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October 24, 2018

Atmospheric scientists to weather the stormiest place on Earth

In 2006, Kristen Rasmussen read a paper titled, “Where are the most intense thunderstorms on Earth?” – and she was hooked.

The answer was a sparse region in Argentina’s Andean foothills. Rasmussen, then a University of Washington graduate student, flung herself into studying the monstrous storms that darken subtropical South American skies: their structure, their genesis, and why they occur there, and not elsewhere.

Now a Colorado State University assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, Rasmussen will finally get to stand under those very skies, putting her hypotheses to the test.

Rasmussen is a key contributor to a $30 million, National Science Foundation-funded field campaign, launching Nov. 1, aimed at discovering why thunderstorms in this particular region of Argentina are among the most extreme in the world. The scientists will help improve the knowledge and prediction of violent storms in this part of the world, as well as for severe weather in general.

“It’s very exciting,” Rasmussen said. “I have studied these storms for over 10 years, but never seen one in person. I’m thrilled to go down to the field with great colleagues and instruments, and sample some of the most extreme thunderstorms on Earth.”

Read the full Source story, “Atmospheric scientists to weather the stormiest place on Earth.”

Photo: Members of the CSU RELAMPAGO team. Back row: Nathan Kelly, Jeremiah Piersante, Erik Nielsen, Russ Schumacher, Zachary Bruick. Front row: Stacey Hitchcock, Kristen Rasmussen, Faith Groff.