Forensic Meteorology & Climatology: A rapidly emerging niche

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 8:45 AM
B214 (GWCC)
Elizabeth Austin, WeatherExtreme Ltd., Fallbrook, CA

The specialized field of Forensic Meteorology-Climatology is growing exponentially. The work of forensics meteorologists is world-wide and includes work on cases such as murders, auto accidents, floods, aviation accidents, pollution, noise abatement, winds, snow, avalanches, lightning storms, and even sonic booms. Clients include attorneys, industry, governments (local up to federal), and even the general public. The word forensics has become a hot button and led to expansion in many fields. Meteorology is proving to be one of the more important forensic sciences.

Though many Colleges and Universities present the field of forensic meteorology in some of their courses, only a few actually offer an entire course in it. WeatherExtreme Ltd. is working with the Atmospheric Science Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, to develop a course entitled “Forensic Meteorology” and hopes to have it on the Spring 2010 schedule.

The course will familiarize the students with the important graphic tools such as satellite, radar viewing and analysis programs, sounding analysis programs, global reanalysis data and atmospheric modeling. Forensic experts, like others, now spend time in the court room demonstrating and defending their testimony. Their role in this venue with attorney's, judges and jury's will be examined and shown the necessity of preparation and demeanor. Students will analyze their own case study from start to finish throughout the course. The students will participate in a mock court room trial at the end of the semester where they will present their ‘expert opinions' in front of UNR Pre-Law students who will act as lawyers and judge.

Forensic Sciences in general will also be studied including what it takes to become an “expert” in any field and in particular in the meteorological & climatological sciences, the differences in the State and Federal court systems, the requirements to obtain “expert” status, and the rules of professional conduct and service.

The Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) program is an excellent source for budding as well as experienced forensic meteorologists to expand their horizons, problem-solve, and keep up with the current research and consulting services. The collaboration between CCMs and education is critical in developing new, enthusiastic and well-prepared forensic meteorologists.