The MWO-PSU Partnership improving student education

2013-10-30 13:23:24.000 – Eric Kelsey,  Director of Research

PSU Students Ready to Release Weather Balloon

My job is two-fold: Director of Research at the Observatory and Research Assistant Professor in New Hampshire’s only meteorology program at Plymouth State University (PSU). My job embodies the new joint partnership between MWO and PSU and allows me to leverage resources of both institutions. I am always thinking of ways to integrate scientific research with student learning to advance our understanding of weather and climate while providing real research experiences that will help nurture the next generation of atmospheric scientists.

In my graduate-level Boundary Layer Meteorology course this fall, the eight students are getting a full-blown research experience. For their term project, they will write a proposal to study a boundary layer phenomenon, use PSU and MWO resources to observe this phenomenon, analyze the data, and use a high-resolution numerical model to simulate this phenomenon. They will assess the forecast skill of the model and help advance our understanding of how well the model can forecast this phenomenon, thus helping to improve weather forecasts.

The students chose to study the nocturnal boundary layer in Pinkham Notch on clear, calm nights. Under these conditions, cold, dense air pools in the valley bottom, and warmer air is pushed upward causing an increase in temperature with elevation, called an inversion, which is the opposite of what typically occurs during a sunny day. Tuesday morning had these conditions, so we drove at the wee-hours of the morning to launch weather balloons from the Auto Road base (thanks to the Auto Road for their support!). We launched two balloons before sunrise when the nocturnal inversion was at its strongest.

Now the fun continues as the students analyze the balloon data, compare it with the Auto Road Vertical Profile stations and simulate it with the numerical model. At the end of the semester, the students will write a scientific report of their results and present their findings to the public at PSU. The experiences enabled by the MWO-PSU partnership will surely help to launch their careers to high places!


Eric Kelsey,  Director of Research

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