of modes and activities has contributed to major advances and it would provide evidence that the balance has been adjusted to accommodate new opportunities and needs. Given that the NSF has multiple mechanisms for assuring that the processes for granting awards are functioning properly, the committee believes that the present task can be addressed by focusing solely on the major scientific results of ATM’s programs.

Statistical criteria are often used when judging certain aspects of scientific quality. For example, the number of highly cited papers by field would be a possible approach to identifying the relative effectiveness of fields or modes. This form of measurement is often applied to the contributions of individual Principal Investigators (PIs). However, the committee concluded that such statistical measures are both too imprecise and too beset with complications and biases to be useful for our purposes. They are, moreover, not the type of measurements that are appropriate for other modes of support for the atmospheric sciences.

The highly significant accomplishments selected by the committee are shown in Table 2-1 (in no particular order). It is important to note that this list of major achievements and the selection of case studies was made without prior examination or consideration of the roles the modes played in each of the achievements. While this list is not exhaustive, the committee believes that enlarging the set of major achievements would not change our conclusions regarding the adjustment to the balance between modes and activities. The committee selected case studies from all disciplines within NSF’s ATM division. While advances in understanding of climate variability and change are certainly among the most significant accomplishments of the past few decades and a few of the case studies cover aspects of climate

TABLE 2-1 List of Selected Major Achievements in the Atmospheric Sciences

List of Selected Major Achievements


Improvements in severe weather forecasting


Development of the dropsonde


Identifying causes for the Antarctic ozone hole


Development of community computational models


Development of the wind profiler to observe turbulent scatter


Emergence of space weather as a predictive science


Understanding the oxidative capacity of the troposphere


Identifying the importance of tropospheric aerosols to climate


The role of Mauna Loa measurements in understanding the global carbon cycle


Improving El Niño predictions


Development of helioseismology


Reading the paleoclimate record

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