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Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences News

OU team assists with Hurricane Florence forecasting

Hurrican Florence

NORMAN, Okla. (KOKH) — One of the teams helping with forecasting for Hurricane Florence is from right here at the University of Oklahoma.

Michael Biggerstaff, the leader of the team from the OU School of Meteorology, said this is something the school can offer during these types of events.

"It's really a group of us that do these types of landfalls and the University of Oklahoma is kind of an expert in weather radar," Biggerstaff said. "That's kind of our component."

The team is bringing in a special radar called a "SMART" radar. Biggerstaff said this can measure different parts of the storm.

"We're a little ways off from the weather service radar so a better resolution of some of the stuff occurring north of the Wilmington area," Biggerstaff said. "So we're going to fill in the gap a little bit there and we'll also be able to combine our data with the weather service data."

Biggerstaff said he expects it to get busy for his team beginning on Wednesday. They're going to have constant monitoring of the storm as the rainfall begins to hit.

"We'll rotate so there's at least one person always operating the radar to handle anything that may occur," Biggerstaff said. "We'll take turns catching a few naps here and there but we'll probably in the truck for about 48 hours this time."

Along with tracking the storm, they're also looking at making forecasts better.

"We have to be able to collect these types of data sets because they're very unique data sets to be able to validate the improvements in forecast models in the future," Biggerstaff said.

The team is also planning to launch ten weather balloons.

They have spent the last day trying to find the best spot to track the storm around Wilmington, NC.

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2018 Convocation!

2018 convocation

Click here to watch the 2018 College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences Convocation!  

OU Professor Receives NASA Earth Science Funding for First-of-its-Kind Research

Dr. Homeyer

NORMAN, Okla.—A University of Oklahoma professor, Cameron Homeyer, is a recipient of a NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science grant for new, early career investigators. Homeyer’s research is the first concept of its kind to take ground-based radar observations of storms and link them to satellite observations of trace gases to better understand the characteristics of storms and how they modify the atmospheric composition.

“NASA’s Early Career Investigator Award goes only to the best of the best. We are thrilled and honored that NASA has selected Professor Homeyer to receive this award,” said Berrien Moore, vice president of Weather and Climate Programs, dean of the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences and director of the National Weather Center.

“We are applying methods to discriminate between air masses that recently have been modified by storms and those air masses that have not been impacted by storms,” said Homeyer, assistant professor and associate director for undergraduate studies, School of Meteorology, OU College of Atmospheric Sciences. “This is the first time anyone has applied these methods in this way to understand this problem.”

The impact of storms on atmospheric composition is not well understood and changes in water vapor and ozone from these storms can have important impacts on Earth’s climate and human health. Storms move air masses with certain chemical characteristics around, and these air masses can impact the atmosphere’s radiation budget, pollution and air quality.

“We don’t understand how these storms modify Earth’s upper atmosphere, particularly in the stratosphere, the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere where the ozone lies and absorbs the ultraviolet radiation; and the troposphere, the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere where human activity takes place,” said Homeyer.

Homeyer will use a trajectory model and information on winds in the atmosphere, then put particles or little air bubbles in places where the storms occur, move them around with the winds and watch as they move downstream to find locations where air masses from storms coincide with satellite observations. Satellite observations from around the world then can be linked to recent storms and compared to air masses that have not been influenced by storms.

Funding for the three-year, $284,000 grant supports the NASA Earth Science mission by advancing the use of satellites and providing data that contributes to understanding the climate system.

OU’s Newest SMART Radar Deploys to Louisiana as Part of STARR Project

SR3 and rainbow

The University of Oklahoma’s newest Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching Radar, SR3, today deployed to Monroe, Louisiana, where a slight risk of tornadic storms exists. An upgrade of the original dual-polarimetric SMART radar, the SR3 just completed its first mission on March 19 to New Market, Alabama, in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and the OU Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

“The SR3 and NOAA’s P-3 aircraft collected data on a rapidly evolving severe hailstorm that preceded a series of tornadic supercells. The SR3 collaborated with the University of Alabama Huntsville and National Weather Service Hytop radars in southern Tennessee on sampling a tornadic storm that produced significant damage as it crossed the border into northern Alabama. Multi-radar observations were captured over a three-hour period from the initial organization to tornadic dissipation,” said Michael Biggerstaff, professor of meteorology and director of the OU SMART radar program.

The SR3 observed a second tornadic storm to the south that produced five tornadoes and hailstones as large as 5.25 inches. The P-3 aircraft flew ahead of the southern tornadic storm and measured winds within the storm during all five tornadoes. The SR3 and P-3 aircraft will continue to work together near Monroe tonight. The project is part of the Southeastern Tornadogenesis and Risk Reduction Exercise, which runs until April 13. The STARR project is part of the larger VORTEX-Southeast research project funded by NOAA.

When the project ends, the SR3 will return to Oklahoma to be used to train the next generation of scientists in an undergraduate radar meteorology course.

In wake of hurricanes, floods and wildfires, NSF awards $18.7 million in natural hazards research grants

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey: It dropped a record-breaking 50-plus inches of rain across parts of Texas and left behind widespread, devastating floods. Following in Harvey's wake, Hurricane Irma has spun another path of destruction.

Beyond the Harvey and Irma disasters, wildfires raged in California this summer, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Now, dozens have perished in Mexico's strongest earthquake in a century.

Read more here

Outstanding Junior

OU SMART Radar Team Deployed to Hurricane Harvey

TX Radar loop

The OU Shared Mobile Atmospheric and Teaching radar team, led by Michael Biggerstaff, OU School of Meteorology, will depart Norman for Corpus Christi, Texas, this afternoon with the mobile C-band dual-polarimetric radar to study the landfall of what will become major Hurricane Harvey. The team will focus on tornadic circulations in the outer rain bands as part of the on-going VORTEX-SE research program objectives, as well as examine the inner core and eyewall circulations that produce inland flooding as part of the NASA Fellowship project.

OU is part of the Digital Hurricane Consortium, which is a group of university and federal government researchers who deploy sensors in advance of landfalling hurricanes. The DHC is part of the federal Disaster Impacts Assessment Plan, which is part of the COASTAL Act that is aimed at better understanding the roles of storm surge and extreme winds on the loss of houses and other buildings in the path of landfalling hurricanes.

The radar truck will be equipped with cameras provided as a result of a recent collaboration between OU, AT&T and The Weather Channel. OU SMART radar team members include Biggerstaff; Addison Alford, OU doctoral student; and Gordon Carrie, OU research associate. The team will be operational by Friday and will provide updates when possible.  

OU CIMMS announces new Director

Greg McFarquhar

The University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies and School of Meteorology announce the addition of Dr. Greg McFarquhar to their staffs.

McFarquhar will be the Director of OU CIMMS and School of Meteorology Professor starting this fall. Randy Peppler has been interim director after former OU CIMMS director and Meteorology Professor Dr. Peter Lamb passed away in May 2014.

"We look forward to Greg leading CIMMS in innovative ways in order to help address future NOAA research challenges in weather radar and mesoscale meteorology,” Peppler said.

McFarquhar comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. He has worked at the university since 2001. He has also served as a visiting faculty fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado from 2015 to 2016.

McFarquhar’s PhD and his Masters of Science are in Atmospheric Physics and his Bachelors of Science is in Mathematics and Physics, all from the University of Toronto.

Director of the National Weather Center Dr. Berrien Moore said, “The University of Oklahoma is delighted to have a gifted scientist and extraordinary leader join the OU family as the Director of the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. The possibilities are endless!”

McFarquhar has been involved with more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, the principal investigator for more than 100 different grants and involved in more than 20 field campaigns.

“After being involved in many different projects at other universities and research institutes over the past 25 years investigating the impact of clouds on various weather phenomena, I am looking forward to broadening my horizons with even more exciting work over the next several years at CIMMS and The University of Oklahoma,” McFarquhar said. “I am especially impressed with the credentials of the amazing people already working here. I hope that I can strengthen and improve the existing collaborations and partnerships already, as well as finding new avenues for improving the observation, analysis, understanding and prediction of weather elements and systems.”

CIMMS was established in 1978 as a cooperative program that unites the scientific and technical resources of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and OU into a center of research excellence. CIMMS was created to support NOAA’s Mission of Science, Service and Stewardship and thereby contribute to NOAA’s long-term goal of building a Weather-Ready Nation that is prepared for and responds to weather-related events. CIMMS research areas include weather radar, hydrometeorology, observations and numerical modeling of high-impact weather including severe storms, forecast and warning improvements, regional climate variations, the societal and socioeconomic impacts of weather and climate, and related subject areas.

Ryzhkov named AMS Fellow

AMS Fellow Ryzhkov

The University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies is proud to announce the American Meteorological Society named an OU CIMMS senior research scientist during a recent release of awards.

Alexander Ryzhkov was one of more than 30 individuals recognized by AMS during a recent announcement of 2018 award winners and fellows. Ryzhkov was awarded the prestigious honor of AMS fellow.

To coninue reading, click here.  

Dr. Homeyer's 3D mapping of individual storm geometries

ozone research by Dr. Homeyer

Stratospheric ozone over the United States in summer linked to observations of convection and temperature via chlorine and bromine catalysis. Read more here!  

Convocation 2017!

We now offer a 5-year accelerated Bachelor/Master Degree!

5-year bachelor/master degree accelerated program

DGES & RCPL now offer an accelerated 5-year bachelor/master degree!

Earn your undergraduate degree in Geography, GIS, or Environmental Sustainabiity while also earning your Master of Regional and City Planning. Learn more by coming to our launch party on

April 12th at 3:30-5:30pm at Sarkeys Energy Center West Atrium. Contact Jamie Steele for details. 405-325-8736

Changing the Narrative of What a Scientist Looks Like

So proud of our own Dr. Ashton Robinson Cook and all he has accomplished!


NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma has been awarded a five-year, $166 million grant by NASA to advance understanding of Earth’s natural exchanges of carbon between the land, atmosphere and ocean.
The primary goals of the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory, led by Berrien Moore, OU Vice President for Weather and Climate Programs, are to monitor plant health and vegetation stress throughout the Americas, and to examine the natural sources and processes that control carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane in the atmosphere.
“To say this is an extraordinary achievement by Dr. Berrien Moore and our research team is an understatement,” said OU President David L. Boren. “The grant is one of the most exceptional in the history of the University and is testimony to the outstanding national stature of our research team. I cannot think of a more exciting way to observe the holiday season than with the announcement of this remarkable grant.”
The mission will launch on a commercial communications satellite to make observations over the Americas from an orbit of approximately 22,000 miles above the equator.
The OU-led geoCARB team will build an advanced payload employing otherwise unused launch and spacecraft capacity to advance science and provide societal benefit.
Mission collaborators include the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California; SES Government Solutions Company in Reston, Virginia; the Colorado State University in Fort Collins; and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Colleagues and laboratories from France, Australia and Mexico also are contributing to the project.
The mission was competitively selected from 15 proposals submitted to the agency’s second Earth Venture - Mission announcement of opportunity for small orbital investigations of the Earth system.

NWC Research Exploration

Dr. Berrien Moore III, dean of the College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences and director of the National Weather Center, discusses how the NWC impacts research and student engagement at The University of Oklahoma.

Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences Events