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National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
3090 Center Green Drive
Boulder, CO 80301
303.497.1000 (phone)

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Devoted to service, research, and education in the atmospheric and related sciences, NCAR is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the National Science Foundation and managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Significant additional support is provided by other U.S. government agencies, other national governments, and the private sector. NCAR provides research, facilities, and services for the atmospheric and Earth sciences community to address topics of importance to society, including:

• Atmospheric chemistry—such as the sources and evolution of pollutants and other gases and particles that can affect air quality, weather, and climate

• Climate—including changes in temperature, precipitation, and other atmospheric features over decades or centuries, from prehistoric times to the present and into the future

• Weather—including cloud physics, storm structure, and other key research problems that can lead to improved weather forecasting

• Weather hazards to transportation— including detection and warning systems for turbulence, icing, and other flight hazards and for weather-related hazards of road and rail travel

• Weather decision support systems for new and emerging economic sectors—including renewable energy, wildfire prediction, precision agriculture, and other areas of societal importance

• Interactions between the Sun and Earth—from solar structure and behavior to advances in forecasting space weather

• Computer science innovation—for harnessing the power of supercomputers and understanding and visualizing the whole Earth system

• The effects of weather and climate on daily life, safety, the economy, and national security.

NCAR's Research Labs

Computational and Information Systems Laboratory

CISL provides supercomputing resources, comprehensive data sets, scientific visualization tools and facilities, high-speed networks, and associated data-processing capabilities. The lab supports the atmospheric science community through the development of domain-specific software cyberinfrastructure and a broad research program in computer science. CISL operates the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center as a resource for the atmospheric and Earth system science community on behalf of the National Science Foundation and UCAR

Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geoscience (IMAGe)

  •   Brings mathematical tools to bear on fundamental geoscience problems
  • Serves as a center of activity and integrator for the mathematical and geophysical communities


Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART)       

DART is a software environment that makes it easy to explore a variety of data assimilation methods and observations            with different numerical models. It is designed to facilitate the combination of assimilation algorithms, models, and real (as well as synthetic) observations to allow increased understanding of all three. The testbed provides modelers, observational scientists, and geophysicists with powerful, flexible tools that are easy to implement and can be customized to support efficient operational applications.

Earth Observing Laboratory

EOL provides observing facilities and instrumentation, including advanced radars, research aircraft, flux measurement systems, optical instrumentation for trace-gas measurement, and integrated sounding systems, to researchers in the atmospheric and related sciences. These facilities allow investigators around the globe to gather data required for their research programs. Two aircraft, the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V and NSF/NCAR C-130, are owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the lab on behalf of the research community. EOL's facilities include

  • Computing, Data and Software
  • Design and Fabrication Services
  • Field Project Services
  • In-Situ Sensing
  • Research Aviation
  • Remote Sensing
  • Technology Development 


NCAR Earth System Laboratory

          NESL researchers study the dynamics of the Earth system across spatial and temporal scales. They assesses how natural     forcing (such as solar variability) and human-driven perturbations (such as chemical emissions and land-use change) affect the evolution of the Earth system and ultimately the habitability of our planet. The lab is a highly collaborative environment where the questions and scientific problems to be solved are studied in a cross-disciplinary manner. It operates through three research divisions:

Atmospheric Chemistry Division

          ACD focuses on global- and regional-scale air quality and problems related to the complex interactions among the oceans, ecosystems, and atmosphere. Researchers study the cycles of chemicals in the atmosphere, ways in which the composition of the air evolves, and the impact of human activities on atmospheric chemistry.

Climate and Global Dynamics Division

CGD strives to obtain a comprehensive understanding of climate system components and the interactions among them, to represent this understanding in models of the components and of the coupled system, and to further our understanding by applying the models to scientific and societal questions and thereby providing a basis for prediction of weather and climate.

Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division

 MMM investigates the basic physical processes that govern the weather: how the atmosphere and Earth's surface   receive incoming radiation, scatter and absorb it, and retransmit it; how weather and climate are affected by terrain and the characteristics of soil and vegetation; how severe storm systems develop and die; and how precipitation processes occur.

High Altitude Observatory

HAO scientists study the behavior of the Sun and how that behavior affects the Earth environment. Study areas include the solar interior, the influence of magnetic fields on the structure and dynamics of the solar atmosphere, and the links between the variable solar output and Earth's magnetosphere and outer atmosphere, including eruptions on the Sun that create space weather. HAO collaborates on development of spaced-based instruments and maintains ground-based telescopes at its Mauna Loa Solar Observatory near Hilo, Hawaii. HAO research sections include

Atmosphere-Ionosphere-Magnetosphere Section

 AIM focuses on Earth's outer atmosphere, examining the processes affecting the dynamical, electrodynamical, thermodynamical, and chemical conditions in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetosphere; the couplings of these regions to the interplanetary medium and the lower atmosphere, and their response to the Sun's variable radiative, particulate and magnetic emissions.

 Long-Term Solar Variability Section

          LSV studies changes in solar magnetism at the Sun that take place over the course of weeks, months, years, decades, and even centuries or longer. Such changes have profound consequences for Earth's space environment, and, to a lesser extent, for its climate system. The origins and impacts of these changes have deep relevance to related variability in stars and stellar systems.

Solar Transients and Space Weather Section

 The Sun's ubiquitous magnetism is formed in the solar interior. Relentlessly, magnetic flux rises through the star's convective layers and pierces the photosphere at almost all spatial scales to mould the structures of the Sun's outer atmosphere. In addition, the blend of convective motion and magnetism provide an almost endless reservoir of energy to supply the solar corona and wind, as well as a host of impulsive events such as flares and coronal mass ejections. STSW is dedicated to understanding the processes that establish the (magnetism-governed) flow of mass and energy through the outer atmosphere that give rise to the radiative and particulate output that bathes the solar system.

Research Applications Laboratory

 RAL conducts a comprehensive program of research, development, and technology transfer in areas that currently include forecasting and decision support for aviation, surface transportation, renewable energy, national security, and other areas of societal concern, as well as advancements in numerical weather prediction, hydrometeorology, and verification. RAL programs include:

  • Aviation Applications
  • Climate Science and Applications
  • Hydrometeorological Applications
  • National Security Applications
  • Weather Systems Assessment

Joint Numerical Testbed

The JNT provides a testing and evaluation framework for new weather prediction model configurations and data assimilation methods and techniques before they are moved into operational use.