NOAA Hollings Students present Summer Research Projects

Eight undergraduate students from around the U.S. are presenting the results of their summer research projects this week as part of the NOAA Hollings Scholars program.  The prestigious opportunity is designed to help encourage students to pursue a future career in atmospheric science research.

Ten NSSL and NSSL/Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies researchers and four Storm Prediction Center forecasters have donated their time to mentor a student through the research process.  The scientists and students choose a project and end their experience with a formal presentation on their results.  Students are also treated to tours, field trips, and lectures.

2009 NOAA Hollings Scholars and projects:

Madison Burnett, University of Missouri

Mentors: Travis Smith, Valliappa Lakshmanan, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies/National Severe Storms Laboratory

“Improvements to Cluster Identification and Tracking in a Circulation Detection Algorithm”

Elizabeth Thompson, Valparaiso University

Mentors: Ken Howard, NSSL and Katherine Willingham, CIMMS/NSSL “Characteristics of Microbursts in Central Arizona”

Darren Snively, Ohio University

Mentors: Richard Thompson, Jeremy Grams, Storm Prediction Center

“Synoptic Environments and Convective Modes Associated with Significant Tornadoes in the Contiguous United States – A Null Case Dataset”

Aaron “Ari” Preston, University of Michigan

Mentors: Don MacGorman, NSSL and Terry Schuur, CIMMS/NSSL

“Study of 3-D Total Lightning Activity Relative to Radar-Inferred Storm Parameters”

Rockwell Schrock, University of Connecticut

Mentor: Daphne Thompson, CIMMS/NSSL

“Creating a Tornado Presentation for Science on a Sphere”

Tomas Castellanos, Cornell University

Mentors: Bryan Smith, David Imy, SPC

“A Surface Observing System Measured Severe Convective Wind Analysis, 2005-2008”

Douglas Crauder, Columbia University

Mentor: Kevin Manross, CIMMS/NSSL

“Examining Polarimetric ZDR Signatures on Isothermal Surfaces Relating to Severe Hail”

Preston Carter, University of Oklahoma

Mentors: Don MacGorman, Harold Brooks, NSSL

“Five Year Lightning Climatology using the Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array”

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SHAVE: Experiment collects severe weather data through phone calls

Submitting a severe weather report to a local National Weather Service Forecast Office is voluntary.  These reports are archived and used for research, but are often incomplete. To fill in the missing pieces, students working for the National Severe Storms Laboratory are spending their summers making phone calls to the public affected by severe thunderstorms. Their job is to collect information on hail sizes, wind damage and flash flooding as part of the Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE).

NSSL/CIMMS scientists coordinating SHAVE target all types of storms to collect a diverse dataset.  The SHAVE project blends public reports with high-resolution radar data from NSSL’s Warning Decision Support System – Integrated Information and geographic information from Google Earth.  Their goal is to improve decision-making tools used by the NWS in the forecast and warning process. The collected data will also pave the way for improvements to the historical severe storms database.

The SHAVE database is also available in real-time to the NWS offices to augment their own storm spotter networks.  A NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist commented about SHAVE’s impact in his office:  “The SHAVE project inspired some of us to utilize Google Earth in operations in real time to try and get real time reports, as well as a sense of the intensity of storms as they are happening.  As a result…severe thunderstorm warning [accuracy] increased from 49% to 60%”

SHAVE is part of the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed – Experimental Warning Program, and runs from mid-May through mid-August every year. This is the fourth year of operations.

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