University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

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The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a nonprofit consortium of more than 75 universities offering Ph.D.s in the atmospheric and related sciences. UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and provides additional services to strengthen and support research and education through its community programs. Its headquarters, in Boulder, Colorado, include NCAR's Mesa Laboratory, designed by I.M. Pei.

UCAR was established in 1959 by faculty from 14 leading universities to support and nourish the atmospheric sciences. They were motivated by a newly recognized need for pooled observational and computational facilities and a strong research staff, which together would allow the academic community to carry out complex, long-term scientific programs beyond the reach of individual universities.[1]

This group’s first major action, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, was to establish NCAR. Since then, UCAR has managed NCAR on behalf of NSF to address pressing scientific and societal needs involving the atmosphere and its interactions with the oceans, land, and Sun—what is now called Earth system science.

Community programs[edit]

UCAR’s role in supporting and complementing the work of academia has grown to include new research, service, and education efforts, including

  • COMET Program - offers professional training on site and online in meteorology, weather hazards, hydrology, oceanography, emergency management, and environmental science
  • COSMIC Program [1] - supports satellite and ground-based observations and research using GPS technology for meteorology, climate, and ionospheric studies
  • GLOBE Program - provides hands-on, school-based learning and collaboration with a global network of students, scientists, and educators
  • Unidata Program - provides streaming observational data to university classrooms and researchers around the world

The organization hosts numerous workshops, community meetings, and opportunities for collaboration throughout the year.

Governance and funding[edit]

As of 2011, UCAR comprises 76 member universities, 25 academic affiliates, and 52 international affiliates. The organization has a total of 1,560 staff, including 1,008 at NCAR and 278 engaged in community programs. Total expenditures for fiscal year 2009 (October 2008–September 2009) were approximately $210 million.[2]

UCAR and NCAR are headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, spread across four campuses. Ancillary activities take place in Washington, D.C., and in about 15 other states.

Walter Orr Roberts was UCAR’s first president. Thomas Bogdan has been president of the organization since 2012.

In addition to NSF sponsorship, funding includes grants from and contracts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies and organizations.

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