops made these two-week, intensive professional development opportunities for middle school master-educators particularly effective this year.

I hope you visit this Web report to learn more about NCAR's contributions to areas of your research interests as well as other aspects of our program.

Tim Killeen
NCAR Director

Director's Message | Highlights | Education & Outreach | ASR 2004 Home

National Center for Atmospheric Research University Corporation for Atmospheric Research National Science Foundation Annual Scientific Report - Home Atmospheric Chemistry Division Advanced Studies Program Atmospheric Chemistry Division Climate and Global Dynamics Division Environmental and Societal Impacts Group High Altitude Observatory Mesoscale & Microscale Meteorological Division Research Applications Program National Center for Atmospheric Research Scientific Computing Division