Associate Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird recently published a paper investigating the frequency and characteristics of weather fronts that have occurred in the Great Lakes region. The paper appeared in the August issue of Weather and Forecasting, a scientific peer-reviewed journal published by the American Meteorological Society.
The article, “Surface Fronts, Troughs, and Baroclinic Zones in the Great Lakes Region,” was co-authored with two undergraduate research students who had worked with Laird during the 2008 HWS summer research program, as well as Dr. Eric Hoffman a professor of meteorology at Plymouth State University. The undergraduate research students who helped develop and complete the project included Melissa Payer, an undergraduate student from Plymouth State University who has since gone on to complete her M.S. in atmospheric sciences from the University at Albany (SUNY), and Richard Maliawco, an undergraduate student from Lyndon State College, who is currently completing his M.S. in atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This study is one of very few to present the climatological variability of surface fronts of all types across a region. The results provide useful insights into the current operational determination of analyzed surface fronts and troughs by quantifying their association with surface baroclinic zones in the Great Lakes region. Frontal frequencies indicated that cold fronts were the most common, followed by stationary, warm, and occluded fronts, in that order. The variation in the annual frequency of all front types was small throughout the period. Troughs were present more frequently than any front type and exhibited greater variability of annual frequency. Moderate or strong baroclinic zones were associated with about 34 percent of the analyzed troughs in the Great Lakes region and this relationship was further examined for three different trough classifications (i.e., synoptic, sub-synoptic, and mesoscale).
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.