BOULDER - The Boulder-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research has opened an office in Washington to pursue business-development opportunities with private-sector businesses and foundations that have an interest in atmospheric research.

"UCAR will advocate for the nation's entire weather enterprise out of this office," said Thomas Bogdan, UCAR's president. "Having representation in Washington, where decision-makers and most of our funders are located, is critical as we work toward improving the nation's forecasting capabilities."

UCAR is a consortium of 104 universities, most of which grant doctoral degrees in the atmospheric sciences. It helps set priorities for the nation's research into weather, climate change, air quality and other topics in the atmospheric sciences. UCAR also manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a leading laboratory sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

The new office, at 1201 New York Ave. NW, is co-located with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Michael Henry will oversee government relations in the office. He previously advanced UCAR's government-affairs agenda as a legislative specialist in the organization's Boulder headquarters for four years. Before that, he worked in the Washington office of Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., focusing on energy and environmental issues.

Ari Gerstman will join the office on April 8 as director of business development. An expert in creating new opportunities with a wide range of companies, Gerstman focused on business development at Earth Resources Technology.

UCAR manages NCAR under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.