Climate Dynamics doctoral student Holly Norton was awarded a competitive Summer Student Internship at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). She will be working at the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Maryland. At NCEP, she will be working to improve the land component of climate models. The models calculate the movement of water below the land surface, which affects the availability of soil moisture. The soil, in turn, interacts with the atmosphere. The work is related to Holly’s PhD dissertation and builds on her academic background in both climate dynamics and geology.
AOES Assistant Professor Natalie Burls (top center in photo) was awarded a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Ocean Sciences. The 126 Research Fellows from oceanography, physics, and the other branches of science are chosen by the Sloan Foundation to “represent the most promising scientific researchers working today” whose “achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders.” Since 1955, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 43 Sloan Research Fellows, including ozone-hole pioneer Mario Molina and theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. The fellowship comes with a two-year, $60,000 stipend.
Originally from South Africa, Natalie Burls came to Mason in January 2015 following a postdoctoral position at Yale University. Her research investigates how the ocean and atmosphere interact to determine climate. Her work looks at both today’s climate and climate over the past five million years. In addition to her research, she teaches courses in the AOES department, including the “Gen-Ed” class CLIM 102 Introduction to Global Climate Change Science (co-taught with Kathy Pegion). She is pictured here with Climate Dynamics PhD students in Great Falls Park.
AOES Professor and COLA scientist Timothy DelSole has been appointed co-chief editor of the Journal of Climate. The American Meteorological Society established J. Clim. in 1988, and the journal is a leading publication in climate and atmospheric science, ranking seventh for Impact Factor as evaluated by ISI Thomson rankings in its field. DelSole, who joins John Chiang of U. California, Berkeley, as co-chief editor, has been a J. Clim. editor since 2010.
Paul Dirmeyer, an AOES professor and researcher at GMU’s Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) participated in work recently highlighted by the University of Texas. He collaborated with lead author Jiangfeng Wei of U. Texas at Austin. By studying past observations as well as simulations of California climate, they found that variations in ocean evaporation are too weak to have a large direct influence on the amount of precipitation during droughts in California.
AOES and COLA Atmospheric Sciences researchers have begun a collaboration to provide the public with real-time access to critical weather and atmospheric data, helping students and scientists better research, track and predict weather.
“This project provides an opportunity for Mason scientists to conduct original research with the data stream provided by Ligado that can provide deeper insights into the properties and dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere,” said Jim Kinter, Director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies at Mason. “The data from a next-generation satellite launched just a few weeks ago that we will receive from Ligado are unprecedented in their resolution, time frequency, and scope. Our students will be able to gain a fuller picture of how the atmosphere operates, zooming in from a hemisphere view to the mid-Atlantic, the Commonwealth, and even the neighborhood.”
“The mesmerizing views of their home planet will inspire students to inquire how the Earth works and seek a deeper understanding of weather and climate, and the real-time nature of the data stream lends a sense of excitement and exploration that is not possible otherwise. One instrument alone, the lightning sensor, gives Mason students and researchers the potential to revolutionize our understanding of thunderstorms.”
Pictures from Annual AOES Graduation Party
AOES Chair Dr. Edwin Schneider gives academic achievement awards to some students graduating from AOES this year (top and bottom). AOES paleontologist Dr. Mark Uhen inducts students in to Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the Earth science honor society.
Graduating Climate Dynamics PhD Xiaoqin Yan is one of two COS students chosen to receive the Dean’s Graduate Award for Excellence, which comes with a $1000 scholarship. Her dissertation, under the guidance of AOES professor Tim DelSole, is “A Systematic Framework for Improving Estimates of Anthropogenic Aerosol Cooling”.
Dr. Yan’s thesis attempts to answer the most outstanding question in climate change research: how much will the earth warm in response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations? State-of-the-art climate models produce a range of answers to this question. Xiaoqin’s thesis project was to constrain each model’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases using past observational data. The biggest challenge with this approach is to account for the cooling effect of aerosol emissions from human activities which have partly “masked” greenhouse warming. Xiaoqin improved upon previous estimates by using optimal filtering techniques and developing a new statistical framework for rapidly exploring variable combinations.
Xiaoqin Yan grew up in a small town in landlocked Sichuan province in southwest China. A two-day’s journey to the coast brought her to Ocean University of China, where she majored in atmospheric science. She then earned an MS at University of Northern British Columbia, where she corresponded with Dr. DelSole about his statistical techniques for measuring changes in the climate. Upon graduation, she will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab, which is on the campus of Princeton University.
Mason professor Jim Kinter was recently elected to the Council of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Dr. Kinter is a Professor in AOES and the Director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) at Mason. As a Council member, he will be serving with 17 other members on the principal governing body of the nation’s premier scientific and professional organization promoting atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences.
In addition to his participation in the AMS Council, Dr. Kinter has served as chair or co-chair of several steering committees in the climate modeling community, including International CLIVAR Climate of the 20th Century Project, Community Advisory Committee for National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), and the Modeling, Analysis, Prediction and Projections (MAPP) CMIP5 Task Force. His research centers on using numerical models to investigate the predictability of climate.