Mesoscale Convective Complexes:
The core of my current research agenda involves mesoscale convective complexes (MCCs). MCCs are large, long-lived organized convective systems that typically occur in preferred regions around the world. In addition to damaging winds and hail, and even tornadoes, MCCs often produce prodigious rainfall across sizeable areas. Studies have shown that rainfall from MCCs can be beneficial to agricultural communities. However, MCCs have also been the blame of flash and regional floods, which have left various unfortunate outcomes (e.g., property and crop damage, injuries, and casualties) in the wake of the path of these events. The relevance of these impacts only promotes the need for a greater understanding of the characteristics of these convective systems. Previous studies that I have participated in or conducted have involved constructions of MCC climatologies in the United States and in the subtropical region of South America (SSA). One component from each of these climatological investigations has been the analysis of the contribution of MCCs to the rainfall variability in each region. A couple unique aspects of the South American work was the use of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite data to quantify MCC rainfall, and the development of an impact scale based on MCC rainfall and warm-season precipitation anomalies. I have also investigated the spatial and temporal variability and spatial dependency of MCC precipitation efficiency in the U.S. The most recent of these series of studies involves examinations of MCC variability attributed to low-frequency modes of variability (e.g., South Atlantic Convergence Zone).
Non-convective Wind Events:
Another fascinating arena of research involves severe wind storms that are not associated with thunderstorms, otherwise known as non-convective wind events (NCWEs). Relative to other severe storm topics, NCWEs are understudied. This presents exciting, but challenging opportunities to understand these events better. The origin of these dangerous wind storms can often stem from a complex variety of atmospheric constituents, which can also present difficult challenges to forecasters. NCWEs have been shown to be just as dangerous as hurricanes, often producing widespread damages and unfortunately, injuries and casualties. I have recently participated in a study that constructed a climatology of NCWEs for the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. My future plans involve case-study analyses of particular storms in order to be able to better describe how the dynamics of our atmosphere shape these dangerous events.
Atmospheric teleconnections refer to statistical relationships between atmospheric circulation and resultant weather patterns in various regions around the world. There are quite a number of teleconnections that have been shown to alter weather and climate patterns around the world. My research only deals with a couple. I first delved into teleconnection research as an undergraduate, with a study of the indirect influence of the El Niņo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on tornado frequency in Kentucky. I have also conducted a study on the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on the synoptic environment and resultant precipitation-type distributions across the eastern U.S. As I mentioned before, I am also investigating other modes of low-frequency variability in South America that pertain to MCC activity.
Another component of my research interest involves educational assessment and reform in the atmospheric sciences. As a graduate student teaching weather and climate courses, I became curious of how I could improve student learning and retention. The result of that curiosity was a series of funded projects aimed at redesigning laboratory sections in introductory weather and climate courses in a way that fostered improved learning, as well as enthusiasm inside the classroom. Although, while I mention "inside the classroom", much of the course restructure placed students in the field working with meteorological instruments, or on a computer running global climate models designed by NASA, rather than a desk with a workbook. Building from these experiences, my colleagues and I have conducted studies that assess renovated curricula in the atmospheric sciences.
As the title states, these are only my current research projects. As a young faculty member, I look forward to pursuing other research endeavors with students and other colleagues, some of which that will likely stray from the themes above.
*For references of the aforementioned studies, please click here.
updated 23 June 2009