Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe)


An IMAGe Overview

When people ask "What is the purpose of the math institute at NCAR?" our short reply is "It's about new models and new tools ."

An acknowledged hallmark of mathematical science is that the same mathematical and statistical methods and models can be used to solve problems in very different contexts. NCAR has a long history of supporting innovative models and developing new algorithms and methods. Moreover, NCAR's focus on grand challenges facing the geosciences also provides a rich source of new applications for mathematics. IMAGe takes advantange of this confluence of tools and problems and accelerates the transfer of new mathematical ideas to geoscience problems. Some of these take the form of new strategies for modeling physical processes. Others are tools for interpreting complex geophysical data. IMAGe also serves as a portal for the mathematical sciences community to NCAR.

IMAGe was formed in October 2004, as part of the comprehensive reorganization of NCAR, from several existing groups from different parts of NCAR and different backgrounds. The original sections in IMAGe were Data Assimilation Research Section, the Turbulence Numerics Team/ Geophysical Turbulence Program and the Geophysical Statistics Project. In Fall 2006 a Computational Mathematics Group was added. The IMAGe Charter and reorganization subcommittee report give some history about the early planning of IMAGe and also some description of the structure.
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The common thread among the IMAGe groups is an interest in applying mathematical tools and models across many different scientific areas. Locating any of these groups in a single scientific division could limit the cross-cutting nature of the IMAGe groups. Currently IMAGe consists of approximately 25 staff with groups located at the NCAR Mesa and on the Center Green Campus. IMAGe held its first retreat in August 2006 and indicated a broad consensus to move the computational mathematics group into IMAGe. Following the retreat was a review by the IMAGe external advisory board that responded to the discussion from the retreat and also provided a broad set of recommendations and observations. Based on the specific encouragement of the board for IMAGe, at least in the near term, to play to its strengths, the Turbulence Numerics Section section initiated the Theme-of-Year for 2008 focusing on turbulence.

IMAGe Mission statement

The Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe) exists to foster, enhance and sustain strong collaborations between the geoscience and mathematical science communities and to become a center of excellence for these communities. IMAGe will bring together mathematical scientists and geoscientists from the U.S. and abroad to facilitate contacts and to disseminate knowledge through:
  • research workshops, tutorials and schools;
  • visitor, fellowship, senior under-graduate, graduate and post-doctoral programs;
  • long-term focused research activities of joint interest;
  • and the creation of innovative targeted software that is open source and developed in concert with the geoscience and mathematical science communities.
The Institute supports the NCAR and UCAR scientific programs by engaging and coordinating cross-divisional/cross-laboratory grand challenge science from a fundamental and mathematical perspective. It also helps identify the need for, and accelerate the development of advanced mathematical, computational, conceptual and statistical methods within the NCAR/UCAR community, with emphasis on multi-scale phenomena, model/data fusion, stochasticity and uncertainty.