128 Teaching with Visualizations, Models, and Online Data: Tracking the Onset, Propagation, and Variability of the North American Monsoon

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Dorothea Ivanova, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Prescott, AZ

The goal of this study is to examine how meteorology students use, analyze and understand existing datasets, and utilize Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) modeling system to explore scientific questions during their research projects, funded by the NASA Research Space Grant for undergraduate students in the Arizona campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Teaching with visualizations, and running a mesoscale model engages them in using research data to understand better the nature of the North American Monsoon (NAM). Another objective is to present new opportunities to use 2-D and 3-D meteorological data (such as modeling output, satellite images, cross-sections and time series of important atmospheric variables) to investigate what factors determine a favorable circulation and moisture source-receptor configuration for severe monsoon weather to occur.

Undergraduate research is promoting discovery- and inquiry-based education, and affects students’ knowledge base, skills or attitude toward science and learning about meteorology and monsoon dynamics. The students run the Advanced Research WRF (ARW) model and perform analysis of the CAPE time series (before and after the monsoon onset) with the objective of studying if northern Gulf of Baja-California (GOC) sea surface temperatures (SSTs) exceeding about 29°C during surge events could support favorable monsoonal circulation and boundary layer conditions at adjacent gulf regions, and in the U.S. desert southwest. They relate a rapid increase in rainfall rate over Arizona and New Mexico to the Northern GOC SSTs exceeding 29°C. This is due to a moistening of the marine boundary layer, prior to and around sunrise, where buoyancy is derived from warmer SSTs and higher mixing ratios of water vapor. To summarize, the students analyze the tropospheric water content, total rain accumulation, CAPE and circulation changes over AZ during moisture surge events. Within the Monsoon, surge events exist which transport large amounts of moisture outward. These surge events, and CAPE are monitored and tracked by the students in the classroom using satellite remote sensing visible, infrared, water vapor imagery, and 24-hour precipitation accumulation retrieval products, plus satellite retrievals of the SSTs in the Gulf of Baja-California.

Working with real research data teaches students how to describe and interpret complex graphical information for every case study. It helps them explore the significance of dynamics principles and boundary layer problems in the NAM variability studies. Writing and submitting a conference abstract and a paper to present their results helps students’ writing skills and critical thinking. Students learn to use skills that help them understand how scientists analyze and present findings.

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