S33 From Classroom to Field Work: Bolstering Undergraduate Educational Experience during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry Experiment

Sunday, 6 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Nicole Bart, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND; and M. E. Becker, K. Pinkney, S. Rowe, M. Starzec, J. K. Weber, G. L. Mullendore, B. Bigelbach, J. S. Tilley, and L. D. Carey

Undergraduate students from the University of North Dakota were given the opportunity to broaden their experiences in atmospheric research by taking part in a semester course during the spring of 2012 that culminated in extensive fieldwork experience during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) Experiment. During the classroom portion, students were introduced to the current understanding of upper tropospheric chemistry and the role midlatitude continental convective clouds play in these processes. Students were also introduced to the plan of operations for the DC3 field campaign and the inherent complexities of a campaign of its size. During the final days of the class, leading up to the campaign start, students used what they learned to put together a simulated ‘day one' forecast following the DC3 Operations Plan. Students forecasted storm initiation, mode and transport characteristics using data from the 2011 DC3 Field Catalogue and then provided a detailed fly or no-fly decision within a weather briefing. A summer forecasting internship class was also offered that coincided with the field campaign. Students that participated in this class had the opportunity to forecast in real-time for all three DC3 focus regions, improve forecast skills, and encounter a more in-depth look at forecast decisions associated with various atmospheric regimes. Simultaneously, pairs of undergraduate students traveled to the Alabama region of operations and worked closely with faculty and graduate students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville for approximately two weeks per team. There they observed weather briefings, critical decision-making and helped launch weather balloons from a mobile sounding vehicle. The students reported that by taking part in this comprehensive experience, they gained a broader perspective on atmospheric research and a greater enthusiasm for pursuing careers within the atmospheric sciences.

A single case day experienced by one of the teams is presented. The particular case was chosen since it represents the experiences of each team as a whole. On 21 May 2012, a flight to the Alabama region was scheduled for 1600 UTC. Throughout the day, students launched four radiosondes to obtain both pre-convective and convective profiles of the atmosphere to complement the data gathered by the aircraft. The first two launches occurred at the Interstate 65 Tennessee Welcome Center in Ardmore, TN and were launched at 1528 UTC and 1738 UTC, respectively. The objective of these first two launches was to collect the pre-convective profiles of the atmosphere. Later in the afternoon, students relocated to one mile northeast of the Limestone Correctional Facility in Harvest, AL, where the third launch occurred at 2037 UTC. The fourth radiosonde launch occurred at 2201 UTC at Isom's Chapel United Methodist Church in Athens, AL. These latter two launches captured inflow soundings with nearby scattered convection while the DC3 aircraft were flying in the northern Alabama flight zone.

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