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NOAA News Releases 2003
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The largest research center at the University of Oklahoma (OU), the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS), celebrates its 25th anniversary this month. A joint research institute affiliated with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), CIMMS supports scientists and graduate students who conduct research in hazardous weather, mesoscale meteorology, regional climate and related subject areas.

Established in 1978 through a memorandum of agreement between OU and NOAA, CIMMS is the second oldest research center at OU. The joint institute’s research expenditures totaled $10.8 million in FY 2002 and $9.2 million in FY2003, which constituted 18.3 percent and 16.5 percent of the total research expenditures of the OU Norman Campus in those years.

CIMMS provides the vehicle by which about 190 faculty members, research scientists, visiting scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students, through collaborative research with NOAA scientists, contribute to the NOAA missions of providing accurate and timely forecasts and warnings of hazardous weather and regional climate variations.

“CIMMS is an excellent example of a partnership that works,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The Cooperative Institute is a lead contributor to NOAA’s applied research mission that ultimately benefits every American. The research covers an impressive range – from developing weather radar for earlier detection of tornadoes, to monitoring changing climate, to understanding the socio-economic impacts of hazardous weather.”

“OU is tremendously proud of the record established by the institute over the past 25 years,” said OU President David L. Boren. “This unique partnership has clearly produced one of the most important weather research centers in the world.”

The mission of CIMMS is to act as a research interface between NOAA and the University and to assist in the transition of research products into operational procedures and techniques.

“CIMMS allows the partners to capitalize on the best attributes of each other,” said Peter J. Lamb, CIMMS director and George Lynn Cross Research Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. “The institute provides a means to promote collaborative research on mesoscale meteorological and regional climate phenomena in a broad range of contexts, and especially to enhance the effectiveness of that research.”

CIMMS now partners with units in three of NOAA’s five line offices –– the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the National Weather Service (NWS), and the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS). The NOAA units with which CIMMS has partnered most strongly in recent years are the OAR National Severe Storms Laboratory, NWS Warning Decision Training Branch, NWS Storm Prediction Center, NWS Radar Operations Center, NWS Forecast Office, all in Norman, Okla., as well as the NWS Southern Region Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, NESDIS National Climate Data Center in Asheville, N.C., NWS International Activities Office and OAR Office of Global Programs in Silver Spring, Md.

Principal current partners with CIMMS at OU are the School of Meteorology, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, a state agency located at OU.

In March 1978, Dr. Rex Inman, Director of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, submitted the proposal to NOAA that established CIMMS. At that time, the vision for CIMMS was to “promote research and teaching in the area of mesoscale meteorology.” Yoshi Sasaki followed Inman as interim director and then director from 1980 to 1986, followed by Douglas Lilly. Lamb has served as director since 1991.

CIMMS research is focused around a targeted number of themes. Those themes are: basic convective and mesoscale meteorological research; forecast improvements; research into the climatic effects of/controls on mesoscale processes; investigation of the socioeconomic impacts of mesoscale weather systems and regional-scale climate variations; Doppler weather radar research and development; and climate change monitoring and detection.

“CIMMS research contributes to the NOAA mission through improvement of the observation, analysis, understanding, and prediction of weather elements and systems and climate anomalies ranging in size from tiny cloud droplets to multi-state and multi-national areas,” Lamb said.

Observational and analytical technique advances lead to improved understanding of the evolution and structure of these phenomena. This understanding provides the foundation for more accurate prediction of hazardous weather and unusual regional climate

Better prediction contributes to improved social and economic welfareCIMMS research contributes to improved understanding of regional climate variability and change and the functioning of the overall global climate system, Lamb explained.

The research and development performed within CIMMS are reported in approximately 50 peer-reviewed journal publications each year, and also produce highly valued meteorological instrumentation and computer software systems.

Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center colleges offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. OU enrolls more than 30,000 students, has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members, and has 19 colleges offering 150 majors at the baccalaureate level, 142 majors at the master’s level, 76 majors at the doctoral level, 30 majors at the first professional level, and five graduate certificates. The university’s annual operating budget is more than $1 billion.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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