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2020 Announcements

December 11, 2020

Department honors 2020 Outstanding Alums Bob Rauber and Julie Demuth

The department recognized 2020 Outstanding Alums Bob Rauber and Julie Demuth in a virtual ceremony Dec. 10.

“2020 has been for all of us a really challenging year, so it’s especially nice when we have opportunities like today to celebrate good things, like the accomplishments of our outstanding alumni, and we have two great examples today,” Department Head Jeff Collett kicked off the ceremony. “Sometimes universities give these awards to big donors. We really like to focus on the outstanding accomplishments in science, community-building and outreach of our alumni.”

Bob’s and Julie’s nominators shared reasons for their selection, before the Outstanding Alums each gave a brief presentation on their research and experiences at CSU.

Julie, a scientist at NCAR, was nominated by Andrea and Russ Schumacher, who both have worked on research with her. The Schumachers commented on the significance of Julie’s work. 

“As a field, as we continue to appreciate the importance of communicating our science and figuring out how people understand it, Julie’s work is really at the forefront of that area and continues to push things forward as far as not just doing good science, but making sure that it is relevant and useful,” Russ said.

Julie has mentored some of Russ’s students, and Andrea encouraged her to continue this relationship with the department.

Julie thanked Andrea and Russ, who she said “are two scientists and people I respect so incredibly much.”

“I really am speechless and stunned about this award,” she said.

Julie gave an overview of her work on hazardous weather risk communication and examples of her research. She also shared her fondest memories from CSU, including a summer retreat at Pingree Park and her adviser, University Distinguished Professor Tom Vonder Haar, encouraging students to “sit under a tree” and think about research.

Professor Larry Di Girolamo, a colleague of Bob’s at the University of Illinois, lauded Bob’s giving and helpful nature as his greatest accomplishment.

“Bob never reacts to a situation; he always acts. He acts by giving his time to solve problems, big or small, often ones he’s not even responsible for. I believe it’s this giving nature that is Bob’s greatest accomplishment that CSU should be most proud of in recognizing Bob for this alumni award,” Larry said.

Bob said he was humbled by the award. “It’s really an honor to represent the department at CSU. Truly one of the joys of my life was spending my time at Colorado State.”

Bob, a University of Illinois professor and director of its School of Earth, Society, and Environment, honored his adviser, the late Professor Emeritus Lew Grant, and his “spiritual adviser,” Professor Emeritus Bill Cotton. He talked about doing his master’s and Ph.D. work in Steamboat Springs and the record he holds as the first grad student at CSU to type his thesis on a word processor. His typing partner later became his wife.

“The thing I took from Colorado State University that is the true gem in my life is Ruta,” he said of his wife.

Bob characterized CSU as the roots of his career, leading to 21 field campaigns and 35 years of field research.

“The opportunities I’ve had go back to the opportunities I was given at Colorado State,” he said.

You can read more about Bob’s and Julie’s careers and thoughts they shared with the department here.

December 9, 2020

Paul DeMott maintains Web of Science highly cited researcher title

Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott was listed among Clarivate Web of Science’s Highly Cited Researchers, for the second year in a row.

Using Web of Science citation data, experts from the Institute for Scientific Information identify influential researchers who rank in the top 1 percent of citations for field and year. Out of nearly 8 million researchers in the world over the past decade, less than 1 percent qualify for the distinction by publishing multiple papers frequently cited by their peers.

DeMott was one of only three scientists from CSU to be named to the list this year. The others were William Parton and Matthew Wallenstein.

DeMott, a researcher in University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis’ research group, studies aerosol-cloud interactions, particularly ice phase transitions of atmospheric particles. His work is important to the fundamental issue of how aerosols affect climate indirectly by impacting the radiative properties of clouds, latent heating of the atmosphere and precipitation.

Kreidenweis called DeMott’s naming to the list “well-deserved recognition of [his] impact on our science.”

December 1, 2020

TMP researchers correctly predicted extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was extremely active. This heightened level of hurricane activity was relatively well anticipated by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project. The season broke the single-season Atlantic named storm record with 30 named storms and also featured 13 hurricanes and six major hurricanes – both the second most on record. Twelve named storms, of which six were at hurricane strength, made landfall in the continental United States with the strongest of these hurricanes being Category 4 Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in southwest Louisiana.

“The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was extremely active, especially when evaluated by named storm frequency and the number of tropical cyclones hitting the United States. Overall, our seasonal forecasts somewhat underestimated the number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes but were quite accurate for Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE),” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the forecast and a research scientist in the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science. Accumulated Cyclone Energy is an integrated metric accounting for intensity and duration of storms. Seasonal Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) was approximately 170 percent of the 1981-2010 average. The latter part of the season was extremely active, with four of the six major hurricanes that formed in 2020 occurring in October-November. No season on record prior to 2020 had more than two Atlantic major hurricane formations in October-November.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers correctly predicted extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.”

At top: CIRA satellite image of Hurricane Eta.

November 20, 2020

Kate O’Dell and Sean Freeman awarded Dietrich and Shrake-Culler scholarships

In a virtual ceremony Friday, Kate O’Dell received the David L. Dietrich Honorary Scholarship and Sean Freeman received the Shrake-Culler Scholarship.

O’Dell’s advisers, Professors Jeff Pierce and Emily Fischer, nominated her for the Dietrich Scholarship and announced her as the recipient.

“Kate’s just a wonderful person, who’s hard-working and easy to work with, who has made terrific contributions to air pollution research,” Pierce said.

“Kate’s work has enabled many other collaborators to estimate the impact of smoke on human health and most recently crime,” added Fischer.

O’Dell’s research has been overall to quantify people’s exposure to wildfire smoke as well as assessing how smoke concentrations have been changing in the U.S. over recent decades, understanding what hazardous air pollutants are in smoke and quantifying smoke health effects. She also volunteers as a mentor for undergraduates.

The Dietrich Scholarship recognizes a CSU student who has demonstrated outstanding ability in air quality research and education. Fort Collins-based Air Resource Specialists Inc. funds the Dietrich Scholarship each year. It is given in honor of retired ARS President David Dietrich.

Freeman was nominated by Professors Sue van den Heever, his adviser, and Sonia Kreidenweis for “his academic achievements, significant contributions to research activities both within ATS and the broader community, and his enthusiasm for graduate education, along with his incredible can-do attitude.”

Freeman focuses on the microphysical and dynamical processes of convective clouds in his research. Currently he’s looking into the role of various environmental factors, including thermodynamics, radiation and aerosols, on the life cycle of tropical convection.

“Those of you who know Sean know he has this remarkable suite of technical capabilities and skills, and he has put this to great use in a number of recent field campaigns,” van den Heever said.

Freeman oversaw all of the drone instrumentation, communication and data as well as the training of student pilots during the C3LOUD-Ex campaign. He also helped establish the CSU Drone Center. During the CAMP2Ex campaign, Freeman was one of only two students selected to be part of the flight planning team and served as the flight scientist on one of the 19 research flights.

The Shrake-Culler Scholarship is given annually to a senior Ph.D. student. The student must have passed their preliminary exam, have a GPA of 3.5 or above, and demonstrate a strong work ethic and enthusiasm for higher education.

O’Dell and Freeman each briefly presented their work, an added feature to this year’s ceremony. In the past, winners were not notified in advance.

November 19, 2020

COVID-19 update: Department office hours and staff contact information

The department office currently has reduced in-person staffing due to the pandemic. The office will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. All staff members will be available by email or phone during normal business hours.

Effective Nov. 30, all buildings except the chemistry building will be locked during the day, and you will need your key card to enter them. ATS West will be unlocked 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays but will be locked at all other times.

For general questions and building issues, please contact Hannah Gluckstern (, 491-8682).

For human resources questions, please contact Heather Packard (, 491-8356).

For student issues, please contact Graduate Adviser Sarah Tisdale (, 491-8360) or Associate Department Head Professor Eric Maloney (, 491-3368).

For travel and purchasing questions, please contact your travel and purchasing coordinator, Amanda Davey (, 491-8590) or Erin Carleton (, 491-8208).

For research proposals and projects, please contact your research project manager if you have questions or need assistance.

  • Shannon Irey:, 491-3396
  • Sharon King:, 491-8479
  • Jared Pelton:, 491-8758
  • Samantha Reynolds:, 491-8680

For website content updates or communications-related questions, please contact Jayme DeLoss (, 491-8904).

Department Head Jeff Collett (, 491-8697) and Operations Manager Darby Nabors (, 491-6960) also are available to answer questions.

November 11, 2020

Bob Rauber and Julie Demuth chosen as 2020 Outstanding Alums

Two exceptional alumni from the department will receive the Outstanding Alum Award this year, Bob Rauber and Julie Demuth.

Rauber earned his M.S. (1981) and Ph.D. (1985) from the department, studying with Professor Lew Grant. His dissertation was “Physical Structure of Northern Colorado River Basin Cloud Systems.”

Rauber joined the faculty of the atmospheric sciences department at the University of Illinois in 1987, where he has been an award-winning teacher. He served as department head from 2008-18 and led the development of the Illinois atmospheric sciences undergraduate degree program, now among the largest in the country. In 2018 Rauber was appointed director of the U of I School of Earth, Society, and Environment.

Rauber’s research spans many topics in physical meteorology, radar meteorology and mesoscale meteorology, and he has led many major field programs. His research includes cloud and mesoscale modeling and extensive work with conventional, dual-Doppler and airborne radars, radiometers, and other aircraft, ground-based and satellite instruments.

Rauber is a prolific author and has published highly successful textbooks on radar meteorology, severe and hazardous weather, and Earth science. He is well known for his dedicated service to the atmospheric science community, including nine years as chief editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and extensive service to AMS and UCAR. AMS recognized Rauber with the Charles Franklin Brooks Award for outstanding service to the society in 2019. He has been an AMS Fellow since 2006.

Demuth received her M.S. from the department in 2001 and was advised by University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Tom Vonder Haar. Her M.S. thesis was “Objectively Estimating Tropical Cyclone Intensity and Wind Structure Using the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit.” 

After leaving CSU, Demuth worked for the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate before beginning a successful career at NCAR. While at NCAR, Demuth completed a CSU Ph.D. in public communication and technology. Her dissertation was “Developing a Valid Scale of Past Tornado Experiences.”

Demuth has pioneered a new and important research area that addresses pressing questions about how atmospheric science intersects with society. Her research and publications have broken new ground at the intersection of atmospheric science and risk communication. 

Demuth’s work is highly cited, she is frequently invited to address high-profile conferences, and she has provided important feedback to the NWS concerning best practices and improved responses during major weather events.

Demuth co-founded the grassroots Weather and Society*Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) movement, dedicated to changing the weather enterprise by comprehensively and sustainably integrating social science into meteorological research and practice. Over the years, Demuth has been an outstanding mentor to many who have worked to integrate societal relevance into their research activities.

Rauber was nominated for the ATS Outstanding Alum award by Larry Di Girolamo, and Demuth was nominated by Andrea and Russ Schumacher.

A virtual celebration will be held 3 p.m. Dec. 10 to honor the winners and so they can share their work with the department.

Note from Bob Rauber:

I want to sincerely thank everyone in the Department of Atmospheric Science for considering me for this honor. The Department truly launched my career with opportunities I could get nowhere else.

I am particularly indebted to my advisor, Prof. Lewis O. Grant, for opening my eyes to the excitement of field research. Lew gave me responsibilities for both managing field campaigns and developing novel analysis approaches to field data that I carry through to this day. I was so sad to learn of his passing some years ago, but happy that I was able to honor him before his passing when the Department invited me back in 2016 to give a talk at the Department anniversary celebration. Lew was in the audience and had no idea that the title of my talk would be “Career lessons I learned from Lew.”

I am also deeply grateful for the advice and friendship of Prof. Bill Cotton. I ran so many miles with Bill around the foothills that I’m sure the tracks are still there from our footprints. Our discussions on these runs were instrumental to completing my degree, and in all future aspects of my career.

As my career as a professor at the University of Illinois developed, I have continually benefited from my experiences at CSU. Those who know me know that I love fieldwork — my experiences at the Department helped me lead or participate in 23 field campaigns after graduating. What a trip! I also have had the wonderful experience of guiding my own students through their degrees and helping launch their careers.

Would I do it all over again? You bet! I tell our undergraduates here at the University of Illinois who are considering graduate school that they should have CSU on their radar screen. They can’t go wrong if they choose to go to CSU, a department with a long history of excellence, and a great place to launch a career.

Note from Julie Demuth:

I’m incredibly humbled. It’s such a tremendous honor to be chosen for this distinguished award and to be among so many accomplished, talented past honorees.

This award is especially meaningful in that I can trace my interest in studying the intersection of the atmospheric and social sciences back to when I was pursuing my M.S. at CSU. For one of my classes, I read a research paper (by a scholar who is now a dear friend and collaborator) about public perception of hazardous weather and climate change. I was fascinated, and I came to realize the research represented a nascent field of study.

I’m intrigued by how the atmosphere works and by the predictability – and predictability limitations – of hazardous weather. I’m also intrigued by how people perceive and respond to the risks posed by hazardous weather and its intrinsic uncertainty. Tying together these research threads has been challenging but incredibly rewarding. There are so many important, interesting, and complex science questions and pressing societal needs that fall at the interface of atmospheric science and risk communication (in addition to other social science disciplines)!

I’m so grateful for all the friends and colleagues whom I’ve learned from along the way and with whom I have the joy of collaborating to investigate these complex problems. I’m thankful that there is support for this kind of convergence science in the meteorological community, including in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science. And, I’m especially appreciative of Andrea and Russ Schumacher for nominating me and of the selection committee for this honor.

Thank you kindly,

Photos at top: Bob Rauber with his grandsons, Max and Henry, and Julie Demuth.

November 10, 2020

Jeopardy! champion Russ Schumacher pays tribute to Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek has been a part of my life for literally as long as I can remember, and the heartbreaking news of his death has brought back a flood of memories.

I started watching Jeopardy! as a young kid, and couldn’t wait to get home from school each day to see that day’s answers and questions. I tried out for the show and got the call in 2003 (17 years ago!) while I was a graduate student here at CSU. I still remember being in the studio for the first time, and as another former contestant, Brandon Blackwell, put it, “Ask any contestant – we’ll tell you it wasn’t being under the lights, walking onto the set, or getting in front of the cameras. The moment being on Jeopardy! finally hits you is when you see Alex Trebek in the flesh for the first time. Truly larger than life.”

Jeopardy! went on to pay for an engagement ring, a wedding, and a down payment on a house over the next few years, but I figured that was the end of it. (In the meantime, I had finished my Ph.D., moved away, and then moved back to Fort Collins again to work at CSU.) Then the “Battle of the Decades” tournament came around in 2014, and I got to see Alex and the crew again. And more importantly, to share the experience with a whole new set of friends and family, including our (at the time, very young) son.

Read the full Source article, “Jeopardy! champion Russ Schumacher’s tribute to Alex Trebek.”

November 9, 2020

Steve Rutledge will present virtual seminar hosted by NASA JPL

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Climate Sciences will host an invited talk by Professor Steve Rutledge at noon (MST) Thursday, Nov. 19, as part of its Distinguished Climate Lecture series. Title, abstract and WebEx meeting info are below.

“Atmospheric Electricity, Lightning and Convection”

Benjamin Franklin is considered to be the father of modern-day studies of atmospheric electricity, starting with his famous sentry box experiment in 1749. This clever but risky experiment demonstrated that convective clouds are electrified, yet, even today, there is not a complete theory for how electrified clouds lead to lightning. In this talk I will first discuss the role of thunderstorms in maintaining the global circuit. Some have argued that long-term monitoring of the global circuit can yield information about climate change. Current theories for cloud electrification will then be summarized. Charge structures and lightning flash rates as measured by Very High Frequency (VHF) Lightning Mapping Arrays will be presented, leading to a discussion of how lightning is tied to cloud dynamical and microphysical processes. Finally, data from the new Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) will be discussed, in particular for so called “electrically inverted” storms. I will also touch on land-ocean lightning differences and the sensitivity of convection to increasing aerosol concentrations.

Meeting link
Meeting number (access code): 199 161 6708
Meeting password: CCSDISTINGUISHED

November 4, 2020

Colorado Climate Center helping the ski industry with better climate data

The ski slopes of the Rocky Mountain West are facing new challenges as a shifting climate brings shorter winters and more severe droughts.

Few people, of course, are more aware of this than those in charge of running these ski resorts. But new research by the Colorado State University-based Colorado Climate Center found that these same ski managers often lack the tools and information to integrate the latest and most local climate data into operations and in planning for a successful future.

The interdisciplinary center, which is housed in the Department of Atmospheric Science at the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, recently conducted in-depth interviews with 21 ski area managers and critical staff members from 11 Rocky Mountain ski resorts, including seven in Colorado, about their use of climate data.

Properly informed planning can help ensure the survival of this critical regional industry, which provides not only a popular pastime but also generates $4.8 billion and creates 46,000 jobs annually in Colorado alone.

Read the full Source article, “Helping the ski industry with better climate data.”

November 2, 2020

Ravishankara named Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy

Colorado State University Distinguished Professor A.R. Ravishankara, a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Atmospheric Science, has been named a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), effective January 1, 2021.

Established in 1935, the INSA promotes science in India, harnessing scientific knowledge for the cause of humanity and national welfare. The INSA is comprised of scientists from all branches of science and technology. Currently, there are a total of 930 fellows and 94 foreign fellows.

Through his recent research specific to India, Ravishankara has been able to identify the effect of pollution on the community’s health in India – where it comes from, how it is harming India, and how it can be reduced. He has brought these findings to the scientific community as well as to the public.

Read the full Source article, “Ravishankara named a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy.”

October 14, 2020

FORTCAST hosts ski patrol member, UNC professor at next virtual event

David Lerach, an associate professor of meteorology at the University of Northern Colorado and a member of the Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol, will discuss avalanche awareness and backcountry safety at FORTCAST’s next What’s Brewing in Weather and Science talk Tuesday, Oct. 20.

At UNC, Lerach uses the RAMS model to explore aerosol-cloud microphysical impacts on the evolution of deep convective systems. He also volunteers with the ski patrol to promote backcountry and avalanche safety.

The virtual talk will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Q-and-A session. FORTCAST will send out the meeting link closer to the event.

FORTCAST is a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Contact with questions.

October 12, 2020

Atmos scientists participate in aerosol study to revise climate models

Smoke from the many wildfires burning in the West have made air quality hazardous for millions of people in the United States. And it is the very tiniest of the aerosol particles in that air that make it particularly harmful to human health. But for decades, we haven’t known how long these particles actually stay aloft.

New research by Colorado State University scientists is giving us a much better understanding of this process, which can help not only in air quality forecasting, but also in global climate modeling.

Aerosol particles, whether from wildfire smoke or car exhaust, play a large role in how much heat is absorbed or deflected by the atmosphere. However, we haven’t entirely understood how quickly these tiny particles were pulled out of the air – especially in the absence of moisture. This has added substantial uncertainty to already-complex climate models.

Delphine Farmer, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry in the CSU College of Natural Sciences, knew it was time we could do better. Farmer and her colleagues, including Associate Professor Jeff Pierce, postdoctoral fellow Kelsey Bilsback and recent graduate Anna Hodshire, recently announced that they have been able to detect, in real-world environments – from forests to grasslands – the rate at which these important particles actually leave the atmosphere.

Read the full Source article, “Revising climate models with new CSU field data.”

Photo at top: Instrumentation inlets and the view from the top of the tower at the Manitou Experimental Forest Observatory near Woodland Park, Colorado. Photo by Delphine Farmer

September 30, 2020

Elizabeth Barnes receives AGU Turco Lectureship award for climate science

Though it has been only eight years since Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes earned her Ph.D., she already has significantly impacted her field and assembled a talented research group at the forefront of climate science. Recognizing her climate science research and advances, the atmospheric sciences section of the American Geophysical Union has awarded Barnes the Future Horizons in Climate Science: Turco Lectureship.

The Turco Lecture is intended to identify future areas of research for solving the problem of global warming and related issues. Barnes will present the lecture during the AGU Fall Meeting in December.

In nominating Barnes for the award, Tim Woollings, an Oxford associate professor in physical climate science, cited the quality and quantity of her work. Her research already has achieved high impact, he noted, with 19 of her 79 peer-reviewed papers receiving more than 50 citations each.

“She has advanced the field of atmospheric science in these few years more than many of us do in our whole careers,” Woollings wrote in his nomination letter. “Her work is trustworthy, authoritative and expertly targeted to make real, concrete advances in our understanding of the climate system.”

Read the full Source article, “Elizabeth Barnes receives AGU Turco Lectureship award for climate science.”

Emily Fischer named to Science News list of top 10 scientists to watch

Colorado State University atmospheric scientist Emily Fischer has been selected by Science News as one of 10 scientists to watch – a distinction that recognizes early- and mid-career scientists age 40 and under who are significantly contributing to their fields.

Fischer, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, was honored in part for her wildfire smoke research. She will be featured in the Oct. 10 issue of Science News and on its website.

“Fischer, an atmospheric chemist, pulled together a diverse team of 10 lead scientists, and scores more graduate students and postdocs, to pull off the most comprehensive analysis of wildfire smoke ever attempted, a project dubbed WE-CAN. She combines analytical chemistry with high-flying techniques to understand where air pollution comes from and how it changes as it moves through the air,” Science News wrote in its spotlight on Fischer.

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric scientist Emily Fischer named to Science News list of top 10 scientists to watch.”

Photo at top: WE-CAN scientists Frank Flocke, Emily Fischer and other collaborators aboard the NSF/NCAR C-130, loaded with instrumentation for studying wildfire smoke. Photo by Bill Cotton, Jr.

September 29, 2020

Faculty, NCAR partner on $5M NSF project to bolster Earth system modeling capabilities

Colorado State University Atmospheric Science Professors David Randall and James Hurrell will collaborate with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to create a high-resolution version of an Earth system model used by scientists around the world. The National Science Foundation will fund the nearly $5 million, five-year “EarthWorks” project led by CSU.

The project will extensively modify a recent version of the Community Earth System Model (CESM), which is an open-source model used by many researchers to improve our understanding of the complex interplay of atmospheric, oceanic, land surface and sea ice processes that comprise the Earth system.

Though extremely useful and powerful for many science applications, such as investigating the impacts of a changing climate, the current model has limitations, including an inability to explicitly simulate thunderstorms and other relatively small-scale phenomena at its current low spatial resolution. Instead, storms, cloud formation and other similar processes are parameterized, or represented statistically.

While some Earth system models have sufficient resolution to simulate thunderstorms – called global storm-resolving models – none of them are freely available to the research community. EarthWorks aims to bring this global storm-resolving capability to their version of the community model, so all researchers can utilize it.

“The fact that this is a community model that’s shared openly with everybody is unique and very valuable,” said Randall, EarthWorks’ principal investigator and a University Distinguished Professor. “Our intention is that everyone will be able to use what we’re building.”

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric science faculty partner with NCAR on $5M NSF project to bolster Earth system modeling capabilities.”

Image at top: This graphic shows a coarse version of the EarthWorks grid superimposed on an image of the Earth. The actual EarthWorks grid will be much finer than this, with grid spacing about 100 times smaller than what is shown here. Credit: William Skamarock/NCAR

September 25, 2020

Aaron Hill presents at National Weather Association annual meeting

Postdoctoral fellow Aaron Hill was one of three invited speakers for the National Weather Association’s virtual annual meeting in September. Hill discussed the future of machine learning in operational forecasting of high-impact weather, citing a recently published article on forecasting severe weather hazards.

Hill has conducted extensive research in predictability of convection and targeted observing during his graduate research at Texas Tech University, and has participated in numerous large-scale field campaigns including VORTEX-SE and TORUS. In his work with Associate Professor Russ Schumacher’s group, Hill is advancing machine learning techniques to probabilistically forecast convection hazards, including extreme rainfall, severe wind, hail and tornadoes.

Hill serves as an associate editor for the journal Monthly Weather Review and is program chair for the next American Meteorological Society Weather Analysis and Forecasting/Numerical Weather Prediction conferences.

September 24, 2020

Department welcomes new Assistant Professor Maria Rugenstein

Don’t ask Maria Rugenstein about the weather. The new assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science likely hasn’t checked the forecast, and she’s more concerned with how the climate will change in the coming decades to centuries.

“Whether or not it rains or snows today — so what, next week will be different,” Rugenstein said. “I care about decadal and basin-wide averages, even though I’m aware that nobody experiences this in their backyard.”

Rugenstein is interested in large-scale interactions of the atmosphere and ocean. How does the ocean influence the atmosphere, and how does it store and redistribute heat? Understanding these things will improve our ability to predict how the climate will change under certain conditions.

“The ocean can be a heat source or sink but also shapes sea surface temperatures, which modulate the atmospheric feedbacks,” Rugenstein said. “For example, how does the ocean influence clouds, and how do the clouds influence large-scale ocean circulation?”

Read the full Source article, “Department of Atmospheric Science welcomes climate scientist Maria Rugenstein.”

Photo at top: Maria Rugenstein and her husband, Jeremy, and daughter, Frida, recently went on their first hike since moving to the U.S. – in Wyoming, due to the wildfires in Colorado.

September 21, 2020

PROGRESS mentoring program receives $3.5M from NSF to build on success

The geosciences don’t look like they did several decades ago, and decades from now they’ll look different than today. Scientific advances along with a greater diversity of scientists have strengthened the field, and improving the latter will lead to more of the former. That’s the ultimate goal of a $3.5 million National Science Foundation project led by Colorado State University researchers Emily Fischer and Melissa Burt.

Through their work on PROGRESS, a program for PROmoting Geoscience Research, Education and Success, Fischer and Burt proved that mentoring is key to retaining undergraduate women in STEM fields. The mentoring program they created helped students by increasing their science identity and sense of belonging.

“Given that it works, we need to make a scalable version, so we can offer this kind of mentoring program to as many women as possible,” said Fischer, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science.

Their most recent study, published in Nature Communications Earth & Environment, identified three essential components for a successful mentoring program: inspiration through exposure to geoscience careers via women role models, inoculation through training on how to grow their mentor network and overcome obstacles, and an introduction to a local female geoscientist mentor.

Read the full Source article, “Expanding PROGRESS: CSU mentoring program receives $3.5M from NSF to build on success.”

Photo at top: STEM students complete a mentor map exercise during a PROGRESS workshop in 2019.

September 16, 2020

NOAA-NWS meteorologist Tanja Fransen to speak at virtual FORTCAST event

Wildfire smoke and community preparedness for extreme weather are relevant and timely topics. Tanja Fransen of NOAA-NWS Glasgow, Montana, will address these and other subjects at FORTCAST’s virtual What’s Brewing in Weather & Science talk Tuesday, Sept. 22.

With 26 years of experience working for the National Weather Service, Fransen is the meteorologist-in-charge at NOAA-NWS Glasgow. She helped start the NWS Mentoring Program and has served on the AMS Council. Her work has been recognized and awarded by members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Fransen will present “Weather Ready Nation and Wildfire Smoke Intrusions, AND Anything Else you Have on Your Mind” 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22, followed by a Q-and-A session. Meeting link to come.

FORTCAST is a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Contact with questions.

September 3, 2020

NOAA-funded project to better connect climate models with evaporation observations

How much water evaporates from the ocean surface is an important factor in climate projections. Evaporation rates in existing climate models do not match measurements taken at the ocean surface. A study led by CSU Department of Atmospheric Science researcher Charlotte DeMott, and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to bridge the gap between observations and models, improving the accuracy of climate projections.

The evaporation rates calculated by climate models might not be far off from the true rate, but slight differences in evaporation can impact clouds significantly. DeMott and collaborator Carol Anne Clayson, a scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will evaluate how small changes in the way we compute ocean surface evaporation in climate models affect our understanding of clouds – an important consideration in predicting climate.

Ocean surface evaporation varies based on wind, temperature and humidity of the air over the surface. Climate models use slightly different methods, or algorithms, to estimate evaporation according to these environmental factors. These algorithm differences result in different evaporation rates.

“Our project seeks to understand how these algorithm differences contribute to differences in cloud patterns among climate models and the uncertainties surrounding how clouds regulate the Earth’s temperature, both today and in the future,” said DeMott, principal investigator on the project.

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric scientist aims to better connect climate models with evaporation observations through NOAA-funded research.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

August 26, 2020

CSU climate researchers among partners in new $20M NSF AI center

As partners in a five-year, $20 million NSF-funded program led by the University of Oklahoma, CSU will work to greatly expand how AI is used in environmental research, with a critical focus on making sure that the answers we get are not only accurate and fast, but trustworthy.

Research Professor Imme Ebert-Uphoff, working in both the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and CIRA at CSU, is leading CSU’s delegation in the new NSF AI Institute for Research on Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate, and Coastal Oceanography announced Wednesday. Ebert-Uphoff is joined in the project by Atmospheric Science Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes, Professor Chuck Anderson of the Department of Computer Science, and other CSU researchers, focusing on AI algorithm development, environmental applications, and workplace education and advocacy.

Artificial intelligence is everywhere under the skin of our modern world – our cars have sensors that detect traffic patterns and avoid collisions. Our phones recognize our faces and automatically unlock. Modern retail relies on artificial intelligence for stocking and logistics – everything from medical supplies to the tomatoes in the grocery store are now governed by algorithms that recognize patterns and guide purchasing and shipping decisions. And opportunities to apply AI in research fields abound.

The importance of artificial intelligence is such that the National Science Foundation introduced for the first time a $100 million program to fund institutes to study and develop newer and better AI algorithms – by far and away, the most significant direct commitment to AI that the NSF has ever provided. Five such institutes were funded under the program, including the OU-led program that CSU has partnered with.

Read the full Source article, “CSU climate researchers tied to new $20 million NSF AI center.”

Photo at top: Imme Ebert-Uphoff of CIRA and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Atmospheric Science Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes

August 24, 2020

Gregory Schill and colleagues study fires to resolve ice question in climate models

When fossil fuel or biomass burns, soot – also known as black carbon – fills the air. Black carbon is an important short-term climate driver because it absorbs solar energy and can affect the formation and composition of clouds.

The extent of black carbon’s impact on clouds has been the subject of debate for 30 years. A study recently published by Colorado State University atmospheric scientists aims to settle the debate and improve climate models.

Previous studies done in the laboratory conflicted on whether black carbon was effective at ice nucleation, a process important to cloud formation. Soot particles, like other types of aerosol particles in the air, can act as the foundation for ice crystal growth. Lab results on soot ranged wildly from no ice nucleation activity to efficient ice formation.

“One reason these results could span such a range is that combustion processes that form black carbon are extremely complicated and differ depending on fuels burned, and on whether combustion is carefully controlled, as in a diesel engine, or uncontrolled, as in wildfires,” said Gregory Schill, first author on the study and a former NSF postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Atmospheric Science.

Read the full Source article, “CSU atmospheric scientists study fires to resolve ice question in climate models.”

Photo at top: Gregory Schill samples a prescribed burn in the CSU Mobile Laboratory at the Konza Prairie Biological Station in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Credit: Barb van Syke

August 17, 2020

Emily Fischer encounters Cameron Peak Fire while backpacking with family

As an atmospheric chemist who studies wildfire smoke, Associate Professor Emily Fischer knew better than most the danger heading her way when she saw a plume of smoke while backpacking with family Thursday.

“I immediately shouted to my husband, ‘We have to get out now.’ We just grabbed the kids’ hands and we ran out six miles,” Fischer said.

She and her family are safe. But Colorado’s air might not be.

Read more about her harrowing adventure, and why we should be wary of breathing the smoky air, in the Colorado Public Radio story, “When Wildfire Smoke Meets Coronavirus, It’s a ‘Real Public Health Issue’ for Colorado.”

Photo at top: Smoke billows from the Cameron Peak Fire north of Rocky Mountain National Park on Aug. 13, 2020. Photo by Emily Fischer and Peter Girard

August 14, 2020

NASA instrument continues Earth radiation data collection pioneered by Tom Vonder Haar

As a Ph.D. student in the 1960s, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Tom Vonder Haar obtained the first measurements of Earth’s radiation budget, the balance of incoming energy from the sun and outgoing energy from the Earth. In the 1980s, he led NASA’s Earth Radiation Budget Experiment that launched three satellites to begin continuously collecting data on Earth’s radiation budget. Now he is senior adviser on NASA’s latest project that will extend the 40-year continuous record and provide clues about our climate.

This new, nearly $130-million project called Libera not only will continue an important record of the solar radiation entering the atmosphere and the amount absorbed, reflected and emitted by Earth, it will improve the record’s accuracy and give us more details about this balance. We know from past observations that extreme events, such as major volcanic eruptions and El Niño, have disrupted this energy exchange. The more specific wavelength ranges gathered by Libera will help scientists better understand changes to Earth’s climate system, including whether the planet is getting brighter or darker, and heating up or cooling down.

“The instruments are much, much better now, in all respects,” said Vonder Haar. “They can measure things with much higher accuracy than we could back in those days.”

Read the full Source article, “New NASA instrument will continue Earth radiation data collection pioneered by CSU atmospheric scientist.”

Image at top: A graphic of what the Libera instrument might look like onboard NASA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-3. Credit: Martha Lageschulte, Ball Aerospace

August 13, 2020

Melissa Burt selected for IAspire Leadership Academy and National Academies committee

Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Melissa Burt has been chosen for two unrelated National Science Foundation-backed honors. On July 21, she was named an IAspire Leadership Academy Fellow. She also recently was appointed to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee that will provide guidance to the NSF.

Burt applied for the leadership academy, but the committee assignment took her by surprise. The study committee is tasked with advising the NSF on how to conduct Earth studies using an interdisciplinary approach.

“I’m honored to be a part of this exceptional committee, to really think through the process of how we can study the Earth in a more interdisciplinary way,” said Burt, who is also a scientist in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science.

In serving the committee, Burt will draw upon both her atmospheric science research background and experience in incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into institutional systems.

“From my perspective, it’s really thinking about diversity and inclusion in the workforce, and how does that fit in to the ways we study the Earth,” she said.

Read the full Source article, “Melissa Burt selected for IAspire Leadership Academy and National Academies committee.”

August 7, 2020

Four Atmos alumni receive AMS recognition

In addition to the prestigious honors earned by Professors Jim Hurrell, Sue van den Heever and Russ Schumacher, four graduates from the atmospheric science program – John Knaff, Walt Petersen, Eric A. Smith and Xubin Zeng – received recognition this year from the American Meteorological Society.

John Knaff, a CIRA colleague and NOAA scientist, was selected for an Editor’s Award “for providing multiple rigorous, timely, and constructive reviews across three AMS journals, and also for contributing consistently excellent reviews over a period of many years.”

Walt Petersen, deputy manager of the Science Research and Projects Division at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has been elected a fellow. Those considered for fellowship “have made outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years.”

Florida State University Professor Eric A. Smith was chosen for the Verner E. Suomi Technology Medal “for innovative technological achievements that fundamentally changed the use of satellite observations in meteorology and hydrometeorology.”

University of Arizona Professor Xubin Zeng, who also received the 2018 Outstanding Alum Award, was selected for the Charles Franklin Brooks Award for Outstanding Service to the Society. He is honored for “skillful and effective service in senior leadership roles that has materially improved the Society’s meetings and other activities.”

“In my 51 years with the department, I have never seen such an annual group of department awards from our professional society!” said University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Tom Vonder Haar, an AMS Honorary Member, Fellow and Charney Medal winner.

View the complete list of 2021 AMS award winners here.

August 6, 2020

Three professors earn prestigious American Meteorological Society honors

Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science is one of the top programs of its kind, a reputation established by its remarkable faculty, who lead the field in research and education. But don’t take our word for it, just ask their peers.

The American Meteorological Society will recognize three CSU professors this year with prestigious honors. Russ Schumacher will receive the Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award; Susan van den Heever will be inducted as a fellow; and James Hurrell will be the first recipient of the Warren Washington Research and Leadership Medal. Their nominations were led or co-led by atmospheric science colleagues from other universities.

First of its kind

Hurrell will receive the inaugural Warren Washington Research and Leadership Medal for his “highly influential climate system research, and a distinguished and impactful record of national and international leadership,” according to the AMS citation.

Fellowship and fundamental advances

van den Heever has been elected a fellow for her extensive record of contributions to atmospheric science. No more than two-tenths of one percent of all AMS members are considered for the honor any given year.

Early-career distinction

Schumacher, associate professor and Colorado State Climatologist, will receive the Meisinger Award for his innovative analyses of observations and model simulations that improve our understanding of flash floods and other weather phenomena.

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric science professors earn three American Meteorological Society honors.”

August 5, 2020

Tropical Meteorology Project predicts most named storms and hurricanes of any forecast

Colorado State University hurricane researchers have increased their forecast and now predict an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season in 2020, citing very warm sea surface temperatures and very low wind shear in the tropical Atlantic as primary factors. Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures averaged over the past month are at their fourth-highest levels since 1982, trailing only the very active Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2005, 2010 and 2017. Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures provide more fuel for tropical cyclone formation and intensification. They are also associated with a more unstable atmosphere as well as moister air, both of which favor organized thunderstorm activity that is necessary for hurricane development.

Vertical wind shear during July was also extremely weak across the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean. Strong vertical wind shear tears apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop and intensify, and vertical reduced wind shear aids in hurricane development. When vertical wind shear is low in July, it also tends to be low during the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season from August-October.

The tropical eastern and central Pacific currently has cool neutral ENSO conditions, that is, the water temperatures are slightly below average. CSU anticipates that we will either continue to have cool neutral ENSO conditions or potentially weak La Niña conditions for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form. Atlantic hurricane seasons tend to be much more active when the tropical Pacific has either cool neutral or La Niña conditions.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers now predicting extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.”

Image at top: Tropical Storm Isaias. Credit: NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES East satellite

July 31, 2020

Q&A with climate scientist and new postdoctoral fellow Zachary Labe

Zachary Labe is a climate scientist with a knack for presenting his work accessibly. He maintains an influential blog of data visualizations regarding trends in Arctic and Antarctic climate, and is often consulted in media coverage of extreme climate events in those regions.

Zack recently joined the Barnes group as a postdoctoral researcher in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science. Engineering Source caught up with him while he was still unpacking, for a chat about his work.

Q: You just completed your doctorate – congratulations! What factors led you to choose CSU as your next step?

It was Libby [Barnes]. She gave a presentation at a conference on Arctic/mid-latitude interactions, and seemed really enthusiastic about the science. I was interested in her new work on machine learning and climate change variability, and I wanted to expand my skill set. So I thought it’d be a good post-doc position to add another tool to my toolbox for analyzing climate change.

The work the Barnes group is doing is state-of-the-art – new science, new methods. It’s really important.

Read the full Source interview, “Five questions with Atmospheric Science climate scientist Zachary Labe.”

July 21, 2020

ARM names Jessie Creamean and Tom Hill aerosol mentors

The DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility has selected Jessie Creamean and Tom Hill as its designated experts to manage an expanded effort to collect and analyze samples of ice-nucleating particles.

Creamean and Hill are both experts on these rare particles that are important to cloud formation. The two research scientists have the specialized skills necessary to measure INPs. ARM’s decision was partly based on the pair’s efficient, precise and clean technique they have perfected over the past several years.

“Combined, we have a gamut of expertise with the DOE community and field deployments, INP sampling and measurements, including using tethered balloons, and sample processing using our ice spectrometer,” Creamean said in an ARM news feature. “Additionally, the measurement involves field collection, offline sample analysis, and data analysis, which is quite time-consuming. It made sense to have two of us.”

Read the full ARM article, “ARM Names Two New Aerosol Mentors.”

Photo at top: Tom Hill works in the lab at CSU. Photo by Kevin Barry

July 6, 2020

Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano awarded AGU Paros Scholarship

The American Geophysical Union has selected M.S. student Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano for the Paros Scholarship in Geophysical Instrumentation. Three students are chosen for this scholarship each year, to build a solid pool of talent working on geophysical instrumentation.

Juncosa Calahorrano, advised by Associate Professor Emily Fischer, proposed three laboratory experiments to minimize the uncertainties in ambient measurements of total reactive nitrogen oxides (NOy) by separating the gas and particle phases. NOy species play an essential role in the atmosphere, influencing human health, nitrogen deposition and climate.

“The engineer in me is very excited to go back to the lab to start building and testing this system!” Juncosa Calahorrano said. “I also look forward to working with Dr. Ilana Pollack and Dr. Emily Fischer on this project. They have been amazing mentors during my time at CSU. I want to thank both of them and Dr. Ravishankara for their guidance and support during the preparation of this proposal.”

June 29, 2020

Even when women outnumber men, gender bias persists among science undergrads

Increasing gender diversity has been a long-sought goal across many of the sciences, and interventions and programs to attract more women into fields like physics and math often happen at the undergraduate level.

But is representation enough to improve gender diversity in science? In a new study, Colorado State University researchers, including Brittany Bloodhart and Emily Fischer, say there’s more to the story: They’ve found that even when undergraduate women outnumber men in science courses, women may still be experiencing gender biases from their peers.

The CSU team, combining expertise in gender psychology, instructional intervention and physical sciences, conducted a survey-based study among both physical and life science undergraduate courses at CSU, asking students how they perceived each other’s abilities within those courses. Their results were published online June 25 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Read the full Source article, “Even when women outnumber men, gender bias persists among science undergrads.”

June 26, 2020

Scott Denning explains massive Saharan dust plume moving into southeast US

A hot desert wind is carrying a massive cloud of Saharan dust into the southern United States this week. Dust plumes from the Sahara routinely blow westward across the Atlantic at this time of year, but this event is a doozy – by some measures, the biggest in decades. And a second plume appears to be forming about a week behind the big one.

Across the southeastern U.S., from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas and potentially as far north as Indianapolis and Cincinnati, dust effects will likely be visible in the coming days. Trillions of dust grains will reflect sunlight in every direction, creating milky white skies. The dusty haze reflects some sunshine back to space, cooling the surface a bit where the plume is thickest.

Longer waves of red and orange light tend to penetrate the dusty haze, so sunrises and sunsets are likely to be especially beautiful. On the downside, where the plume mingles with showers or thunderstorms, downdrafts may carry desert dust to Earth’s surface. This will impair air quality and could trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. The more dust reaches an area, the more pronounced the effects will be.

Read The Conversation piece by Scott Denning, “A massive Saharan dust plume is moving into the southeast US, bringing technicolor sunsets and suppressing tropical storms,” in Source.

Photo at top: A vast plume of Saharan dust blankets Havana, Cuba, June 24, 2020. Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

June 24, 2020

Faculty eliminates GRE as admission requirement

Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science will no longer consider Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores for admission to the program. Faculty voted unanimously at their Friday meeting to remove the requirement based on their determination that the GRE is not an accurate measure of the skills needed to be a good scientist in the field.

“We anticipate this decision will lead to a higher number of strong applicants and a more diverse and representative applicant pool,” said Professor and Associate Department Head Eric Maloney, who led the effort to remove the requirement.

Prior to the vote, faculty reviewed information on which measures determine graduate school success, including resources from the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute. They found the GRE is not a good predictor of Ph.D. completion or student publication rate. The GRE, a standardized test used for graduate admissions since the 1950s, also has proven to be biased against women and people of color.

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric Science graduate program eliminates GRE as admission requirement.”

June 19, 2020

ATS researchers use bacteria from pristine air to help solve climate modeling mystery

The Southern Ocean is a vast band of open water that encircles the entire planet between Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere landmasses. It is the cloudiest place on Earth, and the amount of sunlight that reflects off or passes through those clouds plays a surprisingly important role in global climate. It affects weather patterns, ocean currents, Antarctic sea ice cover, sea surface temperature and even rainfall in the tropics.

But due to how remote the Southern Ocean is, there have been very few actual studies of the clouds there. Because of this lack of data, computer models that simulate present and future climates overpredict how much sunlight reaches the ocean surface compared to what satellites actually observe. The main reason for this inaccuracy is due to how the models simulate clouds, but nobody knew exactly why the clouds were off. For the models to run correctly, researchers needed to understand how the clouds were being formed.

To discover what is actually happening in clouds over the Southern Ocean, a small army of atmospheric scientists, including us, went to find out how and when clouds form in this remote part of the world. What we found was surprising – unlike the Northern Hemisphere oceans, the air we sampled over the Southern Ocean contained almost no particles from land. This means the clouds might be different from those above other oceans, and we can use this knowledge to help improve the climate models.

Read The Conversation article by Kathryn Moore, Jun Uetake and Tom Hill, “We caught bacteria from the most pristine air on earth to help solve a climate modeling mystery,” in Source.

Photo at top: Kathryn Moore, pictured here, used these sampling instruments to capture airborne bacteria and determine where the air, and the particles that start the clouds, came from.

June 16, 2020

What is a derecho? Russ Schumacher explains these rare but dangerous storm systems

Thunderstorms are common across North America, especially in warm weather months. About 10% of them become severe, meaning they produce hail 1 inch or greater in diameter, winds gusting in excess of 50 knots (57.5 miles per hour), or a tornado.

The U.S. recently has experienced two rarer events: organized lines of thunderstorms with widespread damaging winds, known as derechos.

Derechos occur mainly across the central and eastern U.S., where many locations are affected one to two times per year on average. They can produce significant damage to structures and sometimes cause “blowdowns” of millions of trees. Pennsylvania and New Jersey received the brunt of a derecho on June 3, 2020, that killed four people and left nearly a million without power across the mid-Atlantic region.

In the West, derechos are less common, but Colorado – where I serve as state climatologist and director of the Colorado Climate Center – experienced a rare and powerful derecho on June 6 that generated winds exceeding 100 miles per hour in some locations. Derechos have also been observed and analyzed in many other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and South America.

Read The Conversation piece by Russ Schumacher, “What is a derecho? An atmospheric scientist explains these rare but dangerous storm systems,” in Source.

Photo at top: Derechos occur fairly regularly over large parts of the U.S. each year, most commonly from April through August. Dennis Cain/NOAA

June 11, 2020

Alumnus Walt Petersen profiled in NASA’s The Marshall Star

By Will Bryan, ASRC Federal/Analytical Services

The lightning flash nearly blinded him and the crack of thunder was deafening. Yet that was all it took for Walt Petersen – now deputy manager of the Science Research and Projects Division at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center – to get hooked on weather.

Petersen’s passion for weather came from an experience he had as a high school senior. While at a drive-in movie theater, lightning struck the speaker post nearest a friend in the car’s passenger seat – briefly shocking his friend, who was holding the attached speaker.

“I remember the flash was so bright and the thunder was instantaneous,” Petersen said. “That really motivated me. I thought weather would be a kind of a cool thing to be involved in.”

Read the full The Marshall Star article, “Where Lightning Strikes, a Scientist is Born: Meet Walt Petersen.”

Photo at top: Walt Petersen, deputy manager of Marshall’s Science Research and Projects Division. Credit: NASA

June 8, 2020

Ting-Yu Cha awarded Taiwan Ministry of Education graduate fellowship

Ph.D. candidate Ting-Yu Cha, advised by Associate Professor Michael Bell, has received a two-year Government Scholarship to Study Abroad from the Taiwan Ministry of Education to study heavy rainfall in Taiwan.

Cha’s proposed project is “Examination of Dynamic and Thermodynamic processes of Heavy Precipitation over Taiwan with the upcoming PRECIP field campaign observations.” PRECIP, the Prediction of Rainfall Extremes Campaign in the Pacific, aims to improve understanding of the multi-scale processes important for generating extreme rainfall in the moisture-rich environment of Taiwan and the western North Pacific. 

“I hope the research can improve our understanding of the fundamental processes that produce heavy rainfall,” Cha said. “I look forward to participating in the PRECIP field campaign next year!”

June 5, 2020

Message of solidarity, commitment to equity from department leadership

Dear ATS and CIRA community,

Several months into being isolated in our homes due to the global pandemic, we are processing the devastating events happening across the country including the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others, and the resulting protests against the pattern of police violence against black people and people of color.

These events continue to highlight the fact that racism in our country is a long-standing systemic issue. The Department of Atmospheric Science and CIRA stand in solidarity with the black members of our community. Our departments’ success in research and outreach is very much a result of collaboration with diverse teams across the nation and world. While not all of us may have felt the direct result of systemic racism and discrimination, we see those who have and we stand with you. We are here for you.

AMS released a statement on racism and inequity with a call to action worth repeating: “We are all called to stand up when we see racial injustice and to understand our own implicit biases and how those impact our colleagues. Only in this way can we break down the structure of systemic racism and inequities and best serve society with our science.”

Now is the time to educate ourselves on racism and bias, take action on what we can do as individuals and as departments, and stand together to fight for equity.

ATS and CIRA are aware of the importance of action and have already taken several steps. Just this spring, ATS was one of 14 departments accepted into the AGU Bridge program. This program is focused on inclusive practices for recruiting, admitting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in STEM graduate programs. Through this partnership, the department hopes to produce better science by having a more diverse student body.

The formation of the ATS/CIRA Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been another important step. The committee is exploring means of conducting a survey by a third party on the experiences and perceptions of diversity and inclusivity within ATS and CIRA. This assessment will be used to identify and prioritize areas of need so that appropriate workshops, seminars and trainings can be offered to the ATS/CIRA community. The committee also has started putting together a diversity and inclusion resource library as well as organizing student international lunch hours. There is much more that can be done. If you have ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to members of the committee.

If you have not yet read AMS’s statement on racism and inequity, we strongly encourage you to do so. Please also read Dean McLean’s message, as it includes links to other resources, such as the CSU Office of the Vice President for Diversity’s note of solidarity.

Jeff and Chris

ATS/CIRA Diversity Committee Members:
Libby Barnes
Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano
Emily Fischer
Leah Grant
Alex Naegele
Dave Randall
Sagar Rathod
Matt Rogers
Sarah Tisdale

June 4, 2020

Tropical Meteorology Project team increases forecast, predicts very active season

Colorado State University hurricane researchers have increased their forecast slightly and now call for a very active Atlantic hurricane season in 2020, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. Sea surface temperatures averaged across portions of the tropical Atlantic are somewhat above normal, while the subtropical Atlantic is much warmer than average. This type of sea surface temperature configuration is also considered favorable for an active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

The tropical eastern and central Pacific currently has cool neutral ENSO conditions; that is, the water temperatures are slightly below average. CSU anticipates that these waters will continue to cool relative to their long-term averages over the next several months, potentially reaching weak La Niña conditions by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Consequently, they believe that El Niño is extremely unlikely this year. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.

The Caribbean and central tropical Atlantic are somewhat warmer than normal. Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures provide more fuel for tropical cyclone formation and intensification. They are also associated with a more unstable atmosphere as well as moister air, both of which favor organized thunderstorm activity that is necessary for hurricane development.

Read the full Source article, “Increasing forecast slightly, CSU researchers predict very active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.”

Image at top: Tropical Storm Cristobal making landfall in Mexico, June 3. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East

June 1, 2020

Kreidenweis group identifies cleanest air on Earth in first-of-its-kind study

Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis and her research group identified an atmospheric region unchanged by human-related activities in the first study to measure bioaerosol composition of the Southern Ocean south of 40 degrees south latitude. Kreidenweis’ group, based in the Department of Atmospheric Science, found the boundary layer air that feeds the lower clouds over the Southern Ocean to be pristine – free from particles, called aerosols, produced by anthropogenic activities or transported from distant lands. Their findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Weather and climate are complex processes connecting each part of the world to every other region, and with climate changing rapidly as a result of human activity, it’s difficult to find any area or process on Earth untouched by people. Kreidenweis and her team suspected the air directly over the remote Southern Ocean that encircles Antarctica would be least affected by humans and dust from continents. They set out to discover what was in the air and where it came from.

“We were able to use the bacteria in the air over the Southern Ocean as a diagnostic tool to infer key properties of the lower atmosphere,” said research scientist Thomas Hill, coauthor on the study. “For example, that the aerosols controlling the properties of SO clouds are strongly linked to ocean biological processes, and that Antarctica appears to be isolated from southward dispersal of microorganisms and nutrient deposition from southern continents. Overall, it suggests that the SO is one of very few places on Earth that has been minimally affected by anthropogenic activities.”

Read the full Source article, “CSU atmospheric scientists identify cleanest air on Earth in first-of-its-kind study.”

Photo at top: Aerosol filter samplers probe the air over the Southern Ocean on the Australian Marine National Facility’s R/V Investigator. Photo by Kathryn Moore.

May 26, 2020

Kyle Chudler and Michael Cheeseman attend AMS Summer Policy Colloquium

Kyle Chudler and Michael Cheeseman have been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation to attend the American Meteorological Society’s Summer Policy Colloquium. Normally held in Washington, D.C., the colloquium introduces participants to the policy process and covers timely weather and climate-related topics. Graduate students selected through a highly competitive process usually have the opportunity to meet policy makers and decision makers from Capitol Hill, federal agencies, academia, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

This year, the immersion workshop’s 20th, will be a little different, due to the global pandemic. Virtual sessions will run June 1-9, with a potential in-person meeting in late summer or early fall.

Chudler, a Ph.D. candidate with Professor Steven Rutledge, was drawn to the policy colloquium because he always has enjoyed leading science outreach. He looks forward to learning how effective communication of science can be used to shape government guidelines.

“As I start considering what I want to do with my career after CSU, I am excited to explore the new doors I expect to be opened through the experience gained and connections made at the colloquium,” Chudler said.

Cheeseman, a Ph.D. candidate with Associate Professor Jeff Pierce, has wanted to attend the policy colloquium since first hearing about it four years ago. He’s interested in a career that bridges the gap between the scientific community, policy makers and the public.

“I am excited to learn more about how science plays a role in Washington,” Cheeseman said.

Photos at top: Michael Cheeseman, left, and Kyle Chudler

May 15, 2020

Congratulations to our Spring and Summer 2020 graduates!

In lieu of a spring commencement ceremony, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department recognized its spring and summer graduates with an online presentation. You can view the recording here.

We asked our graduating students about their plans following graduation and the most important thing they learned at CSU. Here are their responses.

Evie Bangs

“I’m currently working as a chemist for the USDA Wildlife Services.”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU was how to balance multiple research projects while still having fun with the science!”

Jared Brewer

“I have begun my post-doctoral research fellowship at Harvard with Professor Daniel Jacob, albeit remotely.”

“I learned how to write well, how to make a great presentation, and how to create good code. I also learned a lot about cooking. It was a wonderful time!”

Sam Childs

“I am not yet sure where I will end up. At present, I am applying for faculty and postdoctoral positions, with the goal of becoming a professor.”

“The most important thing I learned while at CSU is the importance forming collaborations, both within and outside of my field. I believe the greatest scientific advancements happen when people with expertise across multiple disciplines come together to address pressing research questions.”

Erin Dougherty

“I am going to NCAR for the Advanced Study Program (ASP) postdoctoral fellowship.”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU is the importance of building community. Community with peers for support, community with scientists across a wide variety of disciplines to spur innovative research, and community with the public to engage a wider audience in science.”

Aryeh Drager

“To be determined!”

“In terms of the subject matter, the most important thing I’ve learned at CSU is that the atmosphere does not exist in isolation. Rather, it is influenced by all sorts of internal and external factors that are easy to overlook, such as soil moisture, aerosol particles, ocean temperatures, and even vegetation! More broadly, I have also learned that science is not the product of a lone genius working in isolation, but is instead a nonlinear process that is most successful when many diverse perspectives are able to contribute toward solving the problem at hand.”

Will Lassman

“I am now a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Lab.”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU is to look around for interesting opportunity, and aggressively pursue the ones that speak to you.”

Jakob Lindaas

“I am moving to Washington D.C. in August to start an American Geosciences Institute/American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Science Fellowship in the U.S. Congress.”

“The most important thing I learned here at CSU is how teams can collaborate to do really neat things! And the people I’ve met all across CSU and Fort Collins have been wonderful to collaborate with and learn from!”

Peter Marinescu

“I will be starting as a postdoctoral fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) in Fort Collins, working on satellite data assimilation in the HWRF model.”

“I have learned so many important things at CSU, like roads that look flat (like Laporte Avenue) can definitely have significant inclines and that snakes are very present here in Fort Collins (😉), but the most important things I have learned at CSU are the importance of thorough research and that collaboration in research is essential because no one knows everything.”

Jonathan Martinez

“I will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship in late July through the Advanced Study Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.”

“That your environment is integral to inspiring ideas.”

Kathryn Moore

“I will be staying at CSU to pursue my Ph.D.”

Yasutaka Murakami

“Continue staying at CSU and pursuing a Ph.D.”

“Always returning back to the basic principles.”

Minnie Park

“TBD. Stay tuned!”

“Good things take time. I have learned that the essential ingredients for a Ph.D. are patience and perseverance.”

Jeremiah Piersante

“After finishing up work at CSU over the summer, I’ll be moving back to New York to pursue a Ph.D. in atmospheric science at SUNY Albany, focusing on hurricanes. It was a very tough decision to make, and while I’m very excited for this new chapter, I’ll miss everyone here at CSU!”

“The most profound thing I’m taking away from CSU is confidence in using coding software to analyze and plot data. This wouldn’t have been possible without examples given to me by my advisors and professors. I am happy to have this skill for the rest of my career.”

Louis Rivoire

“I will move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to attend Harvard University starting in July and study the age of air and circulation of the stratosphere.”

“That going down ‘rabbit holes’ always proves useful down the line.”

Bryn Ronalds

“I will be taking the Insight Data Science Fellows program this summer, which helps recent Ph.D. graduates transition from academia into industry in the field of data science.”

“My time at CSU taught me to believe in myself and my capabilities.”

Photo collage: From left to right, top to bottom row, Evie Bangs, Jared Brewer, Sam Childs (and his wife Swae), Erin Dougherty, Aryeh Drager, Will Lassman, Jakob Lindaas, Peter Marinescu, Jon Martinez, Kathryn Moore, Yasutaka Murakami, Minnie Park, Jeremiah Piersante, Louis Rivoire and Bryn Ronalds.

Congratulations to all of our graduates from this academic year!

Fall 2019 Graduates

Kevin Barry M.S. Advisers: Sonia Kreidenweis/Paul DeMott
Ryan Gonzalez M.S. Adviser: Chris Kummerow
Faith Groff M.S. Adviser: Russ Schumacher
Kirsten Mayer M.S. Adviser: Elizabeth Barnes
Joe Messina M.S. Adviser: Steve Rutledge

Spring 2020 Graduates

Sam Atwood Ph.D. Adviser: Sonia Kreidenweis
Evie Bangs M.S. Adviser: Jeff Collett
Jared Brewer Ph.D. Advisers: Emily Fischer/A.R. Ravishankara
Aryeh Drager Ph.D. Adviser: Sue van den Heever
Anna Hodshire Ph.D. Advisers: Jeff Pierce/Shantanu Jathar
Will Lassman Ph.D. Advisers: Jeff Pierce/Jeff Collett
Peter Marinescu Ph.D. Advisers: Sue van den Heever/Sonia Kreidenweis
Kathryn Moore M.S. Advisers: Sonia Kreidenweis/Paul DeMott
Yasutaka Murakami M.S. Advisers: Chris Kummerow/Sue van den Heever
Louis Rivoire Ph.D. Advisers: Thomas Birner/John Knaff
Bryn Ronalds Ph.D. Adviser: Elizabeth Barnes

Summer 2020 Graduates

Sam Childs Ph.D. Adviser: Russ Schumacher
Erin Dougherty Ph.D. Adviser: Kristen Rasmussen
Jakob Lindaas Ph.D. Adviser: Emily Fischer
Jonathan Martinez Ph.D. Adviser: Michael Bell
Jungmin (Minnie) Park Ph.D. Adviser: Sue van den Heever
Jeremiah Piersante M.S. Advisers: Kristen Rasmussen/Russ Schumacher
May 13, 2020

Four Atmos members named SoGES Sustainability Leadership Fellows

CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability has selected two Atmospheric Science students and two Atmospheric Science postdoctoral fellows to be Sustainability Leadership Fellows for the next academic year – the most fellows chosen from a single department. Ph.D. candidate Ali Akherati, advised by Jeff Pierce and Shantanu Jathar (Mechanical Engineering); Ph.D. candidate Michael Cheeseman, advised by Jeff Pierce; postdoctoral fellow Zachary Labe, mentored by Elizabeth Barnes; and postdoctoral fellow Zane Martin, mentored by Eric Maloney and Elizabeth Barnes were among 20 early-career scientists chosen for the program.

The Sustainability Leadership Fellows program prepares future innovators and thought leaders with science communication and career development training. They learn to effectively communicate science to the media and public, and how to build successful careers that incorporate meaningful engagement and an interdisciplinary approach to research.

Read the SoGES announcement in Source. Learn more about the Sustainability Leadership Fellows.

Photos: From left to right, Ali Akherati, Michael Cheeseman, Zachary Labe and Zane Martin.

May 12, 2020

Atmos leads contributors in CSU’s climbing Earth and environmental sciences ranking

The Nature Index, a measure of institutional research performance, ranks Colorado State University as a “Rising Star” in Earth and environmental sciences. CSU is the only U.S. university in the top 25, and the 11th fastest riser in the Earth and environmental sciences category. Rising Stars are institutions that had the strongest growth in output since 2015, based on the institution’s share of articles published in 82 prestigious scientific journals selected by an independent panel of experts.

CSU ranks 31st on the list of top institutions from around the world in Earth and environmental sciences, just behind Harvard. Researchers in CSU’s Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, Warner College of Natural Resources, and College of Natural Sciences long have been leaders in Earth and environmental sciences and produced the majority of scholarly articles factored in the index.

“The Nature Index reflects the efforts of the Department of Atmospheric Science, multiple teams in the Warner College of Natural Resources, and numerous other Earth and environmental science research efforts across the university,” said CSU Provost Rick Miranda. “I am incredibly proud of the faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students who contributed to CSU’s ranking in this index.”

The top contributors to CSU’s Earth and environmental sciences ranking are the Department of Atmospheric Science (16.9 shares, or fractional authorship contributions to indexed papers), Department of Geosciences (3), the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (2.8), Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (2.3), Department of Chemistry (1.5), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (1.4), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (1.2), Department of Statistics (0.7), Department of Mechanical Engineering (0.7), and the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (0.6).

Read the full Source article, “Nature Index recognizes CSU as ‘Rising Star’ in Earth and environmental sciences.”

Graph at top: Earth and environmental sciences Nature Index share by CSU units.

May 8, 2020

Ben Toms and Andrea Jenney receive department honors for student research

Ben Toms and Andrea Jenney were honored in a virtual ceremony today for outstanding student research. Toms, nominated by his advisers Elizabeth Barnes and Imme Ebert-Uphoff, received the Riehl Memorial Award for his paper, “Physically Interpretable Neural Networks for the Geosciences,” based on his machine learning research. Jenney, advised by Professors Dave Randall and Barnes, received the Alumni Award for two published papers describing her observational study of the teleconnections through which the Madden-Julian Oscillation influences North American weather.

“Ben’s paper is truly revolutionary for how geoscientists think about and utilize machine learning (specifically neural networks) for scientific discovery,” Barnes and Ebert-Uphoff wrote in their nomination.

Toms was invited to present his work at AGU and AMS conferences, resulting in two AMS oral presentation awards this year.

“Although the paper [Ben] was nominated for was written at the very start of his Ph.D., it is the type of big thinking you often see at the end of a Ph.D. or during a postdoc,” Barnes said during the ceremony.

Jenney first came to CSU as a CMMAP intern in 2014. After enrolling in August 2015, she defended her M.S. in June of 2017 — much faster than most M.S. students, Randall noted.

Jenney’s work published in the Journal of Geophysical Research was featured in the second most viewed Eos Editor’s Highlight of all time. The same paper was in the top 10 percent of most downloaded papers over a two-year period following its publication.

Jenney recently received a prestigious NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Professor Mike Pritchard at the University of California, Irvine, on a project she proposed.

“She is an exceptionally talented early-career scientist with a brilliant future,” Randall said in his nomination.

Herbert Riehl, Jr. attended the award ceremony remotely. The Herbert Riehl Memorial Award honors his father, who founded the department.

Toms and Jenney each gave a brief technical presentation on their research following announcement of their awards. View the award ceremony and presentations here.

May 7, 2020

Michael DeCaria receives PRSE summer fellowship

M.S. student Michael DeCaria has been selected to receive a Programs of Research and Scholarly Excellence summer fellowship. The award is made possible by the department’s designation as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence, for setting a standard of excellence in research, teaching and service.

DeCaria is excited to use his fellowship to apply the causal framework he and his adviser, Professor Peter Jan van Leeuwen, have been developing with colleagues at the University of Reading. They will use it on observation and model data to try to draw conclusions about the drivers of rapid intensification in tropical cyclones.

“We believe our framework will give us a fresh look at the problem, since we explicitly incorporate nonlinear interactions between drivers, something which is unique to our approach,” DeCaria said.

DeCaria and van Leeuwen are working with Associate Professor Christine Chiu and graduate student Matthew Lang on the framework’s first real-world application, while continuing to refine it. This summer’s study will be the first real-world application of their framework in its finished state.

May 6, 2020

Jakob Lindaas named 2020-21 AGI Fisher Congressional Fellow

The American Geosciences Institute has chosen Ph.D. candidate Jakob Lindaas as a William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellow. Fisher Fellows spend a year in Washington, D.C., working as a staff member in the office of a member of Congress or with a congressional committee.

Lindaas, who studies atmospheric chemistry and air quality with Associate Professor Emily Fischer, is passionate about supporting geoscientists’ engagement in public policy decisions.

“Finding equitable and efficient solutions to many of our most pressing problems, whether it’s a global pandemic or climate change, not only relies on including rigorous science but benefits from having scientists from many different fields at the decision-making table,” Lindaas said in an AGI news release. “I am looking forward to learning more about how and when geoscientists in particular can be involved in federal policy during this next year as a Fisher Congressional Fellow.”

Photo at top: Jakob Lindaas was an American Meteorological Society Observing Delegate in November 2017 at the UN COP23 international climate negotiations.

May 4, 2020

CoCoRaHS wins CSU Distinguished Community Engagement Scholarship Award

In addition to reaching a significant milestone this spring, CoCoRaHS – the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network – celebrated another honor. The organization was selected to receive the 2019-20 CSU Distinguished Community Engagement Scholarship Award. The award, jointly established by the Office of the Provost & Executive Vice President and the Office of Engagement, recognizes a community-university partnership with a long-term record of sustained impact, achievement and scholarship.

Nearly 30 partners from across the country and Canada signed a letter supporting CoCoRaHS’ nomination. The National Weather Service submitted a second letter of support.

Read about all of CSU’s Celebrate! award winners here.

April 21, 2020

CoCoRaHS hits major milestone: 50 million daily precipitation reports

A citizen science movement based at Colorado State University hit a major milestone Sunday. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, known as CoCoRaHS, collected its 50 millionth daily precipitation report, a record 22 years and more than 48,000 volunteers in the making.

Kelby Ouchley, a retired wildlife biologist from Union Parish, Louisiana, logged the 50 millionth report. Ouchley has measured more than 700 inches of rainfall since he became a CoCoRaHS volunteer in 2009.

“I’ve always been a science data type of guy,” Ouchley said. “CoCoRaHS has an easy-to-use platform that allows me to store information with minimum effort. I also like the idea that my data are accessible for anyone to use.”

Read the full Source article, “CoCoRaHS weather monitoring volunteers collect 50 million daily precipitation reports.”

Photo at top: CoCoRaHS observer Kelby Ouchley from Union Parish, Louisiana, recorded the program’s 50 millionth daily precipitation report with the rain gauge pictured here.

April 20, 2020

Sam Childs awarded 2nd place for AMS symposium presentation

Ph.D. candidate Sam Childs, advised by Associate Professor Russ Schumacher, received second place for his presentation at the AMS Societal Applications Symposium, held during the annual meeting in Boston in January. Childs’ presentation, “An agricultural perspective on severe hail,” conveyed results from his interviews of eastern Colorado farmers and ranchers. The study measured their perceptions of vulnerability and exposure to hailstorms and the perceived efficacy of warning messages for severe hail.

April 17, 2020

Celebrating William Cotton’s 45 years at CSU

William Cotton began his long, impressive career at Colorado State University in 1974 as an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science. Over the course of 45 years, Cotton supervised and mentored 44 Ph.Ds., as well as M.S. students.  

When Cotton first started at CSU, the campus was smaller and quieter, although not as quiet as today with all teaching and learning happening online. With the Atmospheric Science Department settled on the Foothills Campus to the west of the main campus, faculty and researchers formed a pretty close-knit family within the department. Over time, it has grown into a stronger department, according to Cotton. 

“Throughout my time at CSU, the department has been a vibrant professional environment, attracting leading professors and having the pick of the top graduate student applicants,” Cotton wrote in his 2019 memoir, The Setting Sun: A Life’s Adventure. 

Read the full CSU Life article, “William Cotton: Celebrating 45 Years at CSU.”

April 13, 2020

MIT invites Sue van den Heever to be Houghton Lecturer

Professor Sue van den Heever has accepted an invitation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to be a scientist-in-residence in Fall 2021 as part of its Houghton Lectures. Houghton Lecturers share their expertise with MIT’s atmospheres, oceans and climate program, often presenting a short course to faculty and students.

“It is a great honor and a humbling experience to be included amongst the likes of previous winners of this award,” van den Heever said. “I am really looking forward to this opportunity of an extended stay at MIT, which will give me the chance to work with several great colleagues and friends.”

van den Heever plans to speak about the dynamics of deep convective storms including updrafts and cold pool dynamics, the representation of microphysical processes within numerical models, and aerosol-cloud interactions within convective storms.

The lectures are named for Henry Houghton, who served as head of MIT’s meteorology department for 25 years. Distinguished scientists from around the world, including CSU alumnus Bjorn Stevens, presented past lectures.

“Houghton himself did a lot of pioneering work on precipitation mechanisms and the ways in which precipitation processes may be modified by the presence of particles in the atmosphere,” van den Heever said. “Understanding the impacts of atmospheric aerosols on convective cloud processes is one of the primary foci of my research, and this research link makes winning this award all the more special.”

April 9, 2020

Justin Whitaker named 2020 Spring Volunteer by Graduate Student Council

When Justin Whitaker is not studying or conducting research in atmospheric science at CSU, the Ph.D. candidate often is supporting athletes with special needs as a volunteer with Fort Collins Adaptive Recreation Opportunities. Over the past four years, Whitaker has dedicated several hours a week to Fort Collins ARO, which is run by the City of Fort Collins and affiliated with Special Olympics Colorado.

“I have a younger brother with autism, and Fort Collins ARO allows me to merge my love of sports with my passion to give back to people like him,” Whitaker said.

In recognition of his contributions to graduate students and Unified Sports, CSU’s Graduate Student Council selected Whitaker as the 2020 Spring Volunteer of the Month, an honor bestowed once a semester. He was nominated by two fellow students.

Read the full Source article, “GSC 2020 Spring Volunteer Justin Whitaker combines passions for sports, helping others through ARO program.”

Photo at top: Justin Whitaker, standing at right in solid red, participates in a 2019 ARO basketball game, along with atmospheric science students Rick Schulte, Emily Bell and Sean Freeman.

April 6, 2020

Erin Dougherty receives NCAR postdoctoral fellowship

Following her graduation this summer, Erin Dougherty looks forward to diversifying her skill set and engaging in interdisciplinary research through an Advanced Study Program postdoctoral fellowship from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Dougherty, who is advised by Assistant Professor Kristen Rasmussen, will investigate changes to the hydrologic cycle over the U.S. in a future climate, mainly through the lens of flood-producing storms. She hopes to better understand the atmospheric-hydrologic connection in these storms and how this translates to future flood risk in susceptible communities. Beginning in August, her research will be based at NCAR’s Research Applications Lab.

“I am really humbled to receive such an amazing opportunity to work with the top scientists in the field and to have the freedom to drive my own research forward,” Dougherty said. “Ultimately, I believe ASP will help me become the independent scientist I aspire to be.

April 3, 2020

Kate O’Dell awarded Air and Waste Management Association scholarship

Kate O’Dell, advised by Associate Professors Emily Fischer and Jeff Pierce, has been selected to receive a scholarship from the Rocky Mountain States Section of the Air and Waste Management Association.

“I’m very interested in the work the Air and Waste Management Association does at the intersection of atmospheric science and policy,” said O’Dell, who participated in the American Meteorological Society’s Summer Policy Colloquium in Washington, D.C., last June. The funding will support her air quality studies.

April 2, 2020

Tropical Meteorology Project researchers predict active Atlantic hurricane season

Colorado State University hurricane researchers are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2020, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. Tropical and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently warmer than their long-term average values and are consequently also considered a factor favoring an active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

The tropical Pacific currently has warm neutral ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) conditions; that is, the waters are slightly warmer than normal in the eastern and central tropical Pacific. CSU currently anticipates that these waters are likely to cool relative to their long-term averages over the next several months. Consequently, they do not anticipate El Niño for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.

The tropical Atlantic is somewhat warmer than normal right now. Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic provide more fuel for tropical cyclone formation and intensification. They are also associated with a more unstable atmosphere as well as moister air, both of which favor organized thunderstorm activity that is necessary for hurricane development.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers predicting active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.”

Image at top: The track of Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northwestern Bahamas last year. Credit: National Weather Service 

March 31, 2020

Cut short by coronavirus fears, Semester at Sea program a study in resilience

The 557 students and 32 faculty members who set sail Jan. 4 on the CSU Semester at Sea program were filled with expectations for an adventure across 11 countries. When the program ended abruptly March 14 due to the global pandemic, they disembarked with some unexpected lessons learned, meaningful bonds, and a unique perspective on the crisis overtaking the world.

“We learned to be flexible in the face of repeated setbacks and to make the most of constantly changing circumstances far beyond our control,” said Atmospheric Science Professor Scott Denning, who taught oceanography and global studies as part of the program. “We were bound together into a deeply connected community by our shared experience of loss and learning and resilience.”

After leaving Japan Jan. 28, the ship skipped its scheduled stop in China because of the coronavirus outbreak and resulting travel lockdown. Instead, it sailed straight to Vietnam for an extended stay, from Feb. 4-16. Before departing Vietnam, participants completed the first of several health screenings, including a detailed questionnaire, face-to-face evaluation by physicians, and temperature check. The ship then rerouted again to avoid stops in Malaysia and India, for fear a later outbreak in either location would make them a “pariah ship,” denying them port elsewhere. They docked in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, for fuel and supplies, but no one was allowed off the ship.

Read the full Source article, “Cut short by coronavirus fears, Semester at Sea program a study in resilience.”

Photo at top: Semester at Sea students left their marks on the world, in the form of an inflatable globe held by Professor Scott Denning.

March 24, 2020

Jon Martinez receives NCAR postdoctoral fellowship

After defending his Ph.D. in May, Jon Martinez will continue his tropical cyclone research thanks to an Advanced Study Program postdoctoral fellowship from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“This is a very selective program, and this honor is a testament to all of Jon’s hard work during his Ph.D.,” said Associate Professor Michael Bell, Martinez’s adviser.

Martinez will investigate how tropical cyclone frequency might change in Earth’s warming climate system by analyzing variability in the processes that contribute to tropical cyclone formation. Beginning in mid-August, his research project will be based at the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory, but he plans to collaborate with scientists from other NCAR labs as well.

“I’m sincerely honored to be selected as an ASP postdoctoral fellow and look forward to collaborating with NCAR scientists in bridging weather extremes and climate change research,” Martinez said.

Martinez hopes his research ultimately will inform risk projections of landfalling tropical cyclones among increasingly vulnerable coastal communities. 

Photo at top: Jon Martinez on Hallett Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Mike Casas

March 19, 2020

AGU webinar series features talk by Professor Sue van den Heever on March 24

Professor Sue van den Heever will present a talk March 24 as part of the American Geophysical Union’s webinar series, “From the Past Into the Future.” The live webinars, hosted by AGU’s Atmospheric Sciences section, are held Tuesdays at 10 a.m. through April 21.

The series content stems from the AGU centennial meeting, where invited speakers shared transformative discoveries in atmospheric science, along with grand challenges. Topics included ozone depletion and recovery, weather and climate prediction, detection and attribution of climate change, and extreme events, among others.

You are invited to view those lectures online as the speakers present them a second time. Registration is simple and only requires your name and email address, so AGU can send you connection information. Each webinar features two speakers and lasts approximately one hour.

For more information and to register, please visit the AGU Atmospheric Sciences webinar series page. Recordings of the talks also can be viewed from this page following the webinar.

Read the abstract for van den Heever’s talk, “Past Achievements and Future Challenges in Understanding, Observing and Modeling Cloud Processes,” here.

March 17, 2020

Andrea Jenney awarded NOAA postdoctoral fellowship

Andrea Jenney has been accepted into a notable federal program founded to train the next generation of climate researchers. After graduating with her Ph.D. this summer, Jenney will move on to the University of California, Irvine, where she will work with Associate Professor Mike Pritchard on a project she proposed for her NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship.

“I’m thrilled to have, for the first time ever, successfully obtained funding to work on a project that I designed myself,” said Jenney, who is co-advised by Professors David Randall and Elizabeth Barnes. “I’m also looking forward to working with awesome new mentors and collaborators and learning new science, tools and skills.”

Jenney and Pritchard will explore the role of small-scale features in the atmospheric temperature profile of convection using high-resolution simulations, in order to improve our understanding of the processes that create clouds and rain in our atmosphere. NOAA recognizes that understanding the connections between weather and climate is key to comprehending the effects of climate change. Jenney’s project will fit their weather results into the broader context of climate, with the ultimate goal of advancing weather and climate simulations.

Over the past 30 years, NOAA’s Climate and Global Change program has supported 230 fellows, who are hosted with mentoring scientists at universities and research institutions across the U.S.

March 12, 2020

William Cotton selected for elite honor by cloud physics organization

Emeritus Professor William Cotton has been chosen for an honor given to only one member of the cloud physics community every four years. He has been elected as an Honorary Member of the International Commission on Clouds and Precipitation, an organization based in the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences.

Every four years, the commission organizes the International Conference on Clouds and Precipitation, a top forum for atmospheric scientists to share their research on clouds and precipitation. Cotton has attended the conference since the early 1970s. This year he will speak at the event to be held in August in Pune, India.

Cotton joined CSU’s atmospheric science faculty in 1974. He has received numerous honors from the college and university over the years, including the Engineering Dean’s Council Award for excellence in atmospheric research, the Abell Faculty Research Graduate Program Support Award, the Research Foundation Researcher of the Year Award, and the Jack Cermak Distinguished Advisor Award. His Ph.D. alma mater, Penn State University, gave him the Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Award, and the Weather Modification Association presented him with the Schaefer Award for scientific and technological discoveries that constituted a major contribution to the advancement of weather modification.

Cotton is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA). He has published more than 190 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored nine book chapters, one book, and a memoir, and co-authored two additional books. He considers the most significant achievement of his career to be advising students, including 44 Ph.D.s, 44 M.S. students and 12 postdocs.

February 24, 2020

Kevin Barry wins VPR fellowship in 3-minute presentation challenge

Kevin Barry, advised by University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis and Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott, was among 31 CSU graduate students to compete in the Vice President for Research Graduate Fellowship Three Minute Challenge on Feb. 10. The competitors, who were chosen as top communicators in the Graduate Student Showcase in November, had to explain their research clearly and concisely, with the use of only one static PowerPoint slide, in three minutes or less. Barry was selected by the panel of judges to receive a VPR fellowship, along with 15 other presenters.

Barry presented on his research regarding the potential of ice-nucleating particles from wildfires in the western U.S.

“It was challenging but important to condense my whole research (background, methods, results) to under three minutes for a general audience,” Barry said. “It allowed me to focus on the significance and think about my research from a broader prospective.”

The presenters represented seven colleges and 18 disciplines, including animal science, atmospheric science, chemistry, communication studies, food science and human nutrition, physics and microbiology. Fellows are eligible for up to $4,000 in scholarship and travel support, as well as opportunities for professional development through workshops, mentorship, and leadership and engagement opportunities over the 2020-21 academic year.

“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the diverse set of research in the event, although the timer was nerve-racking!” Barry said.

You can watch Barry’s presentation, “Can Wildfires Influence Ice in Clouds,” here.

February 20, 2020

Jim Hurrell moderates panel in conjunction with NCAR exhibit on climate change

“Real People, Real Climate, Real Changes” – a traveling exhibit launched by the National Center for Atmospheric Research or NCAR – is on display at the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering this spring.

The interactive exhibit will be open to the public in the Scott Bioengineering Building atrium through March 12. The college and NCAR will also host a panel March 3 featuring some of the top climate scientists in the field. Registration is required for the event.

The exhibit builds on NCAR’s popular onsite climate exhibit, which draws more than 100,000 visitors a year to the research center’s Mesa Laboratory in Boulder. “Real People, Real Climate, Real Changes” was developed by NCAR and the UCAR Center for Science Education to help share the science of climate change and how it impacts people’s lives. This exhibition was made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.

Read the full Source article, “Interactive NCAR exhibit on climate change in Scott Bioengineering through March 12.”

Photo at top: Student ambassadors in the Scott Bioengineering Building explore the NCAR climate exhibit in February 2020.

February 19, 2020

NCAR education and outreach specialist to speak at FORTCAST event

Lorena Medina Luna will share her outreach work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and discuss nontraditional Earth science careers at FORTCAST’s What’s Brewing in Weather & Climate talk Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Medina Luna is an education and outreach specialist at NCAR. She organizes the NCAR Explorer Series, which features NCAR scientists in quarterly lectures and highlights field campaigns in short videos. She also has led the scientific communication workshop for the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program.

Prior to her work with NCAR, Medina Luna was a bilingual educator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, leading classes for K-12 school groups in topics ranging from biological to space sciences. Medina Luna received her Ph.D. in geology from the University of Michigan, where she investigated earthquake-generating stresses, following her M.S. in geology from California State University and her B.S. in earth and environmental science from UC Irvine.

Discussion followed by Q-and-A will begin 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, upstairs at Tap & Handle. CSU students, bring your ID for $2 off drafts.

FORTCAST is a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Contact with questions.

February 18, 2020

March Teen Science Café features ethnomusicologist John Pippen

Learn about how we bond to music, why it impacts us, and what music does for humans around the world at March’s Teen Science Café. CSU assistant professor of music John Pippen will give an interactive presentation on music and culture March 11 at this free event. Pippen’s research demonstrates how people create music and social connections.

When: 5-7 p.m., with the presentation starting at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 11
Where: Everyday Joe’s Coffee House, 144 S. Mason St., Fort Collins
Presenter: CSU assistant professor of music John Pippen

RSVP to the March 11 Teen Science Café here.

March 11 Teen Science Café flier

The Front Range Teen Science Café is part of a larger national network of science cafés for teens. ESMEI’S Teen Science Café brings scientists and teens together for a conversation about science in a local coffee shop. A primary goal of the café is for teens to increase their understanding of the nature of science and to develop a realistic perception of scientists and the lives they lead, which they sometimes do not get in school.

February 17, 2020

Atmos celebrates new community space with ice cream social

After months of construction, the department officially unveiled its new community space, housed in the former department office, with an open house and ice cream social Feb. 17. Here’s a gallery of photos showing the facade and interior before, during and after construction.

ATS building before construction Construction on the facade following Thanksgiving week snowstorm Interior construction, late November Interior construction, mid-December Interior construction, late January

New facade, late January Finished space, late February Finished space, late February Finished space, late February Department celebrates new community space with ice cream social

February 14, 2020

Chih-Chi Hu awarded Best Student Presentation at AMS conference

Chih-Chi Hu, advised by Professor Peter Jan van Leeuwen, won a Best Student Presentation award at the 24th AMS Conference on Integrated Observing and Assimilation Systems for the Atmosphere, Oceans, and Land Surface (IOAS-AOLS) in January.

Hu’s presentation, “A Particle Flow Data Assimilation Method for High-Dimensional Systems,” examined how a nonlinear data assimilation method, the mapping particle filter, can improve the forecast in a high-dimensional system with nonlinear observation operators.

“I feel really honored to receive this award,” Hu said. “I am very grateful to Peter Jan for giving me so much support in my research and opportunities to present my work at a conference during my first year.”

February 6, 2020

Jon Martinez receives second-place Schubert Symposium Student Poster Award

Jon Martinez, advised by Associate Professor Michael Bell, won second place for the poster he presented at the Schubert Symposium during the AMS Centennial Meeting in January. The symposium honored Emeritus Professor Wayne Schubert.

“Wayne’s research has inspired many of the ideas that constitute this project,” said Martinez. “I’m grateful to have participated in the Wayne Schubert Symposium, and I’m truly honored to receive the award.”

His poster, “Characterizing the nature and evolution of asymmetric structures in idealized simulations of rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones,” was intended to better understand how tropical cyclones rapidly intensify in order to produce extended, reliable intensity forecasts. Martinez’s research examined whether asymmetric structures contribute to or interfere with tropical cyclone rapid intensification.

Photo at top: Jon Martinez with his award-winning poster at the Schubert Symposium. Photo by Nikki Perrini

February 4, 2020

Three grad students in Barnes research group earn AGU, AMS honors

Three graduate students in Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes’ research group recently were awarded honors from the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society. Ben Toms won two awards, an Outstanding Oral Presentation Award from the AMS 33rd Conference on Climate Variability and Change, and a second-place Student Oral Presentation Award from the AMS 26th Conference on Probability and Statistics. Both Andrea Jenney, who is co-advised by Professor Dave Randall, and Savini Samarasinghe, an electrical engineering student co-advised by Imme Ebert-Uphoff, received Outstanding Student Presentation Awards from the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting.

“We have a talented team in the Barnes group working on machine learning and climate predictability problems,” Toms said. “It’s exciting that the community also recognizes this through these awards!”

In Toms’ second-place presentation, “Physically interpretable neural networks for the geosciences,” he showed that a few neural network interpretability methods open the door to using neural networks for science. In “Using neural networks to identify forecasts of opportunity for decadal prediction,” he discussed how to identify climate states that lead to increased predictability on decadal timescales using neural networks and neural network interpretability methods.

The circulation of the atmosphere is expected to weaken in a future warmer climate. Despite a predicted increase in precipitation, the average strength of stormy updrafts is anticipated to decrease near the surface. Jenney’s talk, “Scale Dependence of Changes in Large-Scale Vertical Motion and Convective Mass Fluxes in a Future, Warmer Climate,” demonstrated that while circulation weakens, the stormy updrafts actually can strengthen aloft, due to changes in the clouds and vertical motion between the storms.

Samarasinghe’s poster, “Using Causal Discovery Methods to Explore Subseasonal Teleconnections in a Changing Climate,” presented collaborative research with Barnes, Ebert-Uphoff, and Lantao Sun, a research scientist with Professor Jim Hurrell’s group.

“We investigated the tropospheric and stratospheric teleconnections between the MJO and the NAO using causal discovery approaches,” Samarasinghe explained. “We also looked into how these interactions change in future climate projections using the CESM2 model.”

January 29, 2020

Minnie Park and Alex Sokolowsky win top presentation awards at AMS symposium

Minnie Park and Alex Sokolowsky, both advised by Sue van den Heever, earned first and second place, respectively, for their student oral presentations at the 12th Symposium on Aerosol-Cloud-Climate Interactions.

The Committee on Atmospheric Chemistry selected Park’s presentation, “Understanding Aerosol Impacts on Tropical Land-Sea-Breeze Convection Using a Statistical Emulator Approach,” for the top honor.

“I am very thankful for the judges for their time and inputs, and my advisor Sue for her mentorship and support. Most of all, I would like to acknowledge the van den Heever group for their constructive comments and moral support!” Park said.

Sokolowsky’s presentation, “Exploring the Sensitivity of Tropical Oceanic Convective Clouds to Aerosol Characteristics under Differing Thermodynamic Environments,” focused on how cumulus congestus quantities and properties responded to changes to both initial aerosol concentration and initial low-level static stability.

“I am very grateful to Sue and the rest of the van den Heever group for their excellent feedback and support on both the presentation itself and the research that went into it,” Sokolowsky said.

Photo at top: Minnie Park presents her first-place student oral presentation at the 12th Symposium on Aerosol-Cloud-Climate Interactions.

Alex Sokolowsky presents research

Alex Sokolowsky presents his research during the 12th Symposium on Aerosol-Cloud-Climate Interactions.

January 28, 2020

Ben Trabing awarded for poster presented at AMS Annual Meeting

The AMS Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting honored Ph.D. candidate Ben Trabing with an award for the poster he presented at the 100th American Meteorological Society meeting in Boston this month.

Trabing’s poster, “Understanding Rapid Intensity Changes in Official Hurricane Intensity Forecast Error Distributions,” exhibited how well forecasters predict rapid changes in hurricane intensity and how forecasts have improved with time. It also investigated some of the factors that may contribute to large errors in order to better predict intensity changes in the future.

“I am very thankful to have received the award, particularly because this was the 100th AMS meeting and one of the most attended,” said Trabing.

Trabing is advised by Associate Professor Michael Bell.

January 15, 2020

Department one of only 14 accepted into AGU diversity program

The U.S. geosciences workforce does not reflect the diversity of the U.S. population, and the American Geophysical Union’s Bridge program aims to fix that. AGU founded the new program to improve recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduate programs. CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science was one of 14 institutions chosen as a partner in the program’s first round.

“The department applied because it strongly feels that diversity on our campus strengthens our entire scientific community,” said Associate Department Head and Professor Eric Maloney. “We are continually seeking new partnerships to increase diversity within our program.”

Maloney led the department’s application, along with Professors Emily Fischer, Jim Hurrell, Jeff Pierce and Kristen Rasmussen, and Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Melissa Burt. AGU received 52 applications from hopeful Bridge partners, representing 20 percent of the 250 active Earth and space science graduate programs in the United States. Through a rigorous review process, AGU assessed each institution’s ability to support and mentor underrepresented students.

Read full Source article, “CSU Department of Atmospheric Science accepted into AGU diversity program.”

Photo at top: ESMEI’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program is one of the ways in which the department has recruited students from underrepresented groups and mentored budding young scientists. REU interns from 2019 are pictured here. 

January 9, 2020

Wayne Schubert honored with symposium at AMS Centennial Meeting

The American Meteorological Society will again recognize Professor Emeritus Wayne Schubert at its 100th annual meeting by holding a symposium in his honor Jan. 15. AMS named symposia acknowledge the contributions of the most distinguished members of the field.

“The symposium will celebrate and honor Professor Schubert for his distinguished career as a researcher and educator in atmospheric science,” notes the AMS website. “His contributions have been far-reaching and pioneering, yielding profound new insights into tropical cyclones, moist convection, and the dynamics of mesoscale and synoptic-scale phenomena.”

This is Schubert’s fourth AMS honor. He was elected as a fellow in 1997. In 2016, AMS commended him with the Jule G. Charney Medal, one of the organization’s top awards, and in 2017, he was asked to deliver the Bernhard Haurwitz Memorial Lecture, in recognition of his significant contributions to atmospheric science.

Read the full Source article, “Wayne Schubert honored with symposium at AMS Centennial Meeting.”

2019 Announcements