7.1 Balcones Escarpment Environmental Monitoring Experiment

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 10:30 AM
Ballroom C (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Rebecca Paulsen Edwards, Southwestern Univ., Georgetown, TX; and G. J. Mulvey

Five Universities cooperated in the design and execution of a low budget, piggy-back field experiment during May of 2017to provide students with an undergraduate research experience with real world impacts. This was the Balcones Escarpment Environmental Monitoring Experiment (BEEMEX). The universities involved were:
  • University of the Incarnate Word
  • Southwestern University
  • Texas A&M University, San Antonio
  • St. Edward’s University
  • University of Texas, El Paso

The experiment was conducted to determine the impact of a mesoscale topographic feature, the Balcones Escarpment, located in central Texas induced mesoscale perturbations in the surface flow that are significant to the local climate, particularly the topographically induced vertical motion field. Several authors had reported significant effects (Slade, R., 1986; Nielsen, E., R. Schumacher, R., and A. Keclik 2016, and Hopper, L., 2016). This experiment was designed to measure/calculate the vertical and horizontal motion wind fields. The measurement approach: deploy multiple teams of students in cars to measure the atmospheric state parameters using Kestrel 4000 sensors. The students would stop at predetermined sites along defined routes to measure sate parameters. A student team would be located at their home university to collect observations from standard meteorological stations and potentially lower quality stations. The study plan was to augment the existing National Weather Service stations, with data additional data taken in an area bounded by Beeville on the south, Houston on the east, Gatesville on the north, and Kerrville on the west. Six teams were deployed collecting data during the morning run 9:00 to 12:00 and the afternoon run 13:00 to 16:00. Students came face to face with questions ranging from how to take a measurement and where to how to analyze the data. This is an example of how an experimental concept can be formulated and executed for the benefit of the students in a very short time period with essentially no budget.

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