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Studying sea to sun in Boulder.

WE STUDY EVERYTHING FROM the core of the sun to the bottom of the sea," the guide at the National Center for Atmospheric Research announces. The statement sounds like an example of scientific hubris. In factm it's the simple truth. High in the Rocky Mountain foothills, NCAR pursues the work that makes it one of the world's preeminent institutions for the study of Earth's atmosphere and the multitudinous forces that influence it--from solar magnetic storms to ocean currents to Kuwaiti oil field fires.

On page 124, we explain what centers like NCAR are learning about weather and climate. If your travels take you to Colorado, a visit here will teach you more.

A PEI PUEBLO

ON TABLE MESA

NCAR'S settling testifies to the power of nature: the center sits on Table Mesa above Boulder, with the Flatirons rising to the west and the Great Plains spreading east beneath a broad Colorado sky. The I.M. Pei-designed buildings live up to the site's drama, with geometrical forms that derive from the mountains and Pueblo Indian dwelling of Mesa Verde.

NCAR was founded in 1960. Its goal is to unite previously separate scientific disciplines in study of the Earth's atmosphere. Some hundred physicists, chemists, climatologists, and other scientists do research here. Their four main areas of study are climate, atmospheric chemistry (including ozone depletion and global warming), mesoscale meteorology (storms), and solar physics.

You can view the center on self-guided tours (pick up a free pamphlet in the lobby) or guided ones. We recommend the latter; they're unusually informative. On our visit, we learned about research on thunderstorms, solar eclipses, and termites--yes, termites, which are believed to contribute 15 percent of the atmosphere's methane (methane is strongly linked to global warming). The tours wind up in the computer room, where you see the climate-modeling CRAY super-computer, kept at a constant 68[degrees] and 40 percent humidity.

NCAR is open to visitors 8 to 5 weekdays, 9 to 3 weekends; guided tours run at noon Wednesday (June through August, guided tours run Mondays through Saturdays). From U.S. 36 in Boulder, take the Table Mesa exit west; continue 4 miles up the mesa to the center. For tour and other information, call (303) 497-1174 or 497-1173.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:373
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