National Center for Atmospheric Research

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in Boulder, Colorado, was established in 1960 to serve as a focus for United States research on atmospheric and related science problems, including climate change, atmospheric chemistry, changes in atmospheric composition, mesoscale and microscale meteorology, Earth-Sun interactions, weather formation and forecasting, and the impacts of all of these components on human societies.

There are multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary efforts aimed at the development of a coupled climate system model which will simulate the complex interrelations between climate, weather, the sun, and the biosphere and oceans. Research on the societal interactions with atmospheric processes is an integral part of NCAR's program.

The Center is operated by UCAR under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The NSF has been NCAR's primary sponsor since its inception. In addition, the Center carries out research sponsored by other federal agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, DOE, EPA, and the FAA.


The idea for a center devoted to the study of weather and climate in the broadest sense, grew out of the successes of the young science of Meteorology after World War II. In the late 1950s, meteorology as a scientific discipline began to expand in both importance and impact on the nation's well-being. But there was a shortage of new scientists and a lack of focus in research programs. A national center would provide both resources and momentum for the field. The National Academy of Sciences appointed a committee to identify the components of a national research effort and ways to increase funding for the atmospheric sciences. The committee envisioned a center that would work in conjunction with the U.S. universities. NCAR has expanded its staff from the five original scientists to over 120 Ph.D. researchers. In addition, NCAR is a supercomputing center, supporting the work of university researchers from around the world through the Internet, and providing state-of- the-art Scientific Visualization ( capabilities. The Universities play a central role in both the governance and the oversight of the center. A consortium was created out of the original committee and called the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, or UCAR. Beginning with 14 universities, today UCAR has 62 members from North America, as well as International Affiliates and Academic Affiliates. The National Science Foundation became the federal sponsor for the new center and was approached for initial funding. In 1961, NSF allocated $450,000 to NCAR, with $1.5 million for 1962 and $6.5 million for 1963. Today, NSF provides over $50 million a year in funding. Other federal agencies such as NASA, NOAA, the FAA and EPA contribute to NCAR's research, along with funding from the private sector.

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