Mesoscale dynamics and storm structure

The awesome power of hazardous weather and the devastation it causes has drawn students for decades into atmospheric sciences. Virtually everyone on earth is affected by hazardous weather and almost everyone is curious about how and why it develops. In the last fifty years, we have learned more about hazardous weather processes than in all of human history, but still we have just scratched the surface and, as Hurricane Sandy reminded us, so much more needs to be done. Research in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences covers a full range of hazardous weather, from winter storms to thunderstorms to hurricanes. We tackle this research through both field work and numerical modeling. 

Students in our department have flown in research aircraft alongside severe thunderstorms and into the heart of winter cyclones and hurricanes. They have used Doppler radars and other instrumentation to investigate the structure of weather systems and deduce their internal dynamics, thermodynamics and microphysics. Our students carry out advanced numerical simulations of all types of hazardous weather systems, testing hypotheses about their structure derived from their understanding of the observations they helped to collect. Our faculty and students work with in house state-of-the-art instrumentation systems such as SCAMP (System for Characterizing And Measuring Precipitation), a mobile suite of instruments comprised of a vertically pointing Doppler radar and lidar, a particle spectrometer, optical disdrometer, rain/snow gauge, aerosol optical particle sizer, and a weather station, and instrumentation platforms such as research aircraft from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Students have worked with such systems in locations around the world, carrying out investigations that push the forefront of our understanding. Our faculty and students expand the reach of that understanding of storm processes into impacts upon our society, both in analyzing the risks we face now as well in our changing climate. Our students have been in field campaigns in locations as diverse as Australia, Africa, the Caribbean, and as close as the Great Lakes, sharing in the responsibility for collection and analysis of state-of-the-art datasets that will lead to future breakthroughs in our science. You can take part in this exciting work.

Want to learn more? See these faculty websites: