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Climate Change Research at UAlbany Produces Weather Summer Camp for Capital District High School Students

Winter snowfall is important in the arid western states, because winter snowpack provides summer water for agriculture and human use in the region. Furthermore, winter snowpack modifies regional patterns of temperature.The NASA image of Rocky Mountain snow cover at left,was taken March 4, 2012, and the image at right, on March 12, 2014.   (Photos, courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.)  

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 3, 2014) -- Justin Minder, assistant professor in the University at Albany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES), will bring students from several area urban high schools to campus starting in 2015 for a new summer weather and climate change day camp. The camp is one aspect of a $570,640 five-year grant Minder has been awarded from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), given to junior 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. Minder was one of the first hires to support the University’s SUNY 2020 program.

Minder will partner with two high school teachers from Albany and Troy for the new summer camp, where high school students will learn about weather and climate from DAES department faculty and graduate students. Activities will include forecasting, field measurements, laboratory experiments, a trip to the National Weather Service, and a trip to the Whiteface Mountain Observatory in the Adirondacks. The camp is funded through summer 2018.

The camp is part of Minder’s study, The Mesoscale Climate Dynamics of Rocky Mountain Snowpack Depletion. The research goal is to better understand 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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