The National Center for Atmospheric Research is a prestigious scientific establishment based in the city of Boulder, Colorado. NCAR is dedicated to the study of important disciplines such as meteorology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry and pollution, and the impact of the atmosphere upon the environment and our society. The cutting edge research made at Boulder’s NRAC laboratory has helped us better understand vital aspects such as global warming and the environmental impact of mankind upon the atmosphere.
After the World War II interest in meteorology and climate research dropped sharply, a situation which prompted the universities which held Ph.D. in this field to create a dedicated institution. The National Center for Atmospheric Research was established in Boulder in 1960, as a nonprofit organization managed by a corporation of American universities, and backed by the National Science Foundation.
The NRAC laboratory in Boulder is set on top a mesa, the distinctive relief feature of the Front Range. The backdrop of the Rockies combined with the inspiring architecture of the complex, offers a memorable experience to the visitors of the laboratory. The design of the main building of the campus is signed by renowned modernist architect I.M. Pei and is inspired by the dwellings of the local Anasazi Indians. In order to create a blending effect between the modern scientific building and the rugged surrounding offered by the Flatiron Hills, Pei used a series of techniques such as bush-hammering the concrete and using a pink aggregate to build the façade of the laboratory. The NCAR campus is touted by architects as an example of combining manmade structures and the natural environment in a harmonious manner.
Over the years, the NCAR laboratory positioned itself on the cutting edge of scientific endeavors, contributing to massive advancements in the field of atmospheric research. During the early 70s, the laboratory was the first institution to acquire a Cray supercomputer, which it used to study the complex models of atmospheric circulation. This tradition is carried on to this day, when scientists from NCAR use state-of-the-art supercomputers to study everything from hurricane movements to global warming. The researchers at the NCAR lab in Boulder contributed massively to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its effort on fighting global warming.
Visitors can easily access the NRAC facilities from Boulder, and take part on a guided tour through the premises of this attractive institution. The highlights of the tour include hands on simulations of spectacular weather phenomena, such as tornados and lightning. Visitors can also see the original supercomputer which first equipped the lab, as well as the modern facilities used by scientists to study the climate. An outdoor weather tour takes the visitors through the scenic surroundings of the laboratory. Those who wish to take a souvenir from the NCAR can even buy one at the on-the-premises scientific store.
The NCAR laboratory in Boulder, Colorado is a fascinating place for everyone who is interested in science, architecture or the awe inspiring power of Mother Nature.