The weather Sunday was ideal, to say the least. But members of the University’s chapter of the American Meteorological Society could’ve predicted its beauty days before.
Members of the Meteorological Society came to the Diag Sunday to teach passers-by about the field of meteorology. Society members hosted the event as part of an outreach effort to expose students and community members to research efforts currently underway at the University, as well as other institutions.
Engineering graduate student Justin Tsu co-organized the event with a fellow club member Engineering senior Barbara Doyle.
“There’s so much more to it than just (weather) news and rocks falling from the sky,” Tsu said. “In general, meteorology is all about applied physics of the atmosphere. It’s how wind moves — it’s how the resulting movement of wind can cause different types of weather.”
About 10 student and non-student organizations joined AMS on the Diag with information, demonstrations and models. Other participating organizations included the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — which includes with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab — the Michigan Solar Car Team and the National Weather Service of Detroit/Pontiac.
Rackham student David Benson-Putnins said he came to WeatherFest to recruit students for the Solar Car Team. The team recruits members studying in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences because they are equipped with a background in meteorology and can help predict the weather for a five-day race.
“How fast the battery empties depends on how fast we drive and how much solar radiation we get,” he said.
Each booth offered a different perspective on meteorology.
Engineering graduate student Nathan Boll represented the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System project on campus. Boll, a NASA ambassador involved in science education and outreach for NASA programs, said CYGNSS is “recording GPS signals reflected off the surface of the ocean that will tell us about the wind speed inside of tropical storms from space.”
“Part of this public outreach activity is to educate people about the opportunities for research that are going on here at the University of Michigan and the surrounding area, but also the impacts of NASA science on our local community,” Boll added.
Boll said the data collected from CYGNSS would allow researchers to build better computer models to predict the path and strength of hurricanes before they make landfall. Such technology could help keep people safe by providing more accurate weather warnings.
University alum Andrea Reynolds, outreach workshops manager for the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, explained the function of the infrared camera at her booth.
The camera highlighted the coolest and hottest places on your body. She said meteorologists use these cameras in weather satellites to find out “where storms are … and how high clouds are in the atmosphere.”
University alum Rich Pollman, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service of Detroit/Pontiac, said he came to WeatherFest to support AOSS and to teach people “how to be prepared for severe weather and how to get a hold of that weather information so that they can act in times of emergencies.”
Pollman, a graduate of the AOSS class of 1992, said he enjoyed speaking with members of the AOSS department about what it is like to work for the National Weather Service.
“It’s always fun to come back here and help out the old department and see the new students that are here.”