2013 Research Experience for Undergraduates
Understanding dynamical and microphysical interactions in cirrus clouds
As a meteorology major at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, I was thrilled with the opportunity to participate in a research project studying vertical velocities in cirrus clouds at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere (JISAO). Not only did I have the chance to apply the knowledge I learned in the classroom to real-world research, but I also had the pleasure of building relationships with peers and mentors in the field of earth sciences. In addition, I had never lived in a big city so I was excited to experience the many sights and “spirit” of Seattle.
I worked with Dr. Andres Muhlbauer on understanding dynamical and microphysical interactions in cirrus clouds. My research involved conducting an analysis of vertical velocities in the upper troposphere, in particular mid-latitude cirrus. I combined data by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) at the Southern Great Plains (SGP) site in Lamont, Oklahoma with research flights during the Department of Energy Small Particles in Cirrus (SPARTICUS) campaign to compare differences in vertical velocities and explain the conditions which cause such differences. I created and cross-examined reflectivity plots to shed light on which regions should be investigated when creating probability density functions (PDFs). Furthermore, I monitored the aircraft flights, and using latitude/longitude plots, I focused my study on data collected near the ARM site. I learned how visible and infrared images were an additional tool when inspecting the aircraft’s position compared to clouds.
During the nine weeks, I gained a better understanding with MATLAB’s syntax and broadened my skills in computer science. I discovered the life as a researcher for the first time and this experience opened my eyes to pursue a higher level of education as a graduate student and chase additional research opportunities. In light of this experience, I sought research at my own university in order to continue the thrill and educational benefits research offers. As an added benefit, I am applying what I learned this summer to my course work this semester, specifically with the statistical concept of probability density functions and how understanding clouds contributes to an overall understanding of earth science. I am grateful for the opportunity and hospitality JISAO provided. I believe JISAO provided a superior intern experience that will enhance my education and career goals.
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