Monday, January 15, 2018

AMS Austin

I attended the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting 2018 in Austin, Texas last week.  I was there Sunday until Thursday and I'm afraid if I let the semester start before I take some time to process the trip, I might forget all of the great things I learned.

I flew out early Sunday morning and not only was everyone on my bus going to AMS from Boulder, but we joined even more of them on the plane to Austin.  It was great seeing an old professor I used to TA for, a good friend, and I even sat next to an old student.  My friend Keren and I were at the same hotel and went and grabbed some smoked brisket tacos at Cedar Door. 

The first highlight was a fantastic talk by Richard Alley Sunday afternoon, the Presidential Forum, titled "Transforming Communication in the Environmental Sciences:  Some thoughts from a reluctant participant."  Richard pointed out how old the science of climate change is compared to that of the science of your smart phone. 

Sunday night was the student poster conference from 6-8 and three students from MSU Denver presented, one of which did her research under me.  Her title was, "Analyzing the frequency of high amplitude wave patterns and their relationship with extreme weather events in the U.S."  We used NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data since 2048 and calculated the waviness by finding the sinuosity.  We looked for seasonality and trends and found a very insignificant 1% increase in sinuosity.  Weather patterns had become more stagnant, though, particularly in the winter. 

Because I had a late lunch, I started what would become a theme-- no sit-down meal, but a protein shake from the grocery store for a really late dinner. 

Monday I attended some talks on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation bright and early.  By 10:30 I had made my way to literally the furthest room from where I had started to hear Richard Alley speak about glaciology using an excellent pancake analogy, a potato chip analogy, and a flying buttress analogy.  He discussed how he contributed some knowledge about these cliffs of ice calving to the glacier modelers.  Of course this is extremely complex, but his talk was really about trying to understand the low-probability, but high impact of extreme sea level rise due to Antarctic ice loss. 

I was in for a real treat, the next speaker was Lonnie Thompson, speaking about ice cores in the Himalayas.  I read a great book about Lonnie a while back called "Thin Ice."  Of course I had to miss the last 5 minutes to run back across the entire conference center, down 4 flights of stairs, go across the street and up 6 flights for another climate variability talk on hemispheric waviness by Jessica Taheri and Jon Martin.

Lunch time rolled around and there was another presidential forum, this time on the 2017 hurricane season.  At this point I was glad I had a granola bar and some other snacks in my bag because this 90 minute session was riveting and there was no way I was leaving for lunch.  The moderator was Marshall Shepherd, head of NWS Louis Uccellini, Response, Recovery and Future Mitigation by
Tony Robinson, Flooding Impacts from Hurricane Harvey by Jeff Lindner, Communication Challenges and Best Practices by John Toohey-Morales, Storm Surge Communication and Impacts by Jamie R. Rhome, Impacts from 2017 Season in Puerto Rico by Ada Monzón, and Connections to Climate and Future Research Opportunities by Kerry Emanuel. The video below starts with Ada's talk, which had me in tears when she spoke about Maria's impact on Puerto Rico and all of her outreach. I've started the video below on her talk, although you can scoot back to the others as well if you'd like. The whole 90 minutes are well worth watching.

After this was the session on the Climate Science Special Report.  One of the themes of this session is for a 66% chance of preventing 2 degrees C global warming, we must stay below 800Gt carbon.  If we assume a pathway of 4.5W/m2, which is less than the path we are currently on (we're on the RCP path 8.5), that means we have 20 years before we have to stop entirely.  More at  This session closed with good information on blocking patterns and jet stream patterns from Judith Perlwitz and more from Patrick Taylor. 

I then headed to the poster session where alum Katie Steinmann was presenting a poster on her Master's research and fellow professor Rich Wagner was presenting on his GLOBE project.  The poster session had ice cream and popcorn, which was very welcome after only snacking for lunch.  The Exhibit hall opened at 6 and I got a call from a friend who was ill in Austin and needed some help.  I finally got to eat my first meal of the day at 8:30, again at Cedar Door, with friend Katie. 

Tuesday started off with a session on jets and storm tracks and included information about the narrowing of the northern hemisphere jet in the winter by Magnussdotir.  She spoke about the tug of war between Arctic warming at the surface and upper level tropical warming.  Melissa Breeden spoke about wintertime blocking. 

I got to go to lunch with my friend Jen from University of Hawaii.  Jen was with me in Morocco last year for the UN meeting.  It was nice catching up!

After lunch I attended a session for broadcast meteorologists on communicating climate change.  Kevin Trenberth discussed rainfall in hurricane Harvey and the relationship to climate change, Katherine Hayhoe talked about communicating climate change, and others in this session had some neat things to say.  Unfortunately, I had to run off to the poster session before Denver 7's Mike Nelson spoke, but I heard it was fantastic and my students loved it. 

Shauna Bokn graduated from MSU Denver last spring and Jennifer Shepard graduates this coming spring.  The two of them and I have been working this past fall on a project.  Jenny presented her part of the research on Sunday at the student conference, but Shauna had her precipitation-centered version of the project Tuesday.  We were happy to have some familiar faces walk by, including the person whose idea it was to use sinuosity as a measure of waviness, Dr. Jon Martin from University of Wisconsin. 

Tuesday night was alumni night.  I hit the Wisconsin alumni meet up in the Hilton right away at 6:00 and met up with an old friend from undergrad, Jess.  We spotted another gal from our year, Holly.  Fellow professor Rich Wagner is also an alum, as were a few other friends.  The food was fantastic.  I then rushed off to Buffalo Billiards for the MSU Denver alumni get together.  We had a few loyal alumni from the 80's show up, our students, and a few that have graduated more recently.  It was fun to catch up with them and see how things are going at their jobs and graduate programs!  Here's a group photo, just missing two people.  The music was so loud, I was afraid I was going to lose my voice, fighting off a cold or some allergies all week, so I headed home around 10:30.

Wednesday there was a session on Arctic climate variability and change with talks by Taylor, Lynch, and Kushner.  Over lunch I practiced my talk and enjoyed a protein shake.  My talk was in a session on innovative teaching in dynamics courses.  I've taught dynamics for seven years and this past fall I tried a new computer programming project that I presented on.  My students came to my talk and it was nice making eye contact with them, it calmed me a bit because the room was filled with so many people I look up to!  In fact my advisor spoke right after me!  There were some other really great talks in my session and I came away with lots of ideas. 

Wednesday night my students left for Denver and we took down the student chapter poster (below).  I was very proud of my students all week, they really represented the school well.  Thanks to student activities for funding most of them to go!

Wednesday night was the awards banquet.  The gluten free meal was pretty lackluster and I was just so disappointed that I had been in Austin for 4 days and had eaten out twice at the same restaurant.  I vowed to make Thursday count!  The banquet was pretty nice with lots of deserving awards.  I headed home after a long, tiring day.

Thursday my flight wasn't until 4:45, so I woke up and did some touristing.  I walked to Congress Ave to a cafe and then to the capitol.  I enjoyed the inside of yet another capitol building with a giant dome.  Seriously, how many are there?  I continued past the capitol to the university where I saw the Tower.  I continued past that down Guadalupe Street to Trudy's for lunch.  I enjoyed a great Tex-Mex lunch of enchiladas (Thanks to Dr. Parr for the recommendation!) and walked back through campus another way.  Campus is huge!  I enjoyed the petroleum engineering building, the Gates computer building, and the canoe sculpture.  I returned to the conference center just in time (8 miles later) for the final talk by Clara Deser on climate model projections from CESM.  I then ran off to the airport for my flight and got home around 9pm.  AMS was so tiring, but I had to be at work the next day for 3 big meetings.  I worked all day Saturday from home and finished all of my syllabi and boy did I sleep!  I'm finally ready for classes to start. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Award-winning poster and upcoming AMS presentations

Jenny Shepard, a senior meteorology student doing a directed study with me this semester won an award for her poster at the Earth and Atmospheric Science fall research poster conference!  She'll be presenting this at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in August.  She'll be at the student conference Sunday, Exhibit Hall 5, 6:15-8:15.  She's S26.

Former student Shauna is leading our other poster, which will be similar, but more precipitation-focused.  This one is Tuesday in Exhibit hall 3, 3:45-5:30 #559.

Finally, I'm giving a talk on a programming project I did in my dynamics course in an education session focused on dynamics teaching.  This is Wednesday at 2:30 in Ballroom C.  The session goes from 1:30-3:45 if the topic interests you. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Student meteorology club presents the solar eclipse

The meteorology program ordered 1,000 eclipse glasses and gave them out throughout the summer and on the day of the eclipse.  I made sure all EAS classes that morning had a supply of glasses.  I also partnered with Student Activities (Thanks Diana Ibarra!) since we were both planning eclipse parties, why not join forces?  Our Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society hosted a booth, the physics department hosted a booth, and student activities had their booths for handing out their 5,000 sets of MSU Denver eclipse glasses!  Wow!  I was able to print up a bunch of posters and tried to get some poor-man's viewers set up at our booth.  Physics saved the day with some legit eclipse viewers!  Here are some of my favorite photos from the day.
Stephanie, Kiska, Megan, Erin, and Josh prepared to educate the masses
It was a unique experience sharing glasses and sharing the experience with thousands of students on campus while many of my friends headed to Wyoming to experience totality.  A student put it best, "I've never felt such a positive energy on this campus as I did during the eclipse!"  I think it was worth staying behind to educate and spread the love of science, but I might have to head towards totality for the next one in 2024 in the eastern U.S.!

Eclipse party!  

The physics department had a great display of the current moon shadow

Any small hole could project the crescent shape

From my spot on the grass where I had to sit to get away from the swarms of people wanting to borrow glasses.  Hey, a gal's got to take it all in!

Shadows from leaves on the trees

Josh remembering to take it in himself while passing around shared glasses after we ran out

Eclipse party at the Tivoli

So many people, so much awesome energy!

The sun and moon-themed stuffed animals were enjoyed by many

Bri talking to the little ones about what an eclipse is after the main event
Students kept a record of temperature during the eclipse as it dropped.  Dr. Wagner had his GLOBE instruments set up in the shade nearby to record 5-minute temperatures as well.  Yay science!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 is the First Day of Class

Monday, August 21st, 11:47am—First day of classes!
100% totality of the moon going in front of the sun is only visible north and east of here, but here in Denver we can see 93% totality!  You will want to be outside from 11:40-11:50am at the very least.  The next total solar eclipse visible from Colorado isn’t until 2045.  Don’t miss this one!  Never look directly at the sun without eclipse glasses!  Sunglasses are not strong enough.

Eclipse timeline
Eclipse begins 10:23am
93% Totality in Denver:  11:47am—lasts about 2 minutes
Eclipse ends 1:14am

Where:  Look for the SCAMS/EAS booth at Welcome Week the Tivoli Quad where people will be joining together to watch the eclipse from 10:00-2:00.  Gather on the Tivoli lawn from 11:40-11:50 for best viewing.

Get your eclipse glasses in Science 2028, the EAS office.  Glasses have been provided by the Earth and Atmospheric Science Department's Meteorology Program.  If you appreciate the glasses, take a selfie in your eclipse glasses or with a group of friends enjoying the eclipse and share on social media so I can see how many of you used them: 
Twitter: @MSUDenverEAS, #eclipse2017, #MSUDenverEclipse
Instagram: #eclipse2017, #MSUDenverEclipse

Enjoy safely!

Check out this awesome video, "Why a total solar eclipse is such a big deal"
This article lets you punch in your zip code to see what time and how much totality you will see:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Advising Flow Chart and Meteorology Program Recruiting Movie

I created this flowchart to emphasize how important it is for meteorology majors to get started on their math and physics courses very early on.  Grab your own copy from the bulletin board outside of SI 2003.  

One day I was on a roll making videos for my online course and took a break to throw this meteorology program recruiting video together.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Denver March for Science

On Earth Day a global March for Science was organized and our main local march in Colorado was just down the street from our campus in Denver, so we met around 9:00 for coffee and bagels, then marched from the Science building to Civic Center Park.  We had professors, our EAS advisor Karen, students, alumni, and friends joining us in the march.  The march was one of the most positive and uplifting events I've ever attended.  Yes, us scientists are commonly introverted and not huge fans of crowds so we weren't your usual activist chanters.  Yes it was raining and in some cases snowing that morning.  Yes, we all are busy people and have things to do like piles of grading and revisions waiting for us back home, but thousands of science allies still came out to join the march.  It was truly impressive.  The police estimate that 13,000-15,000 marched with a total of about 20,000 attending at some point during the day.  We arrived at the park around 9:55 and enjoyed many of the signs before the march started off to our right.  We hopped in the long line and marched around downtown Denver in the wide streets that were graciously barricaded off for our safety.  Thanks for the Denver police and the volunteers for keeping us safe!

This little guy's family all had made Lorax shirts and a little truffula tree that matched mine.  He was a great sport and let me take his picture in front of the capitol, my favorite picture.

I had made a truffula tree from "The Lorax" that read, "I speak for the trees."  It was a big hit and I probably smiled for 50 photos and had a bunch of kids photographed with it as well.  I ran into many other Lorax fans throughout the morning as well.  The speakers began at some point, including Mike Nelson and our governor, but I was too busy handing out stickers to every future-meteorologist I could find.  We went through 200 stickers.  I'd like to think that my truffula tree was my in to get people to smile at me.
Our advertising stickers
If you are sad you missed out, you can join next Saturday April 29th for the climate march.

Me!  Hard to believe it was in the low 40s and raining just a few hours earlier.
Here are my photos from the day, and near the end a few photos that were posted on the March for Science Denver page that aren't mine.

We started at the Science building and marched to Civic Center Park.  The sun came out around 9:30 just in time!

Karen, Karmen, Dr. Wagner, and Charlie right before we started marching

I found my first fellow Lorax lover!  

Loved this sign!

I'm on the left, but I loved this gal's little Lorax.  Great minds! 

A common meme, but as a meteorologist I still laugh every time.

T-rex showed up.  Dinosaurs for climate science!

Dr. Wagner and I found alumni Dalton and Noah, both of whom are leaving for graduate school in the fall.  So proud!

Dr. Wagner and student in the WASSUP club, Jamie.

Dr. Wagner uses the pump to create a cloud with Erin, who was volunteering at the Denver Boulder American Meteorological Society booth.  Erin is president of our school chapter. 

I don't think I took this picture, but loved this lady's sign.  Thanks for volunteering!

I found this picture of me in someone else's feed.  Thanks!

This was the crowd right before the march started.

Marching in downtown Denver for science.

Gandalf knows what's up.

More Lorax lovers!  Great job, guys!

Making a cloud at the DBAMS booth.

The littlest Lorax had lost half a mustache and an eye during the day but was still going strong 4 hours in!

Dr. Bob Hancock's wife's band played near the end of the march in the band shell.  He's the bio professor down the hall from us.

Cloud in a bottle.  

Make your own tornado.
The following are not my photos, but were posted on the Facebook page for the march.  They give a great sense of the crowd that my photos failed to give.
This isn't my photo.  Sorry I didn't keep track of where I got it either.

This isn't my photo.  Sorry I didn't keep track of where I got it either.

This isn't my photo, photo by Jamie Hurt.

This isn't my photo, and I can't remember where I got it.  Sorry!