Friday, January 18, 2008

Weather Coalition Town Hall Meeting 1/22/08

Is the Weather Enterprise Ready for the Next Administration?

Town Hall Meeting at the AMS Annual Meeting
Tuesday, January 22
7:15-8:15 AM (Light breakfast)
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 208

The Weather Coalition, an advocacy group composed of members from
industry, academia, and scientific and professional associations, will
hold a Town Hall Meeting to discuss coalition priorities and advocacy
strategies for the second session of the 110th Congress, and the next

Climate change issues have gained traction in Congress. This has
created an important opportunity for the weather enterprise to advance
its agenda – but it will take the active participation of the entire
enterprise to be successful. Legislation of relevance to our community
should move forward next year, including the NOAA Organic Act. What
issues are important to the weather enterprise in such an act? In this
time of declining budgets, have the following community priorities

* Restore NOAA budget (FY08 below FY05 levels)
* Pass a NOAA Organic Act (including language to create a Weather
Services Advisory Committee and support for extramural research
* Support the NOAA Profiler Network
* Support for Observing Systems
* Pass Hurricane Research Legislation

This timely discussion will help guide our advocacy efforts for this
year and beyond. The meeting will include an update by Joel Widder of
Lewis-Burke Associates on the outcome of the FY08 Omnibus Bill for
agencies of importance to our work and a brief presentation by Jack
Fellows on a community transition document. We urge you to join us
for this heavy discussion and light breakfast!

For more information, contact Laura Curtis at

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

AMS workshop 1/20/08: Improving your writing skills -- for students and scientists

Improving Your Writing Skills -- for Students and Scientists
AMS Annual Meeting Student Conference
New Orleans, LA
Sunday, January 20, 2:00-3:30 pm
Location: Room R07
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Open to all attendees

presented by Dr. David M. Schultz
Chief Editor, Monthly Weather Review
Professor, University of Helsinki and Finnish Meteorological Institute

AMS journals reject 30% of submitted manuscripts. In this workshop, we will discuss several simple steps that practicing scientists and students can take to write a better scientific document. Whether it is a journal article, grant proposal, class project, or your dissertation, the skills you will learn in this workshop will produce immediate results. Among the items discussed in this workshop that attendees will learn about are:

* the publication process, and how to deal with cranky reviewers and authors
* how to attract an audience to your paper
* organizing a paper for maximum readability
* combating writer's block
* six tips to improve the flow and content of your writing
* shortening your writing and increasing its clarity
* ten rules for effective figures
* specific issues for writing meteorological papers

"The most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy"

"The reward of the young scientist is the...thrill of being the first person in the history of the world to see something or to understand something.... The reward of the old scientist is the sense of having seen a vague sketch grow into a masterly landscape.... He may have roughed out part of the design, laid on a few strokes, but he has learned to accept the discoveries of others with the same delight that he experienced in his own when he was young." Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Payne-Gaposchkin's Ph.D. dissertation entitled "Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars,"
was reportedly the best written on astronomy in the entire 20th century, according to noted astronomer Otto Struve. Stellar atmospheres, The Observatory, 1925; Harvard College Observatory, Monographs, no. 1.

Winner of the American Astronomical Society's Henry Norris Russell Prize in 1976, the British-American scientist achieved numerous firsts, including:
  • first woman to become a full professor at Harvard
  • first woman to become a department chair at Harvard
  • first person to receive a Ph.D. in astronomy from either Radcliffe or Harvard
  • first to show that the sun is composed primarily of hydrogen
For more information, see the website "4000 Years of Women in Science" at

Monday, January 7, 2008

Reduced U.S. funding for scientific research and education imperil budgets for NSF, NASA, NOAA, DOE's Office of Science, and UCAR/NCAR

The following letter is reprinted with permission of its author to highlight the serious underfunding of scientific research and the need for continuing advocacy.

Dear friends and colleagues,

As you no doubt read over the holidays, Congress has completed and the president has signed into law the federal budget for FY08. While the FY08 process started out with hopes for a strong budget for science, the political differences between the Congress and the Administration led to a collapse in the process which resulted in real reductions in Federal support for research and education. These reductions will likely affect many UCAR and NCAR programs negatively over the rest of the year.

The fiscal year began officially on October 1, 2007. Government agencies were kept operating through continuing resolutions, essentially at FY07 levels. Congress and the White House were $22 billion apart (Congress budgeting the higher numbers) on discretionary spending which includes the budgets for NSF, NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Negotiations between the White House and Congress failed to bring about any compromise, with the president, helped by a core group of Republicans, holding firm to his top line request for overall spending of $933 billion. Given the Democrats’ slim margin of control in Congress, the Congressional leadership was unable to assemble a veto-proof majority and therefore could not overcome the threatened presidential veto of a funding bill that exceeded the president’s request.

NSF was an important part of the Administration’s multi-year American Competitiveness Initiative, and its budget was slated to double over the next several years. The FY08 outcome interrupted that progress and also eliminated improvements for other science agencies. The Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman David Obey (D-WI), indicated that Congress had to restore funding and "fill some of the unacceptable holes" in the President's budget request within an overall budget that essentially freezes discretionary spending. To do this, funding for many of the programs and initiatives supported by industry and the university community were reduced significantly below the levels recommended earlier this year.

NSF’s research budget will increase by only 1.2 percent over FY07, instead of the anticipated 8 percent increase. NOAA’s overall budget is $182 million below FY 2007. Recall that the FY 2007 NOAA budget was more or less frozen at the FY 2006 level. The DOE Office of Science budget received about half of its proposed increase with close to half of that modest increase for special congressional “earmarked” projects. The NASA Science Mission Directorate fares somewhat better with an overall increase of 5.4 percent over the FY07 level. The congressional attempt to supplement the NASA budget by $1 billion failed. For omnibus bill language and details on budget numbers for these agencies, please see the UCAR Government Affairs web site at

Unfortunately, FY 2009 is not likely to be much better given the relationship that exists between the Congress and the White House and the fact that this is a Presidential election year. Nevertheless, it is my intent to continue to speak out, mobilize the atmospheric science community and work closely with the rest of the Nation’s research and education enterprise to convince our policy makers of the importance of investing adequately in science in order to meet our economic, environmental and health-related needs of our Nation.

Agencies are now putting together their FY08 work plans based on the new budget numbers and we must be realistic in our expectations given the disappointing outcome of the FY 08 appropriations process. UCAR and NCAR management will meet with agency leadership to continue to communicate and promote the importance of our scientific plans to the greatest extent possible. We will keep you informed of developments.

Sorry for the bad news.

Dr.Richard A. Anthes, President
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Boulder, Colorado