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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences 4 Modes of Support and Key Activities In this chapter, each of the major modes of support employed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that now contribute specifically to the atmospheric sciences—that is, grants to individual and multiple Principal Investigators (PIs), small centers, large national centers, cooperative agreements to support facilities at universities and other locations, NSF-wide initiatives, interagency programs, and field programs—is described and their strengths and limitations are evaluated. GRANTS The Division of Atmospheric Sciences (ATM) supports academic atmospheric research principally through the proposal and peer review process for individual or multiple investigator grants. Among other activities, these grants support a large academic community of atmospheric scientists who pursue research that is essentially curiosity-driven. This basic research is fundamental to moving the field forward. Table 4-1 shows proposal statistics for ATM as compared to the Geosciences Directorate (GEO) as a whole and to the NSF averages. The bulk of the approximately 300 NSF-funded ATM grants each year are to individual PIs (in many cases with co-investigators), mostly at universities. The number of grants awarded each year has increased slowly over the past two decades (Figure 4-1), but there has been little trend over this time period in the success rate for grant proposals, which has fluctuated between approximately 40 and 50 percent for the division, despite increases in the number of proposals received (Figure 4-2). Most grants are for a three-year period.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences TABLE 4-1 ATM Research Proposal Statistics for FY 2003 ATM GEO NSF Submitted proposals ~800 ~4,000 ~40,000 Competitive awards ~300 ~1,500 ~11,000 Average annual award $127,000 $147,000 $136,000 (in 1996 dollars) ($108,300) ($125,350) ($116,000) Average duration 3 years 3 years 3 years FIGURE 4-1 Trends in average annual awards (in millions of FY 1996 dollars) and number of grants awarded by ATM since 1985. The average annual amount of ATM awards to PIs is about $127,000 per year, although actual support to an individual PI may be less if the grant is awarded to multiple investigators or more if allocations of computing or observing facilities are included in the award. For university faculty members, this amount normally includes up to two months of summer salary; support for graduate students, undergraduate students, or both; miscellaneous expenses such as travel, computing, and page charges; and institutionally determined fringe benefits and indirect costs. Over the past 10 years, 570 graduate students, on average, have been supported by ATM research grants each year, which is over half of the graduate students enrolled in atmospheric science departments (Jarvis Moyers, personal communication; NSF, 2006). The funding is committed for the duration of the grant, contingent on adequate progress being demonstrated though annual reports. Funding of investigators in nonacademic institutions proceeds similarly.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences FIGURE 4-2 Top: Percent of proposals funded. Bottom: Number of proposals1996 received. Most grants are unsolicited; scientists with an idea for a research project send in a proposal which is then judged on the basis of scientific excellence and potential broader impacts, such as educational and other societal benefits. A small number of grants of limited scale and duration are awarded as part of the Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program, which is intended to promote investigation of more radical ideas. NSF and ATM also solicit proposals that address priority research areas or other specific objectives (e.g., Box 4-1). Often, these directed research programs respond to needs identified by the community, thereby alleviating the
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences BOX 4-1 Focused Programs That Are Community-Driven Ongoing Programs with an Annual Competition for Funding: Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) is a broad-based upper-atmospheric research program with the goal of understanding the behavior of atmospheric regions from the middle atmosphere upward through the thermosphere and ionosphere into the exosphere in terms of coupling, energetics, chemistry, and dynamics on regional and global scales. The Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) program supports basic research into the dynamical and structural properties of the magnetosphere. One of the objectives is the construction of a global geospace general circulation model with predictive capability. Solar and Heliospheric Interaction (SHINE) research focuses on the connections between eruptive events and magnetic phenomena on the Sun and the corresponding solar wind structures in the inner heliosphere.The goal of SHINE research is to enhance both our physical understanding and predictive capabilities for solar-driven geoeffective events. Earth System History (ESH) is a cross-divisional research program, which is managed by ATM’s Paleoclimate Program Director.The program seeks to provide better understanding of Earth’s paleoenvironmental system and its evolution over geologic time by (a) documenting the past temporal and spatial variability of the Earth system, (b) assessing the rates of change associated with this variability, and (c) determining the sensitivity of the Earth system to variations in climate-forcing factors.Note: FiscalYear 2007 solicitation has been postponed while NSF reevaluates this program. The Geoscience Education program aims at initiating or encouraging innovative geoscience education activities.It specifically seeks projects thst are informed by results of current education-related research or that conduct educational research with a geoscience education venue. The Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences program supports activities that will increase the number of members of underrepresented groups that (a) are involved in formal precollege geoscience education programs; (b) pursue bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in the geosciences;(c) enter geoscience careers; and (d) participate in informal geoscience education programs. Recent Solicitations for Proposals on Targeted Topics: The Pilot Climate Process and Modeling Teams (CPT) program was co-sponsored by NOAA and NSF.The goal was to further the development of global coupled climate models by enhancing collaborations between theoreticians, field observationalists, process modelers, and the large modeling centers. The Water Cycle Research initiative was intended to enhance innovative basic research contributing to the understanding of the water cycle and its function as a transport agent for energy and mass (water and biologically/geochemically reactive substances).
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences concern that investigators must shoehorn their proposals to meet research priorities that do not necessarily reflect community goals. This mechanism is used more prominently by the upper atmospheric section. There are several grant programs directed at young faculty and underrepresented groups. For example, the NSF-wide Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) and the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers grants target young, tenure-track faculty investigators who have not yet been awarded tenure. The number of these early career grant proposals is relatively small in ATM because of the relatively small number of tenure-track faculty in the field. GEO has grant programs that seek to enhance demographic diversity, including targeted programs for historically black colleges and universities, for tribal colleges and universities, and for improving female and minority representation. While NSF grants from ATM are important for private-sector research companies, they are crucial to the career of university faculty members. The more mission-oriented agencies (e.g., National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], Department of Energy [DOE], Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration) support extramural research, but these funds are granted on the basis of mission relevance and scientific merit. Because NSF funding decisions are made primarily on the grounds of scientific excellence, there is a perception in some academic programs that success in obtaining NSF grants is considered more important to academic advancement. Small science and technology oriented businesses can also apply for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grants through an NSF-wide solicitation each year (NRC, 2004). STTR projects must involve at least one small business and one not-for-profit research group, usually from an academic institution. SBIR and STTR grants, which receive about 2.7 percent of the NSF’s extramural research budget, have funded the development and demonstration of a number of innovative instruments currently used in atmospheric research. An increasing fraction of NSF grants are for multiple PIs collaborating on a larger-scale project (see Figure 4-3). In particular, multi-PI grants support modeling and measurement efforts. Atmospheric scientists have long recognized the value of collaboration (NAS/NRC, 1958) and are increasingly seeing the need to form teams that can access the multiple skills, tools, and facilities that are frequently required to plow new scientific ground. The demand on ATM for multi-investigator project funding is likely to continue to grow. An issue that arises as the scale grows is the ability for agencies to work together, and for agencies to coordinate with international partners, in the fostering and support of such programs.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences FIGURE 4-3 Percent of grants (top) and funding (bottom) awarded to single PIs (white) and multiple PIs (grey). Increasingly, advances in modeling capabilities rest on critical collaborations and shared infrastructure. Likewise, the increasing complexity and frequent multidisciplinary nature of atmospheric science measurements— including laboratory experiments, ground-based and airborne field measurements, and advanced research instrument development and testing—often require collaboration of two or more research groups to be addressed effectively. Atmospheric field measurements often need to be performed at one or more remote sites, may require complex logistics involving site access or mobile measurement platforms, usually require the simultaneous
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences measurement of multiple physical and/or chemical parameters, and normally require significant modeling capabilities for proper analysis. Another example where multi-PI grants have been effective is in support of global climate change at universities. An umbrella grant to Princeton University awarded during the 1980s–1990s was incredibly fruitful in fostering scientific advances in this complex, multidisciplinary area of research and in training the next generation of scientists. All of these factors push the requirement for multiple-PI projects. There are often synergies between ATM PI grants and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) programs for both individual and multiple PIs. Many NSF grantees use research tools developed and maintained at NCAR. These include numerical models, equipment, and computing. Also, there is a great deal of science collaboration between NCAR scientists, who are frequently unfunded co-PIs on grants, and PIs from universities or the private sector in the conduct of their research, including field programs. This mode of core grant support has benefited the atmospheric sciences in several ways. First, it has enabled a substantial volume of high-caliber scientific research. For example, grants to individual and multiple PIs have enabled the development of theory, analysis of observation and model results, process studies, provision of data to a broad suite of users, and development and acquisition of instruments by universities. Second, it has provided multiple options and flexibility in the ways ATM supports PIs, including unsolicited proposals, solicitation for new money that came in via various NSF-wide initiatives, ATM-initiated solicitations, and solicitations for field programs. This flexibility allows ATM to both encourage submission of proposals addressing focused topics or themes and to continually encourage PI-initiated proposals. HIGH-RISK, POTENTIALLY TRANSFORMATIVE RESEARCH Whereas other federal agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, and DOE, fund research directly related to their mission, NSF is unique in its flexibility to fund research without immediate mission application or need to have guarantee of success. Such curiosity-driven research is an important component of a thriving scientific field. An important type of this basic research is that which is particularly innovative or potentially high-risk. NSF is the primary place where scientists turn for support of this sort of research; other more mission-oriented agencies typically do not support it. Such research is instrumental in making major advances in the field and has the potential to be ground-breaking and lead to high payoff. The NSF approach to reviewing and selecting research activities to support generally ensures that good science is funded and poor or mediocre science is not. In this process, the track record of the proposing investigator
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences and likelihood of success of the proposed research are among the metrics used for evaluating proposals. These metrics may lead the PI community to put forward conservative proposals that produce incremental advances in atmospheric science. NSF program managers face a continual challenge to ensure that highly innovative, high-risk ideas are funded, since such proposals may have large potential payoffs. Such research efforts are more likely to fail, but may also lead to transformative discoveries. Encouraging and identifying proposals that fall into this category and ensuring adequate support for them has presented challenges for NSF as a whole, despite the desire from NSF leadership to pursue innovation and risk taking (NAPA, 2004). As larger modes of support have expanded (e.g., small centers), the opportunities for such blue-sky funding is believed to have declined. Aside from those grants awarded through the SGER program, most proposals that might be considered high risk undergo the regular merit review process; thus it is unknown how much research of this sort is supported. Because peer reviewers tend to be risk averse, particularly innovative proposals may not fare well when competing against regular proposals. NAPA (2004) found that NSF’s support for high-risk research could be enhanced by better communicating opportunities for such support to the scientific community, perhaps through specialized calls for proposals; by modifying the review criteria used to evaluate proposals to place more weight on innovation; or by subjecting high-risk proposals to a specially designated review process. Currently, ATM does not set aside any funds specifically for high-risk research, but program officers are encouraged to be receptive to such proposals that come in through the regular grant process. In some cases, awards are made despite the lack of reviewer endorsement, shorter-duration proof-of-concept awards are made, or ATM or GEO reserves are used to fund such activities. One example of such an action by an ATM program director took place in the early 1980s when Dr. Ronald Taylor put funding into the newly emerging area of the MST (Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere) radar (see Case Study 5 in Chapter 2 of this report). This action accelerated progress in this field and now many such radars around the world are collecting valuable data. ATM does not track how many grants are awarded for high-risk proposals, either through the regular grant process or through the discretion of the program directors, or the outcomes of the high-risk research that is funded. Some high-risk projects that are of limited duration and of modest cost are supported through the SGER program. No more than 5 percent of any NSF program can be used for SGER awards; in ATM, typically 1 to 2 percent of each program’s funds are applied to SGER. It is not entirely clear to investigators what funding mechanisms are available for support of high-risk projects that are larger in scope than that which an individual program director could fund. However,
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences there is no analog to the SGER opportunity for potentially transformative research proposals whose cost exceeds the SGER threshold of $200,000. SMALL CENTERS Over the past two decades, NSF has begun to employ a small-center mode of funding. This mode was initiated by the Engineering Directorate, which introduced Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) in the early 1980s. Subsequently, the Office of Integrated Activities created Science and Technology Centers (STCs), which are designed to enable innovative research and education projects of national importance that require a center to achieve significant research, education, and knowledge-transfer goals shared by the partners. ERCs and STCs are funded for 10 years at the level of $2 million to $5 million per year. In addition, there are centers supported under the NSF-wide Information Technology Research (ITR) program and ATM supports some centers from core funds. Box 4-2 lists atmospheric science centers established over the past 15 years along with the science problems they are addressing. Because these centers are supported primarily by other parts of NSF, they provide an opportunity to expand the overall NSF level of support for atmospheric sciences. The NSF Office of Integrative Activities currently supports 17 STCs. Two atmospheric-sciences-related STCs were awarded in the early years: the Center for the Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) housed at the University of Oklahoma and the Center for Clouds, Chemistry, and Climate (C4) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Although CAPS and C4 have been sunsetted as STCs, support for the research initiated at these centers has continued because of successful competition for ATM core funding. At present, ATM is represented by two STCs, the Center for Integrated Space-Weather Modeling (CISM) coordinated by Boston University and Center for Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) based at Colorado State University. The Division of Engineering Education and Centers currently supports 22 current ERCs. There have been a total of 46 centers since the program started in 1985, and the last competition for new centers was in 2006, with 5 funded. Currently, there is one ERC focused on atmospheric science research, the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). The few atmospheric sciences STCs and ERCs—CAPS, C4, CISM, CASA, and CMMAP—have contributed or are currently contributing significantly in advancing innovation and research in the atmospheric sciences. The STC and ERC programs provide participating investigators with long-term, relatively stable funding of sufficient size to tackle large problems. They involve the creation of large, interdisciplinary research efforts with
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences BOX 4-2 Small Atmospheric Centers Supported by NSF Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) was an STC at the University of Oklahoma from 1989 to 2000, funded at a rate of $0.9 million to $1.5 million per year. The CAPS mission was the development of techniques for the computer-based prediction of high-impact local weather with operational Doppler radars serving as key data sources. Center for Clouds, Chemistry, and Climate (C4) was an STC spearheaded by Scripps Institution of Oceanography from 1991 to 2001, funded at a rate of $1.5 million per year.The goal of C4 was to develop theoretical, observational, and modeling bases required to understand and predict Earth’s changing climate as affected by clouds, radiation, and atmospheric chemistry and their interactions. Center for Integrated Space-Weather Modeling (CISM) is an STC coordinated by Boston University, starting in 2002, funded at a rate of $4 million per year for up to 10 years. CISM consists of research groups at eight universities and several government and private nonprofit research organizations and commercial firms.The center’s mandate is to construct a comprehensive physics-based numerical simulation model that describes the space environment from the Sun to the Earth, thus enabling reliable prediction of space weather events at least two days in advance. Center for Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) is an STC awarded in July 2006 to Colorado State University (CSU), funded at $19 million for the first five years.The primary objective of CMMAP will be to develop climate models with more accurate depictions of cloud processes, building on prototypes pioneered by researchers at CSU. Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) is an ERC led by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, funded at a rate of $1.5 million to $2 million per year for up to 10 years. Established in late 2003, the center brings together a multidisciplinary group of engineers, computer scientists, meteorologists, sociologists, and industry and government representatives to conduct fundamental targeted goals. Such a goal-oriented research focus, with milestones and metrics, is a different environment than the work of the individual PI. Stable funding benefits graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and allows researchers to focus on key science issues that extend beyond the regular grant cycle for single and multiple PIs. While the mandated 10-year lifetime of the centers may pose management challenges near the end of the award, it also forces the centers to maintain a relevant, cutting-edge research portfolio throughout their tenure. Indeed, each center in the atmospheric sciences that has already “graduated” has continued to operate in some form with
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences research, develop enabling technology, and deploy prototype engineering systems based on a new paradigm: distributed collaborative adaptive sensing.These networks are deployed to overcome fundamental limitations of current tropospheric observational approaches by using large numbers of appropriately spaced sensors capable of high spatial and temporal resolution. Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) is an ITR program led by the University of Oklahoma and established in 2003.It is funded at a rate of $11.25 million for five years.The transforming element of LEAD is dynamic workflow orchestration and data management, which will allow use of analysis tools, forecast models, and data repositories as dynamically adaptive, on-demand systems. Global Multi-Scale Kinetic Simulations of the Earth’s Magnetosphere Using Parallel Discrete Event Simulation is an ITR project at the Georgia Institute of Technology to develop scalable, parallel, numerical models for the simulation of space plasmas and the dynamics of the Earth’s magnetosphere, based on Discrete Event Simulation (DES).The investigators will develop DES methods with situation-dependent physics, suitable for space physics problems, and then develop the algorithms required to execute these efficiently on massively parallel computer systems. Environmental Molecular Sciences Institute (EMSI) at UC Irvine (AirUCI) is co-funded by the Chemistry Division and the Atmospheric Science Division, using the relatively new EMSI funding mode. AirUCI’s research focuses on chemical reactions at air/condensed phase interfaces, an important emerging topic in atmospheric chemistry. Tree-Ring Reconstruction of Asian Monsoon Climate Dynamics is a new five-year collaborative project at Columbia University.The project will use the science of dendro-chronology to examine the relationship between the Asian monsoon and the large-scale coupled processes that drive much of its variability. additional funding coming from a variety of sources. In addition to their research objectives, STCs and ERCs have mandates to conduct education activities and to develop applications and knowledge transfer. The STCs and ERCs are required to spend approximately 20 percent of their resources on education and diversity programs, well beyond the requirements of other grants and agency requirements. Thus, the centers significantly broaden education resources. For example, CISM holds a two-week summer school that provides broad-based exposure to space weather in the entire Sun–Earth system, which has proved to be very successful (Simpson, 2004). ERCs are
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences TABLE 4-3 Investments in ATM Research from NSF-wide Priority Areas (in millions of dollars for each fiscal year) Priority Area 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Biocomplexity in the Environment: improve environmental forecasting capabilities; enhance decision-making tools; and integrate human, social, and ecological factors into investigations of the physical environment and environmental engineering. 0.00 7.50 7.40 7.40 12.00 Information Technology Research: deepen fundamental research on large-scale networks and create new integrative software and advanced architectures for high-end computing. 0.00 3.40 3.40 4.60 5.00 Nanoscale Science and Engineering: develop and strengthen promising fields (including nanobiotechnology, manufacturing at the nanoscale) and establish the science and engineering infrastructure and workforce needed to exploit new capabilities in systematic organization, manipulation, and control of matter at atomic, molecular, and supramolecular levels. NSF activities are part of the larger, cross-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative. 0.00 0.00 0.50 0.50 0.60 Mathematical Sciences: deepen support for fundamental research in the mathematical sciences and statistics and integrate mathematical and statistical research and education across the full range of science and engineering disciplines. 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.50 2.40 Human and Social Dynamics: draw on recent convergence of research in biology, engineering, information technology, and cognitive science to investigate the causes and ramifications of change and its complex consequences—cultural, economic, individual, political, and social. 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.50 TABLE 4-4 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
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences Description of Field Program Estimated Support from NSF Grants The Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) in FY 1998 was a multi-agency 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 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
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences Description of Field Program Estimated Support from NSF Grants 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 The Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) is the second phase of a coordinated effort to explore the structure and evolution of atmospheric rotors (intense low-level horizontal vorticies that form along an axis parallel to, and downstream of, a mountain ridge crest) as well as associated phenomena in complex terrain. The initial, exploratory, phase of this effort, the Sierra Rotors Project, took place in early spring 2004 in Owens Valley, California; T-REX was conducted in the same location in March and April 2006. The campaign utilized the HIAPER and King Air aircraft supported by NSF and the United Kingdom contributed the BAe146 aircraft. $1.25 million The Megacities Impact on Regional And Global Environment—Mexico (MIRAGE-Mex) field campaign took place in March 2006 and examined the chemical and physical transformations of gases and aerosols in the polluted outflow from Mexico City. The campaign brought together observations from ground stations, aircraft, and satellites. MIRAGE-Mex was organized by NCAR-ACD on behalf of the atmospheric sciences community and included support from NOAA, DOE, and Mexico. $2.2 million
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences other agencies or countries. ATM supports smaller field programs through individual investigator grants and the facilities deployment pool. However, ATM supports large field programs in a variety of ways: as the lead agency (e.g., Bow Echo and MCV Experiment [BAMEX], IHOP_2002), as a major partner in an international effort (e.g., Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment [TOGA COARE]), as a supporting agency for field programs sponsored by other agencies (e.g., Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study [BOREAS], led by NASA), and, on occasion, supplying NSF facilities for which other agencies pay. NSF-funded PIs can also participate in field campaigns sponsored by other agencies through individual grants. ATM indirectly supports field programs by supporting investigators to develop research capabilities that are then employed in campaigns funded by other agencies. In the case of INDOEX, the C4 STC was instrumental in initiating and carrying out the field program. To facilitate the planning of field programs, ATM requires those interested in using facilities from the NSF deployment pool to submit requests as much as two years in advance. The procedures for reviewing field programs were updated in February 2005 (NSF, 2005a). Field programs are expensive in terms of financial, facility, and personnel cost. In addition to immediate scientific results, they produce a wealth of data that can be mined repeatedly as new questions emerge as the field matures, because an area is revisited, or if there is a need for an expanded sample. In addition, they allow the exploration of phenomena in a wealth of climate regimes and geographical locations. As the atmospheric sciences have become more complex, conducting field programs has presented new challenges for ATM in determining how to support these efforts, including: Increased demand for facilities. Particularly for the large and diverse lower-atmosphere community, there is significant demand for facilities that often leads to conflicts in scheduling. Carefully developed protocols for requesting facilities years in advance, negotiation with NSF program officers and facility providers, and input from the Observing Facility Advisory Panel have often, but not always, resolved conflicts. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that scheduling is often driven by probable weather and the scheduling of other facilities belonging to other agencies and countries (e.g., University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System) or the schedules of cooperating institutions. Need for a strategic approach to data archiving. Access can be challenging for those desiring data from operational observational and monitoring networks (including surface, upper air, radar, and satellite), as well as from field-program data, historical data, and numerical model data. Currently, there are varied destinations for data archival, including
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences NCAR, Web sites set up by universities, and data archives established by other government agencies (e.g., National Climatic Data Center). For lower-atmospheric field campaigns back to the early 1990s, UCAR/JOSS has served as a center for data archiving for observational data and model simulations, or as a clearinghouse for PI-supported datasets archived elsewhere. In addition, the NCAR Research Aviation Facility has some aircraft data archived back to the 1980s, and GATE data are archived on the NCAR Mass Store, with hard copy and microfilm in the UCAR Archives. Likewise, HAO maintains data archives from its solar instruments. Furthermore, the Coupling of Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions, a program addressing issues related to the upper atmosphere, has maintained an archive at NCAR for over a decade; and the solar physics community makes data on the Sun available on the Web through the interagency and international Virtual Solar Observatory. Other government agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, and DOE, also have made efforts to establish data archives for data from field programs, satellite instruments, and monitoring networks. For example, NASA operates nine Distributed Active Archive Centers that provide storage and access to a wide range of environmental observational and model data (NRC, 1999c). For NSF-funded research, there is not always a clear responsibility for providing archived data to researchers from both large, multi-investigator field experiments and small field experiments, and the decisions made vary from experiment to experiment. Thus, data archival formats, quality control, and metadata are not necessarily standardized. The older datasets are in formats that are increasingly inaccessible, and some data from earlier but potentially significant field programs are not archived in a central place. Further, from time to time, retiring scientists are approaching JOSS or UCAR, wishing to find a permanent home for potentially valuable photographs, notes, or data. Finally, there are datasets residing in the NCAR archives that are valuable but difficult to use (old photographic plates of solar images from the HAO Climax Observatory, films from GATE and MONEX). At present, there is neither a formal procedure nor is funding set aside for dealing with these problems. However, JOSS and the NCAR Archives have worked with the researchers on an ad hoc basis to ensure that valuable resources and datasets are not lost, and to help access historic data. Maintaining access to data analysis tools. It is becoming increasingly difficult to access older data from the standard observing network and from field programs because changing technology and analysis packages make these datasets more difficult to analyze. Even when the data are readily available, there are no standardized plotting/analysis software packages available. To be able to compare analyses from different cases, it is useful to be able to look at data plotted and analyzed with the same software package.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences Supporting data analysis. Inadequate time and resources for analysis of data collected in the field has been a problem for decades. LeMone (1983) reported that it took six years to reach the peak in publications from GATE data. There was a time lag of five to six years between the Cooperative Convective Precipitation Experiment (1981) and the peak in resulting publications, and the peak in Florida Area Cumulus Experiment publications was four years after the experiment. Some scientists analyzing TOGA COARE data ran out of funding before they completed analysis and publication; some even ran out of funding before they obtained all their data. A two- to ten-year post-analysis phase is recognized in the lifetime of a generic large NSF field program, discussed in the recently released document, “Field Program Support at UCAR” (UCAR, 2005). However, NSF’s new procedures for reviewing field programs (NSF, 2005a) emphasize advance notice more than the post-field phase. Because analysis comes at the end of a field program and competes against the start of other new field programs, it is at times subject to reduction in support. Thus, support for field data archives, visualization tool development, and analysis is not commensurate with the investment in obtaining the measurements and the full benefit from the investment in a field program often is not realized. Providing adequate time for careful analysis and synthesis of field data, which today typically involves complementary numerical simulations, increases the probability of significant payoff. Grant durations longer than three years allow more time for data analysis. Spacing of field programs. Increasing the time between field programs allows more time and money for data analysis, and could mitigate the increased demand for facilities. However, these factors have to be balanced against the benefits of more closely spaced field programs. The large infrastructure maintained to operate the facilities requires a certain level and frequency of use, not only to justify its existence, but to test instruments and maintain proficiency of the personnel, a requirement for airplane pilots. Furthermore, field programs are effective ways to inspire and recruit new students and to stimulate new questions. A need for longer-term sustained intensive measurements. While ATM has a distinguished record in supporting long-term measurements of the upper atmosphere (Table 4-2) and the Sun (Box 4-4), current ATM policies and procedures for lower-atmosphere field programs are consistent with instrument deployments of the order of a few months. However, many problems related to weather and climate—for example, the interaction between the atmosphere and Earth’s surface in the context of heat, moisture, or biogeochemical cycles—require sustained, specially designed, and focused measurements for a complete annual cycle or even several years. There are examples where ATM supported longer-term measurement goals
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences by supporting field programs on an episodic basis (e.g., First ISLSCP [International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project] Field Experiment in the 1980s), but sustained measurements are often needed. There are also efforts within other divisions of NSF to develop capabilities for long-term observations over the ocean (e.g., Ocean Research Interactive Observatory Networks Ocean Observing Initiative [ORION OOI]) and the land surface (e.g., the proposed Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. [CUASHI] Hydrological Observatories, Long Term Ecological Research). Operational weather- and climate-monitoring networks provide observations over the longer term, but often not at the intensive level needed for process studies. ATM has not yet clearly articulated mechanisms for supporting field programs that require continuous, longer-term (i.e., up to multiyear) deployment and observations not available from operational monitoring networks. This type of observation protocol is generally ill suited to the existing funding opportunities, in part because they were prohibitively expensive until recently. Many instruments that would be used are now less expensive, making it reasonable to deploy them in the field for longer durations. Adapting to a changing international scene. Historically, the United States usually has been the leader or at least a major partner in international field efforts. In the past few years, however, the major leadership in field programs has started to come from other nations. For example, the African Monsoon Multiscale Analysis field program is a large international field program supported by the European Union and led by France. Development of innovative observing techniques and methods. For the U.S. atmospheric science community to remain at the cutting edge of field research, innovative techniques and methods need to be developed in order to obtain the observations needed to test hypotheses, better resolve the variability and structure of the atmosphere, and understand the coupling of the atmosphere to the land, cryosphere, ocean, and space. Once developed and proven these new methods need be transferred to facilities that can make them available to the broader community. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES Each mode of support employed by ATM provides some resources for educational activities (see Table 4-5). 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. At some universities, ATM has awarded block or umbrella grants, renewed every 3–5 years, that provided the advantage of a clear funding track for students throughout their Ph.D. tenure. NSF-wide and ATM-led initiatives also support a wide range of
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences TABLE 4-5 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 SOARS® Resources for graduate students 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) (NOAA, Navy, Airforce, Meteorological Service of Canada) Numerous projects through UCAR Education and Outreach (funded by NASA) Summer colloquium for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers 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, postdoctoral fellowships, sabbatical and scholarly exchanges International collaboration Provide resources for graduate research, postdoctoral fellowships, sabbatical and scholarly exchanges
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences 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® has been successful at 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 (see Box 4-6). ATM also supports a postdoctoral program through the Advanced Studies Program at NCAR. Additional educational and outreach activities, including summer workshops and colloquia, and 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 undergraduate 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. Because relatively few undergraduate programs offer degrees in the atmospheric sciences, the field does not benefit from the strong pipeline of students typical of other disciplines. Thus, highly talented students may be unaware of career opportunities in the atmospheric sciences or of many possible applications of training in the atmospheric sciences to other careers. While there is not a shortage of applicants for graduate studies, it is not clear that a sufficient number of top students are being attracted to the field (Vali et al., 2002). Indeed, as opportunities for science and engineering careers increase, there will be greater competition to attract talented students to the atmospheric sciences. Attracting more high-caliber students would benefit the atmospheric sciences as a whole, allowing the field to advance more quickly on many research fronts that are important to our nation and the rest of the world.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences BOX 4-6 SOARS® Achievements and Successes Academic and workforce success: 3 earned their Ph.D. in science or engineering 16 currently in Ph.D. graduate programs 37 earned their MS in science or engineering 15 currently in MS graduate programs 65 have earned undergraduate degrees in science or engineering 15 are presently undergraduates 24 SOARS® protégés entered workforces of NOAA, EPA, and NCAR Protégés honored in the field 3 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Graduate Fellows 3 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellows 4 NASA predoctoral fellowships Protégés contributing to the scientific community 67 oral presentations at national or regional conferences or meetings 122 posters at national or regional conferences or meetings 12 refereed, protégé co-authored published papers from SOARS® research The significant national investment in an excellent university infrastructure, a large national center in the atmospheric sciences, and other laboratories and institutions also warrants increased efforts to engage more extremely bright students in the atmospheric sciences. In particular, NCAR offers numerous exciting opportunities for aspiring scientists. In the past, NCAR has offered a fellowship program for graduate students; NCAR recently initiated a visitor program for graduate students, which is “designed to provide NCAR staff opportunities to bring graduate students to NCAR for 3- to 12-month collaborative visits with the endorsement of their thesis advisors and in pursuit of their thesis research” (UCAR, 2006a). Opportunities at NCAR for undergraduate and graduate students are especially valuable because so many students in the atmospheric sciences come to the field from other disciplines. A summer program near the beginning of one’s graduate studies could provide an excellent orientation to the various active avenues of research in the field. The oceanography community has found this to be the case for an NSF-supported summer program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for upper-level undergraduate students.
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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences Given the critical role of the atmospheric sciences in society’s wellbeing, it is important to cast as wide a net as possible in attracting the next generation of atmospheric scientists. Because many colleges do not offer atmospheric science degrees, undergraduates may not be aware of the field. There are opportunities to locate talent that would not otherwise be attracted to our field, for example, students from minority-serving institutions, those with backgrounds in the liberal arts, first-generation students, and students from junior colleges. Women and those students who belong to underrepresented minority groups should be sought out in particular. The geosciences are recruiting a smaller percentage of minority students than other scientific fields. Attracting undergraduate students to summer, hands-on programs supervised by scientific mentors is a valuable pipeline for potential talent in the atmospheric sciences. Better communicating the potential career opportunities afforded by a degree in atmospheric sciences, both within the field and in other careers that require strong analytical and technical skills, may also attract students to the field. Likewise, lectures given at minority-serving institutions, liberal arts colleges, and junior colleges can help find and attract talented students who would not otherwise know about the opportunities in the atmospheric sciences. Most U.S. atmospheric science departments are relatively small compared with the extensive subject matter that constitutes the atmospheric sciences. Also, many tools are valuable in state-of-the-art atmospheric sciences research, but they are unavailable in many atmospheric science departments. Thus graduate students in the atmospheric sciences may not have access to courses or opportunities to learn about important subject areas. The situation is particularly challenging for observational tools, as discussed above. Another example is the use of reanalysis products developed based on modern data assimilation techniques. Learning about the methods used in data reanalysis would help students understand the proper use of these reanalysis products and decrease the potential for their misuse. Other examples in the area of research tools might be graphical techniques or modern statistical methods. It would benefit the U.S. atmospheric science education effort if collaborative instructional materials were available to universities that do not have in-house capabilities to teach such material.
Representative terms from entire chapter: