PhD Student Awarded NASA Fellowship

Monthly fractional snow cover from Terra MODIS, Feb 2004.

Climate Dynamics PhD student Li Xu has been awarded the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) for the 2010-11 academic year. Li Xu was one of 53 students, out of 278 applicants, selected to receive the $30,000/year award, which is renewable for a total of three years. The fellowship will help him finish work on his doctoral dissertation. Li Xu is working under the guidance of AOES Distinguished University Professor J. Shukla and COLA Research Scientist Paul Dirmeyer.

Li Xu’s dissertation topic is “Snow-atmosphere coupling strength and its contribution to climate predictability–a modeling investigation based on the MODIS and AMSR-E snow retrievals.” The goal of his thesis is to investigate whether having better snow data will improve predictability of climate on monthly to seasonal timescales. Snow has an important effect on weather and climate by altering the Earth’s albedo (reflectivity to solar radiation) and influencing soil moisture through snow melt. NASA satellites are remotely sensing snow extent (MODIS data) and snow depth (AMSR-E data). Li Xu is conducting experiments with the CAM atmospheric model to compare climate predictions for the northern hemisphere with and without the NASA data on snow variability.