ESIG Annual Scientific Report 2003 NCAR UCAR NSF ASR 2002 ATD ASR SCD ASR CGD ASR HAO ASR MMM ASR RAP ASR SCD ASR ACD ASR ASP ASR RAP ASR ESIG ASR

Table of Contents | Director's Message | Executive Summary
Strategic Initiatives
| Fundamental Research | Enhancing Productivity | Protection of Life and Property
Education & Outreach | Additional Educational Activities | Publications | Community Service
Staff, Visitors and Collaborators | ASR 2003 Home


Director's Message
Robert Harriss

I am delighted to report that this has been a year of unprecedented scientific collaboration and outreach for the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG). The character of the highly successful programs conducted during FY2003 range from the rapid expansion of NCAR Strategic Initiative efforts to workshops and projects that include many other elements of the NCAR research program, UCAR Office of Programs, university faculty and researchers, and international scientific organizations. For example, several years ago GIS (Geographic Information Systems) had a negligible presence at NCAR/UCAR. Today, this tool has become a crucial element of the NCAR strategy for serving weather and climate information to a broad audience of users in universities, non-governmental organizations, and public agencies. The leadership of the GIS Initiative is a collaborative effort involving ESIG and RAP. A GIS Laboratory is being planned that, together with NCAR's Cyberinfrastructure Initiative, will be a toolkit for the seamless delivery of weather and climate information to researchers and other users around the nation and the world.

The NCAR Weather and Climate Impact Assessment Initiative, co-led by ESIG and CGD, is focused on a top-priority issue identified in the US Climate Change Science Program: quantifying and understanding the uncertainties associated with climate model products and impact assessment methods. An improved understanding of the "cascade of uncertainties" provides essential feedback to guide the technical evolution of models and assessment methods associated with climate projections and impact scenarios. Knowledge of uncertainties is also critical in establishing national and international strategies for mitigation and adaptation to future climate variability and change. The Assessment Initiative and ESIG research on Use and Value of Weather and Climate Information combine to form an end-to-end program on how to reduce the loss of lives and property related to extreme meteorological events.

ESIG convened two workshops and a Summer Institute that resulted in a banner year for national and international scientific collaboration and outreach. A November 2002 workshop sponsored by ESIG and the US Weather Research Program on "Increasing the Value of Weather Information in the Operation of the Electric Power System" was prescient in recommending a variety of strategies for increasing the robustness of the aging national electricity transmission network. The massive electrical blackout in the eastern United States and Canada in August 2003 was a dramatic reminder of how the vulnerability of this essential lifeline can threaten the economy and national security. Workshop participants recommended a variety of projects aimed at the rapid transition of advances in weather analysis and forecasting to operational applications in the management of electric power production and transmission systems.

Following the destruction of the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, there has been a significant increase in awareness of the need for effective disaster warning systems. An innovative ESIG workshop on "Early Warning Systems: Do's and Don'ts" brought together participants from 12 different nations to examine ways to improve the theory and practice of designing and implementing warning systems. The mobility of people and products in today's global economy was a central theme of the recommendations. Future warning systems will require "thinking globally, acting locally and globally." We look forward to the final workshop report in FY2004.

Finally, ESIG, in partnership with the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START), sponsored a three-week Summer Institute for early and mid-career scientists from developing countries on the topic of "Urbanization, Emissions, and the Global Carbon Cycle." Participants from Asia, Latin America, and Africa participated in the intensive program of scientific lectures and professional skill-building exercises during August 2003 at NCAR. During the Institute, participants developed research proposals for projects in their home cities. The START participant proposals were peer-reviewed, revised, and funded. The participants have two years to complete their projects. An appropriate forum will be selected for presentation and synthesis of the project results. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation provided primary funding for this Institute

In the coming year, ESIG research, education, and outreach activities will be given increased emphasis by being designated as the NCAR Institute for the Study of Society and Environment. Elevation to Institute status includes ambitious plans for an expansion of the research staff and agenda related to science that serves society. It is urgent that scientific results be relevant and usable for decision making in the fast-moving, turbulent world of the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents | Director's Message | Executive Summary
Strategic Initiatives
| Fundamental Research | Enhancing Productivity | Protection of Life and Property
Education & Outreach | Additional Educational Activities | Publications | Community Service
Staff, Visitors and Collaborators | ASR 2003 Home