Commonly known as thunderstorms, convective storms are the atmospheric phenomenon responsible for weather hazards such as lightning, heavy rain, hail, and tornadoes. The tendency of convective storms to generate these hazards depends in part on whether the convection organizes into mesoscale convective systems such as squall lines, or into the long-lived convective cells known as supercells; these storm types have unique dynamical structure that is largely controlled by the three-dimensional humidity, temperature, and wind in the environment of the developing convection. In addition to severe storms in the US, DAS faculty have studied convective storms globally from field campaign data and satellite remote sensing.
Much of what is understood about these convective-storm types, and how they relate to environmental conditions, is a direct result of scientific tools and discoveries made by Departmental faculty, students, and research staff. These relationships are routinely used by forecasters when they issue weather watches and warnings. Current limits on the accuracy of these watches and warnings are due to knowledge gaps that will be need to be addressed by cutting-edge research activities such as those within the Department. Field research is one example activity: Faculty, staff, and students traditionally have high-level involvement in major field campaigns around the world, and help to collect data using aircraft, mobile Doppler and state of the art dual-polarization radars, and other sophisticated instrumentation. Experimental research using numerical models is another example activity and well-known Departmental strength. Tools such as the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model are used to simulate storm events, which are then virtually dissected via advanced analysis and visualization techniques.
Want to learn more? See these faculty websites: