Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz has recently published two articles on high-impact weather in the Midwest U.S. and along African Highlands. The first article, published in the journal Weather and Forecasting features collaboration with Macy Howarth ’16 and colleagues Jason Cordeira from Plymouth State University and Thomas Galarneau Jr. from University of Arizona. This work shows that weather patterns in the western Pacific Ocean region, near Japan spur severe weather and hot temperatures in the Midwest up to six days later. The second article, published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology is a collaboration with Caitlin Crossett ’15 and reveals a first analysis of periodic cold surges that severely impact agriculture and quality of life along the African Highlands.
“This work has forecasting implications when it comes to understanding the potential for severe weather,” says Metz, whose research on the Midwest assessed more than 200 reports of severe weather, 6-8 inches of rain and millions of dollars in infrastructure damage in just a two-day period. “In an ever-changing climate, it is likely that extreme weather events will continue to increase in magnitude and number.”
Metz, Howarth and Crossett spent “endless hours” analyzing meteorological datasets as early as the 2013 HWS summer research program. “The analysis was a long process, but both students were impressive for their drive,” says Metz. “I truly believe that the HWS summer research program is a jewel among all of the impressive programs offered at HWS. It’s one of the reasons I decided to come to HWS.”
A leader in the field of atmospheric science, Metz is excited by the success of his students. Howarth is earning a master’s degree in atmospheric science at the University at Albany and Crossett concluded her master’s degree in atmospheric science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this spring and will pursue a Ph.D in hydrometeorology at the University of Vermont beginning this summer.
“This was my first time doing a research project of this scale and it has set me up incredibly well for my research at the master’s level, and my Ph.D. level research starting this summer,” says Crossett.
For Crossett and Howarth, their work with Metz carries the potential to improve quality of life across the globe. “Severe weather, such as the thunderstorms and heat waves discussed in this publication, have significant impacts on society,” says Howarth, who majored in geoscience during her time at HWS. “Being able to understand the events that led up to these phenomena and the environments in which they form is essential to being able to forecast severe weather and potentially save lives.”