Alex Kowaleski

2010 JISAO Research Internship

Measuring static stability in global climate models

AlexI am Alex Kowaleski, a senior at Davidson College in North Carolina. I spent my summer in the UW Atmospheric Science department researching under Dr. Dargan Frierson. My research consisted of analyzing mid latitude dry and moist static stability in climate models and determining how stability varies by area and season. Static stability is a measure of the stratification of the atmosphere, meaning the extent to which temperature and humidity change with height. Static stability is important because it determines the potential for convection, and therefore, cloud and storm development.

If static stability is high because the atmosphere is highly stratified there is less potential for convection and storm development. My research taught me a great deal about a topic I had not previously been exposed to and my mentor had an infectious interest in my research and was always eager to help me. Researching also greatly strengthened my computer skills; by the end of the summer I greatly improved my MATLAB proficiency. Most importantly, I made a legitimate contribution to the understanding of climate models.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with JISAO. I found the Thursday seminars fascinating, especially Dr. Julian Sachs' research showing that the inter-tropical convergence zone had shifted drastically north during the last five centuries. My five co-interns and I became Alex with his mentor, Dargan Friersonfast friends and had many adventures in Seattle such as canoeing, visiting the cornucopia of Pike Place Market, and enjoying the world-class ice cream and gelato in Wallingford. We were even fortunate enough to have Dr. Ackerman, the director of JISAO, spend his Saturday taking us to Mt. Rainier where we saw some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the world.

Overall, this summer was a great experience. JISAO cemented my decision to apply to graduate school in atmospheric science and I would highly recommend this internship program to any undergraduate who is considering graduate school in the atmospheric or oceanic sciences.

Video

Research poster

Alex's research poster

Click poster for larger view [PDF]