Storm Chasers Take a Break at the Southern Great Plains Site

Published: 19 June 2012

Scientist Gunnar Senum (far left) from Brookhaven National Laboratory describes the aerosol observing system to a group of visiting meteorology students from Rutgers University.
Taking a break from storm chasing due to “good weather,” a group of 16 meteorology students from Rutgers University visited the ARM Southern Great Plains site in early June. The students, ranging from juniors to recent graduates, are participating in an inaugural severe weather class taught by Steve Decker, an assistant professor in the environmental science department at Rutgers. The class took a two-week field trip to the Midwest in hopes to see severe weather and visit points of interest in the area.

Decker received an introduction to the SGP site during his involvement in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Oklahoma/National Severe Storms Lab in 1998. More recently, Mark Miller, his colleague at Rutgers who is heavily involved with ARM, occasionally shared news about research using data from the site. When considering alternate activities for his new class, Decker broached the subject of a visit to the site with Miller, who put him in touch with the SGP site team.

Site operations manager John Schatz and associate on-site scientist Daniel Hartsock provided a guided tour of the SGP Central Facility and answered students’ questions along the way. During their tour, the students also talked with a few visiting scientists. Gunnar Senum, from Brookhaven National Laboratory, was working with the aerosol observing system (AOS) for the second ARM Mobile Facility. The AOS was undergoing a measurement comparison with the SGP system, and he explained the various aerosol measurements it obtains. Similarly, Victor Morris, from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, explained the purpose of the two instruments he was working on—the total sky imager and ceilometer—in preparation for the upcoming MAGIC campaign.

“I believe the students were very impressed with the site and learned a lot about instrumentation they are rarely, if ever, exposed to,” said Decker. He added that the visit gave them a greater awareness of what ARM is all about, and that if they go into research, “they will know about the rich data sets that may be of use to them.”