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Press Release  
Release Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 11:11 AM
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Media Contact:
Ron Harris
Director of Communications
Howard’s Center for Atmospheric Sciences Charts Expanded Mission with $15 M Commerce Department Award

WASHINGTON – Howard University’s NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) has been awarded $2.625M for year one and up to $15 million over five years by the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct research and educational efforts in weather, climate, air quality, and environmental literacy.

NCAS, a consortium of six educational institutions led by Howard University, has been supported by core funding from the Department of Commerce since 2001. The other schools are Jackson State University, the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Texas El Paso, State University of New York Albany and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.

The Center has focused on research to improve weather, climate and air quality prediction through integrated observations, like the field campaigns to explore the long-range transport of African dust and its effects on hurricanes or the effects of biomass smoke and other pollutants on the air quality and health.

At the Center’s internationally recognized Beltsville Center for Climate System Observation in Beltsville, Md., NCAS seeks to improve the lead time and accuracy of severe weather forecasts, provide air quality prediction and support that helps the National Weather Service and others make better weather- and emergency-related decisions.

NCAS is led by Vernon Morris, Ph.D., principal investigator and director for the past decade. The center won the award after a nationwide competition.

“The team of investigators that assembled for this effort is one of the most talented and vibrant cadre of scientists with whom I have ever been privileged to work.” Morris said.

“We have added key faculty from the School of Communications, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Sociology who bring additional social science research capacity to NCAS. They allow us to extend our research to include the societal dimension of environmental change, its measurement and its prediction.”

Aside from its current efforts, NCAS will include four new areas of research.

  • Risk Communication Analysis – NCAS will examine ways to improve weather and emergency messages and the way they are communicated so communities respond better to emergency conditions, such as hurricanes, tornados and flooding. While NCAS will work to improve overall messaging, it will also focus on how to better communicate to African-American, Hispanic and other minority communities.
  • Air Quality Health Research – NCAS will examine how to better translate and correlate daily changes in the air that can affect people’s immediate and long-term health.
  • Aerobiology and Climate – NCAS will examine how climate changes, such as an extended summer or a short fall, affect the amount and density of biological elements in the air, such as bacteria or the flu virus, which in turn can affect people.
  • Novel Environmental Sensing Technologies – NCAS will develop new technologies as well as new uses of existing technology to measure the environment.
A vital component of NCAS is to use cutting-edge NOAA mission research to educate and train the nation’s next generation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The NCAS partnership with NOAA and collaborations with public and private sector institutions are a resource for the scientific community and a model for future STEM workforce production and training programs. NCAS invites you to follow it on Twitter, friend it on Facebook, and visit the website at

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