2010 JISAO Summer Research Internship
Understanding aerosol optical properties over the American continents
I came from Puerto Rico for a second summer internship with JISAO so I could have a research experience before beginning graduate school at the University of Washington (UW) in the fall. Once again trying to understand the many facets of our atmosphere, I worked with JISAO Director Thomas P. Ackerman on aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements collected during the May 2009 - June 2010 Around the Americas expedition. Atmospheric aerosols are tiny particles that are suspended in the air above the Earth's surface. They have a great impact in our planet's climate but a lot is yet to be understood about their dynamics, distribution, and interactions.
The purpose of my research was to analyze AOD data taken by the crew of the Ocean Watch and compare it with satellite derived products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MODIS), aboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellite platforms, and the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard Terra. This research has important implications for research in the field of Aerosols and Remote Sensing because not many sun photometer readings have been made in the ocean in the Southern Hemisphere, plus, such measurements have never been made during such a long expedition. The internship included development of algorithms and graphical outputs as well as the extraction and analysis of satellite data. I also did field work in the Seattle area obtaining sun photometer readings to be compared with satellite derived products in the future.
Aside from doing research, I also went on a couple of adventures across the area. I went canoeing in Lake Washington with the other JISAO interns, and went paragliding with fellow intern Kyle Thomas at Tiger Mountain in Issaquah. We also visited many of the area's natural beauties such as Mt. Rainier.
Doing work on projects like these makes me realize that we have a long way to go until we understand the many things our air can do and the many ways it can be affected. It is baffling yet wondrous to know that something as encompassing as our atmosphere can be as delicate as a feather. Our activities, such as aerosol emissions, can not only affect our atmosphere but everything ranging from wildlife to the most remote packs of snow.
I am very grateful to have had this second opportunity to be an intern with JISAO, particularly because I know the previous internship was a key to my decision to becoming a graduate student in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UW, one of the most respected in the nation. It may be a long shot but I have an ambitious desire to one day become a great atmospheric science researcher and a contributor to the progress of society. I greatly believe that being part of JISAO and UW will help me reach these goals I have had since being an elementary school student.
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