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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report 2 The Changing Context for Atmospheric Science In considering future directions for the atmospheric sciences, the committee reviewed some aspects of the evolution of the atmospheric sciences from 1958, when the National Academy of Sciences first considered the status of research and education activities in the field, to the present. While illustrative rather than comprehensive, this consideration of a number of key defining characteristics of the field—including demographics, advances in science, interdisciplinarity, technology developments, and societal expectations—has helped inform the committee’s thinking about what factors are important in shaping future directions for the atmospheric sciences. The committee is aware that the context for the present study is much different from that in 1958. The field of atmospheric sciences has evolved significantly. The expansion of university, private-sector, and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) research and the development of new communications and computational infrastructure, coupled with greatly expanded research and operational efforts at other agencies and in other countries, has transformed understanding of the atmosphere, created new operational observational and modeling capabilities, and changed the way in which atmospheric research is conducted. New subdisciplines of atmospheric science have emerged, such as climate change and atmospheric chemistry, which grew out of an increased awareness of air pollution. The number and size of university atmospheric science programs has increased by nearly a factor of 5, indicating a more comprehensive and richer research endeavor. NCAR has grown to an institution that houses about 935 scientists and support personnel, builds and maintains observational and modeling facilities, and serves as a leader in organizing field campaigns, educational
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report and outreach activities, and other community service efforts. Federal agencies besides the National Science Foundation (NSF), including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense, and Environmental Protection Agency, have added to the support for atmospheric research, both internally and extramurally. These other agencies have focused efforts on their own missions and supporting research objectives (e.g., air quality) and have pioneered new approaches to research, most notably the introduction by NASA of space-based platforms for observing the atmosphere and near-space environment. International collaborations, including large multi-investigator and multinational field campaigns, now play a major role and require a significant fraction of the research budget. The committee believes that this evolution of atmospheric science research since 1958 introduces not only new opportunities but also new challenges. For example, five years of steady growth in NSF budgets have given way to a new period of limited budget growth, while support of atmospheric science research by other federal agencies exhibits considerable volatility. The constrained budget environment combined with the expanded scope of scientific questions have increased the need for interagency and international coordination. In developing findings and recommendations in this interim report, the committee first reviews how atmospheric science research has evolved. With that foundation the committee goes on to conduct a preliminary examination of the opportunities, challenges, successes, and shortcomings of the various modes of support for the atmospheric sciences. The final report will include a more complete analysis in order to address issues of balance among, and future evolution of, the modes. RESEARCH SUPPORT AND DEMOGRAPHICS The atmospheric sciences have enjoyed a slow but steady increase in funding by NSF since the late 1950s. NSF funding for atmospheric sciences was $16.3 million (in constant 1996 dollars) in 1958, increasing to $53.9 million in 1959. The Division of Atmospheric Sciences (ATM) budget had increased to $122 million by 1972, reaching $196 million in 2004 (Figure 2-1). Much of the budget increase that ATM has experienced since the 1980s can be traced to new funds for facilities operated by entities other than NCAR ($27 million increase since 1982) and for NSF-wide priorities, such as “Biocomplexity in the Environment” and “Information Technology Research” ($25 million increase since 1989). The core grants program and NCAR have experienced modest increases in support over the past 30 years. The funding is currently directed to the modes of support of core grants, university facilities, NCAR facilities and science, and NSF priorities, as shown in Figure 1-1. These modes overlap in many ways, for example, because facilities are integral to the research process. Over these 30 years, core research has
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report FIGURE 2-1 ATM funding for the atmospheric sciences since FY 1972 in millions of constant 1996 dollars. The NCAR numbers include support for both science and facilities housed at the center. “Other facilities” refers to support for facilities operated by institutions other than NCAR. “Priorities” refers to NSF-wide initiatives, such as “Biocomplexity in the Environment” and “Information Technology Research.” decreased from 50 percent to 38 percent of the overall ATM budget, and support for science at NCAR has decreased from 23 percent to 18 percent of the ATM budget. However, given the overall increase in the ATM budget, NSF core grant support has remained about constant in total dollars. At the same time, support for facilities at NCAR and at universities has increased from 23 percent to 33 percent of the ATM budget. Thus, facilities support has increased faster than core grant support, most likely due to the increasing sophistication of computing and observing capabilities. The committee notes that the availability of facilities creates research opportunities for individual investigators. Other agencies have experienced much larger fluctuations in their extramural funding for atmospheric science. It is not easy to track down exactly how much each agency spends on atmospheric research; Figure 2-2 shows efforts by the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) to sum up the contributions of different agencies to research relevant to their individual mandates. Note that the agencies also
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report FIGURE 2-2 (Left) FY 2004 funding for atmospheric sciences research by the 10 agencies surveyed by the OFCM. The overall funding by these agencies for this year totals about $503 million. Note that the NSF funding only includes the foundation’s contributions to space weather research and the U.S. Weather Research Program, which together total about $14 million. The NASA proportion of the OFCM funding is composed of the estimated meteorology share of the supporting research and analysis programs as well as Earth Observing System (EOS) and Earth Probe instruments, EOS science, and the EOS Data Information System elements of the NASA Office of Earth Science budget (OFCM, 2004). (Right) Estimated FY 2003 budget for atmospheric-related climate change research (i.e., the atmospheric composition, climate variability and change, carbon cycle, and water cycle program areas) by the 13 agencies of the CCSP (CCSP and SGCR, 2004). Total funding for these program areas is approximately $1.4 billion. support research on air quality and solar sciences, which neither of the charts in Figure 2-2 includes. These budgets include both intramural and extramural support for research. ATM is a relatively small player overall, but plays a significant role in supporting university and other extramural research. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS/NRC, 1958) concluded that there was a strong need for more professionals in the atmospheric sciences. At the time, only about 10 to 15 doctorates were awarded each year. By the late 1970s, an average of 84 doctorates a year were awarded by a greatly expanded number of university atmospheric sciences departments in the United States, meeting the needs for professionals in the field at that time (http://www.ametsoc.org/EXEC/TenYear/figs.html). Table 2-1 provides a number of indices for the growth in the atmospheric sciences research community. It is difficult to pin down the exact size of the community because of its diversity, but the table illustrates the signifi-
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report TABLE 2-1 Overview of Trends in Demographics and Research Support in the Atmospheric Sciences Year Number of UCAR Member Institutionsa Number of Atmospheric Science Ph.D.’s Grantedb Number of AGU Meteorology Section Membersc Number of AGU Atmospheric Science Section Membersc Number of AGU Space Physics & Aeronomy Section Membersc Number of AMS Membersd Total Annual for NSF Support Atmospheric Science (millions of 1996 dollars) Late 1950s 14 10 1,700 (in 1958) — — 7,000 16.3 (in 1958) 53.9 (in 1959) 1976-1980 46 84 — 1,600e 1,610e 9,000 119 1996-2000 68 133 — 5,300 3,430 12,000 144 aData from NAS-NRC (1958), University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) archives for 1976-1980, and UCAR Web site for 1996-2000 b Data from the NSF Science Resource statistics. c Data provided by American Geophysical Union (AGU). In the late 1950s, atmospheric science, space physics, and aeronomy were all grouped into a meteorology section. Note that approximately 30 percent of AGU membership in recent years is from outside the United States. d Data from http://www.ametsoc.org/EXEC/TenYear/figs.html; the membership of the American Meteorological Society is distributed almost equally among the private, public, and academic sectors. e Averages are for 1978-1981.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report cant expansion of educational efforts, professionals, and research funding over the past four decades. The size of the research workforce in atmospheric and related sciences seems to have been leveling off since the 1990s because of lower interest in the physical sciences, the growth of research programs overseas, and movement of some of the Ph.D. population to the private sector (Hoffer et al., 2001; Vali et al., 2002). On average, 133 atmospheric science doctorates were awarded annually in the late 1990s.The number of applicants to atmospheric science graduate programs declined between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000 (Vali et al., 2002), but increased slightly as of the 2002-2003 academic year, the most recent year with available data (Vali and Anthes, 2003). In the coming years, there is a projected shrinkage of the science and engineering research labor pool through retirements (NSB, 2002) coupled with a projected growth in science and engineering career opportunities. It is not clear exactly how these trends for physical sciences and engineering might broadly impact the atmospheric sciences. Note that not all atmospheric scientists are trained in atmospheric science, meteorology, astronomy, or Earth science departments. In particular, atmospheric chemists and cloud/aerosol microphysicists may be enrolled in chemistry, physics, applied science, chemical engineering, aerospace/mechanical engineering, civil/environmental engineering, or public health programs. Aeronomers and other near-space scientists may be trained in physics, chemistry, or electrical engineering departments. Those who study marine meteorology or interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean may enroll in marine science departments. ATM supports research in all of these academic enclaves. Along with efforts to increase the size of the atmospheric sciences workforce, the meteorological community worked to make the production and communication of weather information more professional (NRC, 2003). Private-sector meteorology began in earnest in this country shortly after the end of World War II, when several thousand meteorologists trained to support the massive aviation activities of the U.S. armed forces left government service eager to apply their newly acquired skills (Mazuzan, 1988). The Weather Bureau made the decision to permit its weather data to be used by the emerging private sector, and the first group of private meteorological companies began operating in 1946. The emerging television industry was a natural outlet for weather information and forecasts, and the decision by the Weather Bureau that government employees would not provide television weathercasts prompted the development of an influential component of the private sector—broadcast meteorology—as well as competition among weather information providers to develop better visualizations and other products for the weathercasters. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) started its Board on Broadcast Meteorology in 1957 to encourage more science-based programming, with the first AMS Seal awarded in 1960 (www.ametsoc.org). Today, there are over 250 private meteorological companies in this country providing opera-
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report tional forecasts, consulting services, data services, and research and development. The community of atmospheric scientists in the United States has long included significant participation by individuals from other nations. In recent decades, students have come to the United States to train; the number of foreign-born graduate students in physical sciences and engineering has increased both in absolute numbers and as a percentage. Growth continued into the mid-1990s, when it reversed (Hoffer et al., 2001). The downturn is related to the increase in opportunities for university training abroad (NSB, 2003) and, since 2001, there have been modest impacts on graduate school enrollments from increased restrictions for foreign students traveling to the United States (NRC, 2005). SCOPE AND CROSS-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH NAS/NRC (1958) anticipated the necessity for atmospheric research to involve other disciplines, recognizing that specialists in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering should join meteorologists in the new NCAR. Indeed, around 1960, NSF agreed to include the High Altitude Observatory in the new NCAR, as a condition of Walt Roberts’ becoming the first NCAR director, creating a partnership between NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences and ATM in funding solar physics that continues today. The definition of cross-disciplinary research for atmospheric sciences has expanded substantially over the past 45 years to include biology, oceanography, economics, and societal impacts in current research. Some of the highest impact and most transformative atmospheric research has taken place at disciplinary boundaries, including the discovery of and research on chaos theory, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climate change. Major efforts in climate modeling have depended upon cross-disciplinary connections. Many challenges remain. Physical science is not a solved problem, and there is a growing need for a better understanding of, for example, the linkages between chemistry, cloud microphysics, and climate; the linkages between oceans and the atmosphere; and the relationship between climate and ice dynamics, including the key challenge of changes in the crysophere. In addition, cross-disciplinary aspects of the coupling between the atmosphere and the land surface, including the biosphere and the carbon cycle, remain areas of focus. Studying the climate also presents challenges to standard NSF funding mechanisms because of the long timescales of many of the phenomena. Emerging science linking economics and societal impacts is of great interest, but it also represents the greatest challenge insofar as its maturity and readiness must be balanced with its potential. Finally, aggressively pursuing cross-disciplinary research runs the risk of diverting funding from or diluting discipline-specific research. Several members of the committee, as well as many members of the broader atmospheric research community who provided input to the study, recounted
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report anecdotal information suggesting that some cross-disciplinary research is falling between NSF’s programmatic boundaries. These programmatic boundaries exist both within ATM (e.g., support for projects that straddle climate and weather research questions) and between ATM and other NSF divisions. The difficulties that exist are with finding the right program to support cross-disciplinary research projects and in harmonizing the reviews from experts in different fields. ATM leadership stressed that they collaborate with their colleagues in other divisions to support cross-disciplinary proposals and work with principal investigators (PIs) to identify funding opportunities. The committee believes, however, that more needs to be done to foster cross-disciplinary research. This problem cannot be solved by ATM alone, but requires also a commitment from the rest of NSF. Indeed, a recent report by the National Academy of Public Administration recommended that NSF ensure that information about interdisciplinary research opportunities and criteria for reviewing interdisciplinary proposals are clearly communicated to investigators (NAPA, 2004). Effective identification of cross-disciplinary opportunities and related funding mechanisms are critical to the health of the atmospheric sciences. Finding: Research questions in the subdisciplines of atmospheric science are interrelated. Further, many are connected to those in other scientific disciplines, such as oceanography, ecology, terrestrial science, solar physics, and social science. In some cases, the science questions extend beyond the boundaries of ATM or NSF’s Geosciences directorate. ATM does make efforts to foster cross-disciplinary research, for example, by partnering with other divisions to support individual proposals or jointly soliciting proposals on a topic that falls at their interface. Yet, some research questions that fall at the interface between two or more disciplines can challenge NSF’s funding structures even when evaluations show these to be prime opportunities for scientific advancement. Examples of the challenges faced in cross-disciplinary science include the need to address the water cycle, biogeochemical cycles, paleoclimate, air-sea fluxes, and health impacts of atmospheric oxidants and fine particles. Improving opportunities for cross-disciplinary research will require commitments from ATM and other NSF divisions that support related research. Recommendation: ATM should work to reduce institutional barriers within NSF to appropriate cross-disciplinary research. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND COMPUTATIONAL MODELING The extraordinary evolution in information technology over the past 50 years has had a huge impact on the atmospheric sciences. Roughly speaking, computational capability has advanced at nearly a 100-fold per decade throughout the
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report entire time period. Associated with this are increases nearly as great in internal memory, data storage, and data transfer. The advent of the Internet has served to connect the community in unprecedented ways, and presently allows practical exchange of vast amounts of information. These changes have allowed an entirely new dimension of research—that of simulation and prediction—to join theory, observation, and analysis, in underpinning the science. Numerical weather and climate “experiments” may now be conducted in an environment that can be controlled in ways not available naturally, and in great numbers compared with what can be observed in nature. Computational models allow a new means to learn, as well as a new means to harness existing knowledge, toward the development of the best possible operational and research products. Meteorological analysis itself has undergone a dramatic advancement due to technology development. Today, it is a trivial matter to apply sophisticated multivariate statistical techniques to huge datasets consisting of millions of elements, in order to identify relationships and recurrent patterns to be studied and understood physically. The field of data assimilation has emerged, and has become a critical part of both research and operational prediction. Data assimilation lies at the intersection of analysis and simulation. It is one of the most demanding and resource-intensive aspects of modern weather prediction. Today’s methodologies provide optimized analyses of observations in the context of a prediction model. Such analyses were not possible even a decade ago and have led to significant improvement in prediction skill. The concept of climate “reanalyses,” that is, analyses of past observations using current models and assimilation methodologies, is relatively recent but has provided extremely important products for research (despite known difficulties). The use of computer simulations as a tool to understand the space environment has grown markedly in the past two decades. Models have been developed to study aspects of the solar interior and to reproduce aspects of the sunspot cycle. Simulations of Earth’s magnetosphere and the interaction with the solar wind are now able to reproduce real events and, in the future, will be able to provide predictions of space environmental conditions. The NSF has funded a Science and Technology Center, the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling (CISM) that is developing a set of coupled codes extending from the surface of the Sun to the upper atmosphere of Earth. Techniques developed in tropospheric weather modeling, particularly data assimilation, are increasingly being used in space physics. For example, the Space Environment Center (SEC) specifies the total electron content over the United States in near real time using such a data-assimilation-driven model. ATM has also supported community access to space physics models by providing partial support to the interagency Community Coordinated Modeling Center, where users can request specific model runs and visualize the results.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report OBSERVATIONS: TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND EMERGENCE OF FIELD PROGRAMS Atmospheric research, operations, and products rely heavily on observations of the state and composition of the atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces. Evolution of our understanding and forecast capabilities have been associated in part with new measurement capabilities resulting from new sensors, new observing platforms, and systems of instruments within networks. Automation for remote observations, reduction in size of instrumentation, computational processing, easy access to data and information, new signal processing capabilities for analysis and visualization have provided us with the tools to produce science products for research, operations, and user information services. Major advances in technology since 1950s include satellite observing platforms and instrumentation; new Doppler radars for the lower and upper atmosphere; and the ability to measure processes, not just state variables. Satellites have led to great improvements in the study of evolving weather patterns and the distribution of atmospheric pollutants, especially in data-sparse regions. The development and implementation of satellite-based observing platforms has largely been the purview of NASA and NOAA, while ATM has been the primary funding source for non-space-based platform instrumentation development. A major portion of the NSF-supported instrument development has taken place at NCAR, where a major, centralized national facility was formed. This facility consists of unique observing systems and platforms otherwise not readily accessible to NSF-sponsored PIs because they would be difficult for any single university person or group to develop. The observing systems are supported for field programs by the NSF deployment pool. Major technical achievements in incoherent scatter radars along with the siting of these radars in a longitudinal network have enhanced process understanding of geomagnetic storms, Sun-Earth connections, and ionospheric disturbances. Combined with models, these technical advances have provided the framework for space weather forecasting. A variety of smaller upper-atmosphere radars have emerged, providing sometimes the only observational information on the dynamics of the neutral mesosphere-lower thermosphere, leading to major revolutionary thinking about the theory of circulations in the upper atmosphere. Associated optical instrumentation development, especially resonance and Rayleigh-scatter lidars, has led to new measurements of chemical constituents in the upper atmosphere. The development of compact, robust, highly sensitive real-time trace-species and fine-particle sensors, many based on spectroscopic or mass spectrometric measurements, has allowed the deployment of multisensor suites on mobile platforms (aircraft, balloons, ships, vans) capable of mapping ambient atmospheric pollutant concentrations and characterizing surface sources and sinks (Kolb, 2003). The development of fast trace-gas and fine-particle sensors has also
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report enabled the direct measurement of surface emission and deposition fluxes, using micrometeorological techniques from flux towers and low-altitude aircraft. Typical atmospheric observational studies have involved a mix of routinely available measurements and those collected as part of a field program. Since the 1950s, the level and sophistication of routinely available observations has expanded. The U.S. Weather Service modernization provided improved radar coverage starting in the 1990s. Longer-term field campaigns, such as the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Testbeds, have provided continuous streams of measurements in the central United States, the Pacific, and Alaska. The Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere-Tethered Atmospheric Observing Systems (TOGA-TAOS) array provides surface atmospheric and oceanic data from the tropical Pacific. Starting in the 1990s, the U.S. commercial aircraft fleet started sampling temperature and wind, and humidity measurements are now being taken. Satellite data supply a rich mix of data that characterize the surface, ocean currents, atmosphere, thermal stratification of the atmosphere, cloud cover, tropical precipitation, aerosol distribution, and trace gas concentrations. Assimilated into numerical models, these data can provide a reasonably good picture of the systems that provide our day-to-day weather and motions of longer time and spatial scales, particularly over land, especially over the developed nations. Providing a framework for analyzing historical data are up to four decades worth of dynamically consistent data produced by reanalysis efforts. In recent years, the importance of climate change in the atmospheric sciences has created new observational demands for monitoring of the atmosphere, in particular, for sustained observations with global coverage. Satellite-based observations have provided major advances, but suffer from lack of continuity and related problems of calibration among instruments, necessitating continued investment in, and use of, in situ platforms. The need for enhanced monitoring overall requires continued attention to the development of instruments that are more robust, numerous, lightweight, easily deployable and maintained, and less expensive. NASA and NOAA are major players in the monitoring arena, but further work in this area is needed to ensure an adequate future climate observing system (NRC, 1998, 1999). Although operational and monitoring data are often sufficient to study larger-scale motions, field programs are needed for coordinated additional measurements to address specific questions regarding atmospheric processes not resolved by models, and requiring measurements not routinely made. Making instruments and platforms available to the community to make these measurements was a major reason for the establishment of NCAR. Many important field campaigns over the past 45 years have been relatively small, involving fewer than a dozen investigators and focusing on short-term atmospheric processes over a relatively limited geographical area. In 1974, ATM and NCAR were major players in the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE)—the first
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report TABLE 2-2 Recent Large ATM Field Projects (Over $1 million in facility deployment costs) Description of Field Program Estimated Support from NSF Grants The first Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-1) in FY 1995 was the first of several experiments to characterize the chemical and physical processes controlling the evolution and properties of atmospheric aerosols and radiative climate forcing. NOAA and Australia also provided facilities. $5.0 million The Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) in FY 1998 was a multiagency program supported by NSF’s Arctic System Science Program. Its goal was to acquire data on pack ice that covers the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The study involved many research facilities, including ones from DOE, the Office of Naval Research, and Japan. $15.0 million In FY 1999 the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX) addressed natural and anthropogenic climate forcing by aerosols and feedbacks on regional and global climate. Participants contributed research facilities from U.S. agencies, Europe, India, and island countries in the Indian Ocean. $5.0 million The Mesoscale Alpine Experiment (MAP) was an FY 1999 coordinated international effort to explore the three-dimensional effects of complex topography. The goal was to combine advances in numerical modeling with those in remote observing technology. Researchers and facilities from 12 countries were active participants. NOAA and several countries also provided research facilities. $7.5 million Tropospheric Ozone Production About the Spring Equinox (TOPSE) was an FY 2000 study that investigated the chemical and dynamical evolution of tropospheric chemical composition over continental North America during the winter-to-spring transition. Ozone budget, distribution of radical species, sources and portioning of nitrogen compounds, and composition of volatile organic carbon species were determined. NASA, Canada, and numerous universities provided research facilities. $2.8 million Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) was conducted in FY 2001 to address processes that determine the nature of deep convection in and near the East Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone; the evolution of the vertical structure of the atmospheric boundary layer; and how sea-air coupling affects ocean mixed-layer dynamics and sea surface temperature in the East Pacific warm pool. NOAA and Mexico also provided research facilities. $5.5 million ACE-Asia, conducted in FY 2001, focused on climate forcing caused by aerosols over eastern Asia and developed a quantitative understanding of the gas/aerosol particle/cloud system. NASA, NOAA, DOE, the U.S. Navy, Australia, Japan, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Korea also provided research facilities. $8.0 million
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report Description of Field Program Estimated Support from NSF Grants The Maui Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (MALT) campaign started in FY 2001 and continues today. It is using nested instrumentation with the 3.7-meter-diameter telescope at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex to study dynamical coupling between the mesosphere and the lower thermosphere. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research also supports this field campaign. In FY 2005, 5 awards and 1 supplement totaling ~$1 million The International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) in FY 2002 examined the moisture tracks that fuel large convective storms in the Midwest, to better understand when and where these massive storms form and how intense they will be. NOAA, NASA, France, and Germany provided research facilities. $6.4 million Bow Echo and MCV Experiment (BAMEX) in FY 2003 studied the life cycles of mesoscale convective storm systems. The study combined two related programs to investigate bow echoes, especially those that produce damaging winds, and larger convective systems that produce long-lived mesoscale convective vortices. NOAA and Germany also contributed research facilities. $3.6 million The North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME), an FY 2004 joint Climate Variability and Change (CLIVAR) and Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) project, was aimed at determining the sources and limits of predictability of warm-season precipitation over North America. The project focused on the key components of the North American monsoon system and its variability within the context of the evolving land surface-atmosphere-ocean annual cycle. NOAA and Mexico also contributed research facilities. $3.6 million The Rain in Cumulus over the Oceans (RICO) project was completed in January 2005. Its objective was to characterize and understand the properties of trade-wind cumulus clouds at all spatial scales, with special emphasis on determining the importance of precipitation. University of Wyoming provided research facilities. $3.8 million large, international field program—by providing three aircraft and significant support in planning and logistics. Since GATE, the number of large and multinational field programs addressing tropospheric research questions has multiplied (e.g., see Table 2-2). Many current lower-atmosphere field programs address a broader spectrum of disciplines (e.g., oceanography, soils, ecology, hydrology, and chemistry), and there is pressure to extend to longer timescales, largely in response to increased focus on climate issues and biogeochemical cycles. More
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report frequent field campaigns and more large field programs now compete for resources. Also, leadership in large international field campaigns is shifting toward countries outside the United States, such as the African Monsoon Multiscale Analysis Experiment, which is sponsored by the European Union (EU) and led by scientists in France, and the Atmospheric Brown Clouds project sponsored by NOAA and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and led by German and U.S. scientists. The upper-atmospheric research community also conducts field campaigns, often planned around fixed observing facilities, such as is the case for the Maui Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (Maui MALT) campaign. There have also been a series of field campaigns over the past two decades that have been supported by both monthly World Day observations and longer periods of continuous observations by the network of incoherent scatter radars. Numerical modeling has played an increasingly important role in developing observational strategies and subsequent data analysis. Starting in the 1970s, numerical modelers influenced the location, type, and frequency of observations; the design of field programs to test parameterization schemes for moist convection; and the forecasts used for measurement strategy. Now, the roles of models and observations are intimately entwined, with much more specific and useful guidance in more challenging forecast scenarios. Aircrafts may be deployed to fill in a data void that a set of numerical simulations shows is a source of forecast uncertainty, or direct a group of platforms to where convective storms are likely to originate. Finally, detailed datasets are assimilated into models to provide a more complete picture of the phenomenon being studied. INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT It has long been realized that, because the atmosphere is global in extent, the meteorological discipline should span national boundaries. An International Meteorological Organization was founded in 1873 and was succeeded in 1950 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) organized under the umbrella of the United Nations. The WMO has fostered international cooperation on operational weather observations, for example, to ensure global coverage from satellite-based observations of the atmosphere, and has advocated free and open exchange of weather data. This cooperative international perspective has resulted in the recent establishment of international agreements for the development of a Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS; http://earthobservation.org/) and through international collaboration on the development of new research programs such as the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP’s) Coordinated Observation and Prediction of the Earth System (COPES; http://copes.ipsl.jussieu.fr/index.html), which recognizes that “there is a seamless prediction problem from weather through to climate timescales, the necessity to address the broader
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report climate/Earth system and the increasing ability to do this, [and] new technology for observations and computing.” Many of the major field programs over the past 50 years have involved international coordination (e.g., see Table 2-2), and several international organizations have been established to facilitate coordination of observational and other research efforts. WMO coordinated international atmospheric research programs in the past, participating in the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958), establishing a Tropical Cyclone Project in 1971, carrying out GATE in 1974, and coordinating the GARP Global Weather and Monsoon Experiments in 1978-1979. GATE provides a good illustration of the potential complexity of international atmospheric research: it involved 40 research ships, 12 research aircraft, many moorings, and 72 countries. The WCRP was established as a successor to GARP by WMO, the International Council for Science (ICSU), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The WCRP has organized a succession of large projects, including the TOGA program running from 1984 to 1995; the GEWEX, which continues today; the international CLIVAR program; the study of Stratospheric Processes and Their Role in Climate (SPARC); the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE); and the Arctic Climate System Study (ACSYS). The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) was established by ICSU to coordinate research activities on “the interactive physical, chemical and biological processes that regulate the total Earth System, the unique environment that it provides for life, the changes that are occurring in this system, and the manner in which they are influenced by human actions” ( http://www.igbp.kva.se/). Of particular relevance to atmospheric science, IGBP activities include the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) project, the Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS), and the Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS). In addition, IGBP has initiated two studies to examine the Earth system as a whole: (1) Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES), which focuses on improving our understanding of the role of human perturbations to the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles and their interactions with the coupled physical climate system; and (2) PAGES, which is focused on understanding past climate changes. Several activities act to coordinate modeling internationally. In part, these collaborations are directed at the assessment of climate change under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, it also fosters a joint effort on improving numerical models of the atmosphere and parameterizations in these models of atmospheric processes both under the aegis of international research programs such as GEWEX (e.g., the GEWEX Cloud System Study effort) and CLIVAR and by bringing operational weather and climate modeling centers together. U.S. scientists work closely with scientists from other countries for the model computation, data analysis, and model/data synthesis used to char-
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report acterize the science included in assessments (e.g., IPCC, 2001) and WMO/UNEP ozone assessment reports (e.g., WMO, 2003). Models, satellite observations, and computing resources are shared across national boundaries. Atmospheric sciences has led the development of Earth system models which couple climate, oceans, land, and atmospheric chemistry, geology, and biogeochemistry. Earth system model development is now going on around the world with France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States playing important roles. Many model runs are now done using ensembles of models and initial conditions to characterize uncertainties in our understanding. Model and data comparisons rely on data collected around the globe and on observational programs that are coordinated and shared internationally. Groups organized under the WCRP and WMO focus on the development and evaluation of models, for example, numerical techniques and intercomparisons of models is the focus of the Working Group on Coupled Modeling (WGCM). Expanding coordination of modeling activities, forecasting, archiving of model output, and exchange of data is crucial for atmospheric sciences. The space environment affects the entire globe, so it is not surprising that ATM research initiatives in solar-terrestrial science have a significant international dimension. The National Space Weather Program, in addition to the interagency cooperation, maintains links and collaboration to similar programs in other countries. The National Space Weather Program Implementation Plan (July 2000) specifically calls for collaboration with entities such as the International Space Environment Service and the European Space Agency. This has led participation in workshops on space weather, such as the December 2004 European Space Weather Week, which was modeled on the highly successful annual NOAA SEC conference. The SuperDARN network of incoherent scatter radars in both the northern and southern polar regions is another example of international collaboration on the part of ATM in the area of solar-terrestrial science. Likewise, ATM is one of 22 institutions supporting the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope under the leadership of the National Solar Observatory. ATM has also provided financial support for the International Coordination Office for the Scientific Committee On Solar-Terrestrial Physics-Climate and Weather of the Sun-Earth System (SCOSTEP-CAWSES) Program. The U.S. atmospheric research community works within this international, intergovernmental fabric. Large research programs are discussed, planned, and approved years in advance of their going into the field. Data collected in these programs are coordinated and shared internationally. Analysis and modeling activities are also often coordinated by the U.S. and international steering and oversight groups of these large programs, such as CLIVAR, that work under the supervision of the WCRP. This advanced and increasing level of coordination across the nations has many benefits to all participants. However, it also creates the need for the U.S. funding agencies to make, or to the extent possible, commitments of facilities, research funding, and researchers on timetables constrained
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report by the multiple, interlocking activities of U.S. and international atmospheric scientists. Many large international field programs are developed by international bodies, the projects of the WCRP and IGBP being especially notable in this regard, and U.S. participation is often vital to the success of these field programs. This presents a challenge to ATM because they receive proposals from U.S. investigators to participate in these field programs and, in many cases, significant budgets are involved, but at the same time the ATM budget remains relatively flat. ATM has tried to cope with this situation by knowing when such large international field programs will occur and to anticipate that some of their overall budget will be used to support the participation of U.S. investigators in these programs. There are also demands on ATM investigators to produce large numbers of IPCC climate model runs, and the NSF participation in this mainly involves NCAR staff. ATM has approached this situation in a largely ad hoc, but reasonably successful, manner so far. It is not clear that this ad hoc approach will be desired in the future when pressures on ATM funding will likely increase. There are also benefits to ATM having a more transparent procedure for deciding these international coordination issues in that U.S. investigators and international bodies will more fully understand the basis for ATM funding decisions that affect them and can plan accordingly. The United States has been a leader in supporting atmospheric research over the past decades, but recent years have seen increasing investments, sophistication, and leadership from other nations as well. The European Union and other countries are more frequently initiating and leading major field programs. Many U.S. capabilities for observing and modeling the atmosphere and climate are matched or exceeded by Europe, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Some key examples of advances include the EU Framework programs such as ENSEMBLES, Japan’s Frontier Research System for Global Change, and the European Space Agency satellite SCIAMACHY. This shift provides opportunities to leverage investments by ATM with those of other nations and also creates challenges in terms of coordinating facilities and other resources for joint studies. Indeed, the role for ATM will vary depending on the international program, ranging from taking on a leadership role or supporting international program offices to contributing to programs led by other countries. A more strategic approach is needed to facilitate international coordination. Finding: The atmosphere knows no national boundaries; thus, international collaboration is critical to the study of the atmosphere. The research capabilities of other nations are becoming more sophisticated and their investments in the atmospheric sciences are growing. There is a breadth of atmospheric research coordinated internationally through organizations such as WCRP, IGBP, WMO, and SCOSTEP. Often, these international efforts address broad cross-disciplinary
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report research agendas. ATM has been extensively involved in international efforts, but U.S. participation has been largely on an ad hoc basis. It is not clear that this ad hoc approach is desired in the future when pressure on ATM funding will likely increase. A proactive and judicious mechanism, including the ability to commit with long lead time the participation of U.S. facilities and investigators, is needed for a coordinated, efficient, and effective participation in international programs. Such a mechanism would help U.S. investigators and international bodies more fully understand the basis for ATM funding decisions and hence plan accordingly. In particular, this mechanism would be useful for evaluating potential ATM involvement in international field campaigns; in this case, existing international bodies (such as WCRP, the World Weather Research Program, and WMO) could help determine the merits of potential field campaigns. Recommendation: ATM should develop systematic and clearly communicated procedures for tracking international program development, identifying potential ATM contributions, committing resources where appropriate, and reevaluating participation in international activities at regular intervals. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES Each mode of support employed by ATM provides some resources for educational activities (see Table 2-3). Most of ATM’s support of science education is accomplished through traditional research grants, which allow undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scientists to participate in research efforts directly. NSF-wide and ATM-led initiatives also support a wide range of other educational activities. At the NSF-wide level, the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program provides support for undergraduates in individual projects as well as special REU summer-site programs. NSF supports graduate students through the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. ATM also provides scholarships through the American Meteorological Society and postdoctoral fellowships through UCAR. A number of educational efforts are organized through UCAR and NCAR. A prime example is the effort to bring underrepresented minorities into the atmospheric sciences through the Scientific Opportunities in Atmospheric and Related Sciences (SOARS®) program. SOARS® is dedicated to increasing the participation of African American, American Indian, and Hispanic/Latino students enrolled in master’s and doctoral degree programs in the atmospheric and related sciences. ATM also supports a postdoctoral program through the Advanced Studies Program at NCAR. Additional educational and outreach activities, such as efforts to build digital libraries, are conducted by UCAR through partnerships with educational institutions to enhance formal and informal learning about the geosciences. Many educational activities are undertaken as part of an individual grantee’s project or as part of larger grants for small centers or university facilities. The former include involvement with K-12 students, special research and training opportunities for K-12 teachers or scientists who are involved in primarily under-
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report TABLE 2-3 Examples of Educational Activities Conducted Using Each Mode of Support Mode of Support Educational Activities Single and multiple PIs Undergraduate and graduate student research through research grants Postdoctoral research through research grants REUs as separate PI-funded activity Small centers Undergraduate and graduate student research Postdoctoral research Community education resources (e.g., CISM summer school) Graduate student communities and mentoring K-12 science education Informal science education Undergraduate education and course development Large center (NCAR/UCAR) Advanced Study Program for postdoctoral researchers Young Faculty Forum Community-wide summer workshops Meeting for heads and chairs of UCAR member departments Visiting Scientist program Sabbaticals from teaching Cooperative Meteorological Education and Training (COMET) SOARS® Resources for graduate students Cooperative agreements for university and other facilities Provide facility for graduate and undergraduate research Provide venue for REU programs (MIT Haystack, Arecibo, CHILL Radar) Make data available via the Web (e.g., radar data) NSF-wide initiatives Provide resources for graduate research Provide geoscience diversity initiative funded programs at a professional society (AMS) and a facility (Arecibo) Interagency programs Provide resources for graduate research International collaboration Provide resources for graduate research graduate institutions, and public outreach activities. Examples of the latter include a two-week summer school in space weather phenomena, consequences, and modeling offered by CISM, and related summer programs are also held at the Arecibo Observatory and at the Millstone Hill Radar. Likewise, efforts associated with the CHILL Radar operated by Colorado State University give faculty and students the opportunity to explore technical and scientific topics in radar meteorology.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report SOCIETAL RELEVANCE AND EXPECTATIONS Atmospheric science has been deeply rooted in practical applications since its inception, so that the need for research to meet societal expectations and to lead to progress in operations has long been an organizing principle. Indeed, it is striking that many of the topics highlighted in the 1959 NAS/NRC report Proceedings of the Scientific Information Meeting on Atmospheric Sciences remain among the major focus areas for research and development, such as improvement of understanding and methods related to weather forecasting, pollution and its health effects, fire risk, droughts, agriculture, erosion, and water management, to name a few. Although a few topics identified in the 1959 report have so matured through technical advances that continued research is not as prominent a feature of the scientific landscape as it was in the past, these are the exceptions. Further, a number of topics have been added to the menu of societal concerns, particularly seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasting, global change, space weather, and atmospheric dispersion of chemical, nuclear, and biological contaminants. The range of products that are needed and expected by an ever more engaged and broader public continues to expand and deepen, building upon the successes and development since the 1950s. It seems apparent that the public’s interest in gaining access to the information relating to these topics has increased rapidly. Today’s citizen makes greater demands on research to deliver a far larger number of user-oriented products. Examples include urban air quality forecasts, agricultural forecasts tailored to specific farming areas or crop types, as well as lightning detection systems to assist in fire risk evaluation. New warning systems, such as online access to hurricane and tornado forecasts, are also among the products that now enjoy large constituencies due to the availability of the Internet as well as the greatly improved capacity of scientists to provide increasingly accurate and ever faster response information, enhancing public safety. These are only a few examples of the many types of products that reflect the ever increasing pace of application of research to operations and products (NRC, 1998). Society also expects more finely tailored and more types of information, provided in terms understandable to a broad audience. As scientific information and understanding has deepened on topics such as atmospheric pollution and climate change, there has been a far deeper appreciation of the policy relevance of atmospheric science for societal decision making. Indeed, the findings of atmospheric science have provided the cornerstones for policy measures such as the Clean Air Act, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and its subsequent amendments, and the Kyoto Protocol. Public interest in understanding how such policies work, the basis for their application and the impact they will have has led to an increasing demand for research organizations to provide summaries aimed not just at the policymaker and other scientists, but to a far broader range of audiences, including the public, local and state governments, industry, and the education sector.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report Addressing broader impacts of research beyond advancement of knowledge has been an important thrust of NSF in recent years. All NSF grant proposals are evaluated in terms of their broader impacts, which include educational objectives, broadening the participation of underrepresented groups, enhancing the infrastructure for research, wide dissemination of research results, and benefits to society. The NSF-wide small-center programs (i.e., Science and Technology Centers and Engineering Research Centers have placed even more emphasis on education and outreach, as discussed in Chapter 3.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: