Weather and Climate Camp

Assistant Professor Justin Minder
Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences

This summer, high school students from around the Capital Region will have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the field of weather at a Weather & Climate Camp hosted by the University at Albany's Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES).

Campers will explore the causes of climate change, learn how clouds form, and discover opportunities for education and careers in the meteorology and environmental sciences. (Photo by John Kerstholt)

Campers will spend their days immersed in the world of weather. With guidance from DAES scientists, students will interpret images from weather satellites and radar, learn about weather analysis and forecasting, launch a weather balloon, create "weather" in a rotating tank, and make a cloud in a bottle. The pinnacle of the camp includes a visit to the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center's Whiteface Mountain weather observatory in the Adirondacks, and the National Weather Service's Albany forecast office.

By the end of the session, campers will have learned how to measure wind, pressure, temperature, and humidity; explored the causes of climate change; learned how clouds, rain and snow form; and discovered opportunities for education and careers in the meteorology and environmental sciences.

Justin Minder, assistant professor in the University at Albany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, created the camp with a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. The award is given to faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

All of Gordis’ student lab researchers (approx. 10 undergraduates and 5 grad students) are official volunteers at the club (background checked, fingerprinted, etc).  All research projects go through IRB review at UAlbany.  The students help as volunteers with the youth and assist in conducting research projects. The students help run activities, help the youth with homework, supervise sports and games, and lead clubs and art projects, some of which are pictured here. Working in these roles gives these students great experience working directly with youth and also teaches them about the realities of doing research in partnership with a community organization beyond the walls of the research lab.  Gordis and her students meet weekly as a team to discuss and troubleshoot challenges that are going on in the club and discuss their research projects.

We have immensely talented and motivated faculty in our Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences," said DAES Chair Christopher Thorncroft, "and sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm for weather and climate with our community is an important goal for us. This camp will be the start of many more opportunities to bring young students to the University to expose them to the inner workings of our world."

Minder will partner with high school teachers from Albany and Troy for the summer camp, which is funded though summer 2018.

The weather camp complements Minder’s study, The Mesoscale Climate Dynamics of Rocky Mountain Snowpack Depletion. Its research goal is to better understanding how the snow-cover loss in the Rocky Mountains and other mountain ranges due to global climate change leads to variations in weather and climate in, and near, the mountains.

His work will make use of state-of-the-art model simulations that are capable of demonstrating how clouds, snow, temperatures, and humidity vary over distances of just a few miles. The research will also include high-resolution satellite observations to evaluate how well climate models simulate mountain snow cover.


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