Boulder / ERL

S I T E   T O U R

   Boulder, Colorado, in the foothills of the Rockies. In addition to being a major university town, Boulder is also home to 6 of NOAA's Environmental Research Labs.
   Several of them are now headquartered here in this brand new, environment-friendly building on South Broadway. Its "moat" was specially designed to keep its profile low and preserve Boulder's famous mountain views!).  
It's called the "David Skaggs Research Center"--as you'll find out in one of our UPDATES-STORM, "Who is or was David Skaggs?" is one of our Challenge Questions!
   Inside you immediately see reminders that NOAA's research interests extend from space--symbolized by this replica of a GOES satellite--to the bottom of the ocean, represented by the water-filled glass shell.
   NOAA also studies the Sun, and provides the nation's "space weather" forecasts. Our local star, shining through the glass sculpture, casts shimmering reflections on a white sphere covered with what look like scientific equations explaining Sun, Earth, atmosphere and oceans.
   Boulder is also home to the National Institute of Standards, keeper of the atomic clock, accurate to one nanasecond in millions of years!
   NOAA is also open to sharing its research with the public, and the lobby has several hands-on exhibits, like this bowl full of clouds and water vapor, symbol of the most important element bringing life to Earth, as well as shaping its weather.
   But the most important element in this lobby are the men and women of NOAA and its research labs, who pass through here every day on their way to work.
   Patrice Kucera once worked as a forecaster for the National Weather Service, and now brings those frontline skills to the design of a new generation of displays, AWIPS, which brings radar, satellite, balloon and ground station data all together on one, easy-to-use, interactive desktop.
   This is also home to people like Ed Rozke, a self-confessed weather fanatic who now uses his computer skills in the Forecast System Lab, FSL, coming up with new software and visual tools to make weather prediction more accurate and more accessible.
   Today Ed also gives the regular 11:00 a.m. weather briefing, using high-resolution graphics to bring the latest information from all of NOAA's resources to fellow researchers. But this was winter, and many wondered out loud why the East Coast was having storms--and Boulder had no snow to ski on!
   Deborah Miller loves her job, as well as supporting education and outreach activities--but her interest in weather is deadly serious. She's a medical technician, married to a firefighter, and she's working on a project to bring local weather information directly to emergency managers, in the field.

   It's called LDADS, for Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination System. Here you can see a display showing soil moisture, mountain by mountain, acre by acre. It's what a firefighter needs to attack wildfires intelligently, and save lives.

   Fire season comes when the season's dry and hot, and this building also houses NOAA's Space Environment Center, designed to study the Sun, its periodic eruptions of matter and energy, and its impact on Earth.
   If you visit Boulder, you can look in through this viewing window and observe "space weather" forecasting in action. Or you can check out the LIVE FROM THE SUN website to find out much more! (CRAIG--LINK HERE!!!)
   From these NOAA labs. in Boulder come many of the amazing visualizations of weather and climate you'll be seeing during LIVE FROM THE STORM, such as this depiction of the jet stream pushing down over North America. They're primarily designed to make a forecaster's job easier and his or her predictions more precise, but they'll also help you (EMPHASIS FOR "YOU" ITAL???) experience weather with new eyes!

   Boulder, CO, bring the secrets of the Sun and weather down to Earth, and finding new ways to make the complex understandable.

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