The Geoscience Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for an extensive education and outreach project that aims to give students and the public a richer understanding of atmospheric science, severe weather, and weather radar systems.
The Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) mobile radar system will be operated by HWS students and faculty from Feb. 20 to March 8 for a project led by Associate Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird and Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nicholas Metz. About 75 HWS students will partake in a combination of fieldwork and coursework, immerse themselves in the study of meteorology, and participate in educational outreach events across New York State.
The DOW mobile radar is a national meteorological observing facility managed and operated by the Center for Severe Weather Research. It has been used to collect measurements of tornadoes, hurricanes, lake-effect snowstorms and other types of severe weather across the United States and also has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” reality series.
“We are very fortunate to have received this grant and opportunity from the National Science Foundation,” says Laird. “These grants bringing the DOW mobile radar to college and university campuses that are not able to afford and maintain this type of measurement system. We are excited to have the DOW radar back to HWS for a second time and provide our students an outstanding hands-on educational experience.”
“We hope to once again have some exciting weather to explore with the DOW radar while it is at HWS,” Laird says. Laird and Metz had obtained a NSF grant in 2013 to bring the DOW mobile radar to HWS for two weeks. During that experience students used the radar to observe lake-effect snow bands over Lake Ontario and several other weather systems, such as the passage of a strong cold front with transition from rain to snow. Students also participated in several public outreach events.
Students that will have an opportunity to directly participate in the project and get trained on operating the DOW radar are enrolled in one of four atmospheric science courses offered during spring 2015: “Introduction to Meteorology,” “Weather Analysis,” “Mesoscale & Severe Weather” and “Polar Meteorology.”
While the DOW radar is at HWS, students will conduct a variety of activities with the radar, including the planning and deployment of the radar system, collection and analysis of data, and participating in several outreach events. The outreach events will offer grade school and high school students, teachers, and the general public across New York State the opportunity to tour the DOW mobile radar, learn about different types of severe weather, and find out about careers in meteorology.
“Educational outreach is a large portion of the grant and is seen as very important by the National Science Foundation. We are excited to work with the DOW mobile radar to bring more understanding of meteorology to students, teachers, and the general public across New York State,” Laird says.
Laird, Metz and their students will bring the DOW for outreach visits to several school districts, regional science museums and centers, and events on the HWS campus. The group will also bring the DOW radar to Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for the 40th Annual Northeastern Storm Conference for educational and public outreach on March 6-8, 2015.
At HWS, the Geoscience Department provides an outstanding framework for students to advance their knowledge of atmospheric science, hydrology, and geology. Students develop essential scientific skills in a strong liberal arts environment and prepare for a variety of careers. Geoscience students can self-design a program of study and often are engaged in research projects and grant-funded fieldwork. The department is comprised of distinguished faculty who are engaged in their teaching and research with students while excelling as contributors to their respective scientific fields.