Research

Faculty in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences carry out a wide range of research, organized under three main topics:

Synoptic and Mesoscale Meteorology

This area covers all aspects of "weather" research, including how weather varies on timescales from hours to months. Research emphasis is given to observational, theoretical, and numerical modeling studies of weather phenomena such as cyclones, fronts and jet streams in midlatitudes, and hurricanes, tropical waves and monsoons in the tropics. In response to a new sense of urgency about the impact of extreme weather events, there is an increased emphasis on studying the predictability of the weather on a range of timescales that are important for both the public and private sectors.


Research Topics
  • Tropical Waves and Monsoons Tropical
  • Cyclones and Hurricanes
  • Predictability
  • Fronts and Jet Streams
  • Mountain and Topography Influences
  • Extratropical Cyclones
  • Midlatitude-Tropical Interactions
  • Subseasonal-to-seasonal Variability and Prediction
  • Tropical Meteorology

Climate and Environmental Systems

Climate Sciences within DAES and ASRC conducts research to understand the Earth's global and regional climate system and to assess the effects of climate change caused by both human activities and nature. We seek to improve climate predication capability with observational studies, analyses of observational data, and the development and application of climate models. Our expertise is rapidly growing and currently touches on the following areas: 1) tropical climate variability and hurricanes, 2) African monsoons, 3) regional and global climate changes, 4) hydroclimate and the global water cycle, 5) radiation and remote sensing, 5) land-air and air-sea interactions, 6) aerosol-climate interactions, 6) climate observations and data analysis, and 7) weather and climate interactions.


Research Topics
  • Land-air and air-sea interactions
  • Regional and Global Climate Variability and Changes
  • Climate Modeling
  • Radiation and Remote Sensing
  • Weather and Climate Interactions
  • Hydroclimate and the Global Water Cycle
  • Climate Observations and Data Analysis
  • Glacier-Climate Interactions
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Tropical Climate Variability and Hurricanes
  • Climate Observation and Data Analysis
  • Climate Chemistry Interactions
  • Troposhere-stratosphere Interactions

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

Atmospheric Chemistry is the study of the sources, sinks, and transformations of chemically active gases and particles in our atmosphere. Of particular interest to DAES researchers are the emissions and chemical processes that produce air pollution. Air pollution can have adverse effects on human health, can cause environmental degradation, and can affect climate and the earth's energy balance. These atmospheric and air pollution challenges can range from the global scale, as is the case with stratospheric ozone depletion; to a very local scale, as might be the case with high concentrations of wood smoke pollution pooling in a cold mountain valley on a winter night.

Research in these areas at DAES and ASRC involve the study of chemical and physical processes impacting the fate of anthropogenic and biogenic emissions and their effects on air quality, the climate system, and global cycles of atmospheric species. The atmospheric chemistry group specializes in measurements of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols; especially those involved in ozone production and airborne particulate matter. Another major area of research is aimed at developing instrumentation for the measurement of chemical composition of the atmosphere, primarily the more reactive species. We are also involved in modeling research to assess the historic relationships between planned and actual changes in emissions and pollutant concentrations, to identify avenues for the development of an objective, dynamic air quality planning framework. Another group is using sophisticated atmospheric chemical models to study the interactions between clouds and tropospheric chemistry.


Research Topics
  • Thunderstorm Electrification and Lightning
  • Formation of Precipitation
  • Experimental Studies in Aerosols & Chemical Kinetics
  • Remote Sensing
  • Exploration of Regional and Global Chemical Cycles Researchers
  • Cloud Chemistry
  • Modeling of Atmospheric Transport, Transformation and Deposition of Chemical Constituents
  • Spectroscopic Instrumentation for Measurement of Trace Gases and Particles
  • Atmospheric Electricity
  • Cloud and Fog Microphysics
  • Solar and Wind Energy
  • Atmospheric Radiation

Research Collaborations

The department partners closely in its research with the Atmospheric Science Research Center (ASRC), with access to extensive resources at both ASRC and the National Weather Service, co-located on campus.

Opportunities for multi-disciplinary and cross-sector research collaboration are also expanding with the development of the Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (E-TEC). This innovative center will be a hub for emerging technologies and entrepreneurial leadership. E-TEC will bring together academic research centers with industry partners to accelerate cooperative R&D, technology transfer, business development and workforce training.

Facilities

The Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science’s research and teaching facilities are among the most advanced in the nation. The synoptic-dynamic program is supported by a fully equipped state-of-the-art electronic Map Room. The Map Room includes displays of live satellite, radar, and other observational data, together with model forecasts from around the world. The room is used for teaching and weekly weather discussions, and as a venue for students to hone their forecasting skills.

Computing Facilities

The Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences computing facilities are made up of a diverse blend of Sun, Linux, Windows, and Mac computers along with associated printers, networking, storage, and display facilities. User home directories, research disks, scientific software, and real-time and archived geoscience data are hosted on disks served by a NetApp Network Attached Storage (NAS) system. The NAS provides for seamless access from any networked computer, typically via UNIX Network File System (NFS) or Windows Common Internet File System (CIFS). This NAS provides 21 days of backup access. The NAS sits in the University’s Data Center, which opened in 2015. The NAS is also backed up regularly to a facility located at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. Most PI’s own one or two Dell Precision workstations that are also housed at the Data Center. These workstations have anywhere from 16 to 40 cores with 16 to 128 GB of RAM. Internal disks on these workstations are intended for system and scratch space. Additionally, all user home directories are backed up nightly to a 14 TB capacity Sun tape library in the building which houses department offices. There are still several legacy computing servers that run on Oracle (formerly Sun) hardware and use the Solaris operating system. A Sun Enterprise 280 serves as the department’s web server machine. PI’s and their graduate systems typically have a desktop and/or laptop computer that can perform lower-end computing tasks as well as allow access to computing servers and NAS housed in the Data Center.

The department also partners with UAlbany’s Research IT (RIT) group. This partnership provides access to a DAES-funded Linux computing cluster with 32 Infiniband-connected nodes and 1024 cores. Each cluster node has 256 GB RAM and access to over 75 TB of connected storage; this cluster is also housed in the Data Center. Each PI also has access to 5TB of RIT-provided storage. Most PI’s have a printer (color or mono) in their office, and graduate students can access several public printers.

Real-time meteorological data (point, satellite and radar, and gridded NWP) are pulled from upstream (NCEP and other sources) servers via Unidata’s Local Data Manager (LDM) software. Data is served via the traditional NFS and CIFS means, and also via OpenDAP servers which run THREDDS and/or RAMADDA. Increasingly, faculty and students are using OpenDAP clients such as NCL, GrADS, IDV, and Python to access data stored either on DAES or remote OpenDAP servers.

The NAS is connected directly to the University 10Gb/s fibre backbone. Other servers in the data center are connected to the backbone at 1 Gb/s via switched hubs. There is a 10Gb/s fibre connecting the DAES building to the data center. In the DAES, desktop workstations are connected at either 1Gb/s or 100 Mb/s as needed. UAlbany is connected to the Internet with OC-3 commercial service, along with Internet2.

The department also has access to the supercomputing facilities of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado for use in research projects of truly intense computational nature. The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences computational facilities are maintained and supported by two full time systems administrators who both have backgrounds, and graduate degrees, in Atmospheric Sciences.

Map Room

The department's state of the art Map Room provides convenient access to the data, and facilitates both formal and informal discussions. The department also has a computational server that is capable of running atmospheric simulations, programs and software for support of research and instruction. These facilities are available to both graduate and undergraduate students who are participating in either course work, research or forecasting.

Field Stations

In addition to excellent on-campus research laboratories and computer facilities, we operate several field stations. An atmospheric observatory (Mohawk Tower) is available on campus for use in research projects undertaken by ASRC scientists, DAES faculty and students. This observatory, which recently has been extensively refurbished, commands a 360 deg view of the surrounding area from the 23rd floor of Indian Quad dormitory.

Laboratory Facilities

Laboratory facilities include the Fluid Inclusion Laboratory, located in ES-350. It was established in 2001 with equipment acquired on long-term loan from the Department of Geology at the University of Vermont. The lab contains a Fluid Inc. heating/freezing stage, a Nikon Optiphot binocular transmitted light microscope, a Doric Trendicator 410A digital temperature readout, a Javelin JE3362 TV camera, and a Sony PVM-1390 color video monitor.

The Geochemistry Laboratory, located in ES-342, is used for both research and teaching. It was renovated in 1999 by faculty and students, with funds from an NSF CCLI grant which included matching funds from the Department and the University. It contains two fume hoods, glassware, drying ovens, balances, and other standard equipment.

The rock sample preparation laboratory, located in the ES-B09, contains various pieces of equipment for crushing, grinding, and pulverizing rock, soil, and sediment samples. The rock saw and thin section preparation laboratories (ES-B08) contain several rock saws of various sizes, as well as polishing equipment.

We have an extensive collection of rock and mineral samples, thin sections, and crystallographic models located in ES-237. This collection is used primarily for teaching.