Laird Receives Two Weather Grants – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Laird Receives Two Weather Grants

Associate Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird recently received two grants to work with two regional National Weather Service Forecast Offices. Each of the two grants were awarded through the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology Education and Training (COMET®), a program sponsored by the National Weather Service to promote a better understanding of mesoscale meteorology and address education and training needs in the atmospheric and related sciences.

The two grants will fund four undergraduate research students during the 2012 HWS summer research program to work on collaborative projects with the National Weather Service Forecast Offices (NWSFO) in Buffalo and Binghamton, N.Y.

Undergraduate research played such an important role in my career path and provides an unmatched learning opportunity beyond the classroom, so I have made a concerted effort to meaningfully involve undergraduates in my research program,” explains Laird. “The atmospheric science research group, which has consisted of HWS and non-HWS undergraduates, has been part of the larger HWS summer research program and has consisted of a total of 28 undergraduate research internships since I first took on summer research students in 2005.”

The first collaborative project between the Buffalo NWSFO and the Colleges will use Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and GOES-R simulated products in combination with currently existing radar, surface, and computer model data. It will also use rapid scan and/or super rapid scan GOES satellite data collected during winter 2011/2012 events to better understand, monitor, and nowcast the development and evolution of intense lake-effect snow bands. 

The second collaborative project between the Binghamton NWSFO and the Colleges will use similar data sets to better forecast and understand the development, evolution, and impact of lake-effect snow bands during events with multi-lake connections – snow bands extending from over one Great Lake to over another.

Additionally, the grant will assist the National Weather Service in better preparing for using data that will be collected from the first GOES-R satellite to be launched in 2015. The satellite will begin a new era in U.S. geostationary environmental remote sensing. Its instruments will produce more than 50 times the information provided by the current GOES system and will offer a variety of unique environmental observations with particular emphasis on hazardous weather in the Western Hemisphere and space weather impacts.

Laird is an editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and served as an associate editor for six years (2004-2010). He is a member of several scholarly associations including Sigma Xi, the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, Association of American Geographers, and the Council on Undergraduate Research. He also works in partnership with the Finger Lakes Institute, a division of HWS dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and the surrounding environments.

Laird earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.S. in meteorology from the State University of New York at Oswego. Before joining the faculty at HWS in 2004, he taught for two years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was a research scientist at the Illinois State Water Survey for nine years.

In the photo above, visible satellite imagery collected from a current GOES-12 satellite shows lake-effect clouds over the Great Lakes region.