Congress Awards Colorado State University’s Geosciences Center $1.8 Million for Homeland Security

Congress has awarded Colorado State University’s Center for Geosciences a $1.8 million grant to support the nation’s homeland security efforts. The grant was made possible through a special amendment offered by Colorado U.S. Senator Wayne Allard to the fiscal year 2002 Department of Defense appropriations bill approved by Congress Dec. 20.

The center, led by Tom Vonder Haar, a Colorado State University distinguished professor of atmospheric science, was created in 1986 and has a long history of providing research to the Department of Defense.

"I am extremely pleased that Colorado State University’s Center for Geosciences has been awarded this grant," said Allard. "The grant will go toward the study of weather patterns and how they affect military operations. The award is a further recognition of the outstanding work professor Vonder Haar and his staff are doing in the areas of climate changes and how those changes are affecting our day-to-day lives."

The Geosciences Center is a multidisciplinary effort housed in the College of Engineering that includes faculty from the Colleges of Engineering, Natural Sciences and Natural Resources. The research that has come from Colorado State faculty, staff, and nearly 90 graduate students over 15 years has provided vital information in the areas of meteorology and hydrology.

The center was awarded the funds by the DOD’s Army Research Laboratory to provide environmental research for both military and civilian concerns. The research that will be provided to Army, Navy and Air Force scientists will be related to homeland defense as well as predicting and managing natural disasters both in the United States and around the world.

"The new funding allows us to continue Colorado State’s multidisciplinary research in these key areas. U.S. aircraft operations in the war against terrorism and local area missile defense for the homeland are both significantly affected by weather conditions," said Vonder Haar.

Important research from the center has included advances in overcoming different types of weather during military operations in wartime, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. In an age of precision-guided weapons, virtual reality simulations and satellite coverage of the battlefield are sensitive to weather. The impacts of weather range from atmospheric clouds and moisture obscuring target-to-sensor views to bogged-down tanks and trucks after the moisture rains out of the atmosphere.

The funding for the new research is being driven in part by significant changes being faced by U.S. military at home and abroad. The center is assisting with the change in the geo-political landscape by producing a global-scale cloud database at an unprecedented resolution. The database will be used to support global simulations of military operations in extreme climate conditions, training for pilots and to aid in forecasting.

With the new threat of biological weapons, the center also is focusing on improved toxic dispersion research using atmospheric and hydrologic models and observational improvements in low-level winds.