UAlbany and National Weather Service Extend Research on Extreme Weather Prediction

Renewed CSTAR Project Funding Expands Partnership Over 20 Years

DAES and NWS are working together to better predict extreme weather events that have potential to cause substantial societal and economic disruption in the Northeast U.S.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 25, 2019) – A two-decade research partnership between the University at Albany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) and National Weather Service (NWS) will continue through at least 2022.

The UAlbany-NWS Collaborative Science, Technology and Applied Research (CSTAR) project has been awarded three more years of funding by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Through the project, DAES and NWS will work together to better predict extreme weather events that have potential to cause substantial societal and economic disruption in the Northeast U.S. The research goal is to increase lead-time and improve the accuracy of forecasts and warnings for such events, including summer-time thunderstorms and winter-time snow, sleet and freezing rain.

This is the seventh time CSTAR funding has been renewed, expanding the partnership over 20 years, and into the opening of UAlbany’s Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC), which is scheduled for completion in 2021.

Atmospheric science is one of the cornerstones of ETEC. The $180 million complex will combine UAlbany’s existing research strengths, some of its fastest-growing new programs and innovative entrepreneurial resources in a single state-of-the-art facility, fostering teaching, research and business collaborations.

“This award continues a longstanding training and translational research relationship that the University has with the National Weather Service,” said James A. Dias, UAlbany vice president for research. “Our collaborative relationship provides for a unique educational experience for students enrolled in the program, enhancing student success, a key priority of UAlbany’s strategic plan. These students are not only getting jobs through NWS, but also in the many industries and emergency management efforts that rely on atmospheric and environmental prediction and innovation to mitigate disasters.”

"Over the last 20 years, CSTAR research at UAlbany has had a profound impact on our understanding of weather systems in the Northeast U.S.,” said Raymond O'Keefe, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Albany. “UAlbany's pioneering CSTAR research has expanded our knowledge of small-scale intense snow bands within winter storms. Understanding how these bands evolve and move is essential to predicting snowfall amounts and rates. We at the NWS are excited to continue this long-standing partnership to advance the United States toward being a weather-ready nation."

Graphic of snow fall in the Capital Region following the March 2, 2018 heavy snowfall event.

A surprise heavy snowfall event in the Capital Region on March 2, 2018 was one of the motivations for the latest UAlbany-NWS CSTAR grant proposal. (Graphic courtesy of NWS).

CSTAR represents an effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NWS to spark collaboration between operational forecasters and academic institutions that have expertise in the atmospheric and environmental sciences. Its UAlbany-based project is one of several that are currently active.

This grant will support the research of three UAlbany graduate students who will conduct high-resolution numerical model simulations of extreme weather events to determine which configuration(s) of the model provide the most accurate forecasts.

To verify these model forecasts, high-resolution observational datasets will be provided by the New York State Mesonet, a statewide network of 126 standard environmental observation stations, headquartered and operated at UAlbany. Data from the Mesonet, as well as special observations collected around the Capital District by UAlbany researchers, will help document the spatial variability of weather conditions associated with the region’s complex terrain (e.g., the Hudson and Mohawk River valleys, southern Adirondack Mountains, Helderberg Escarpment, etc.).

“DAES is excited to continue our long-standing partnership with the NWS addressing fundamental questions related to the occurrence and prediction of high-impact weather events in the Northeast United States,” said CSTAR Principal Investigator and DAES Associate Professor Kristen Corbosiero.

“Our new CSTAR grant will continue the legacy of completing operationally focused research, engaging the academic community, providing the NWS with top quality applicants, enabling the involvement of dozens of operational meteorologists from numerous NWS offices, and facilitating the rapid transfer of project results into operational forecasting practice,” she added.

Along with Corbosiero, other UAlbany researchers associated with this project include DAES Professor Robert Fovell, Associate Professors Andrea Lang, Brian Tang and Justin Minder, Center of Excellence and NYS Mesonet scientist Nick Bassill, and DAES Instructional Support Specialist Ross Lazear, who is serving as the NWS and research-to-operations (R2O) liaison.

You can learn more by visiting NOAA’s Albany CSTAR virtual lab.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.