Some Electrifying Undergraduate and Graduate Research

Pat’s research during undergraduate and graduate studies with the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma focused on radar meteorology and lightning/atmospheric electrification.

During his undergraduate studies, Pat was funded through a NASA EPSCoR grant to investigate the effectiveness of the electric field meter (EFM) network around Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. His research involved examining the false-alarm rate of the EFM network and ways to improve the detection efficiency. This research was used to improve NASA’s Lightning Launch Commit Criteria, which is a set of guidelines NASA uses to determine whether to launch or scrap a launch.

During his graduate studies, Pat was funded by DARPA to research the lightning process using a number of mobile and transportable polarimetric radar platforms. While at two different facilities (International Center for Lightning Research and Testing in Camp Blanding, FL and Langmuir Laboratory in Soccorro, NM), Pat used these mobile and transportable radar platforms to examine the atmosphere coinciding with artificially-triggered lightning attempts.


Current Research

Currently, Pat is a Research Meteorologist with the Currently, Pat is a Research Meteorologist with the Cooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations (CIWRO) as part of the Severe Weather Applications Technology Transfer Team (SWAT) within the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) Warning Research Development Division (WRDD). This group is tasked with developing and testing algorithms and techniques to improve short-term probabilistic prediction and nowcasting to assist forecasters with the warning-decision-making process.

Forecaster in the Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) testing the new probabilistic warning tool

Scientific R&D

As part of an MOU with the NOAA Radar Operations Center (ROC), Pat and the MRMS/Severe Weather Applications Team are investigating Vertically Integrated Liquid (VIL) and Echo Top products to provide recommendations on which products should be available to forecasters within the Open Radar Product Generator (ORPG). These products have tremendous potential not only for diagnosing the severity of storms for the warning-decision-making process, but also for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide advanced notice to those in aviation about weather hazards. This group is also investigating and improving the Hail Size Detection Algorithm (HSDA) used by operational forecasters. This enhancement to the Hail Detection Algorithm delineates the hail category into large and giant hail using dual polarization radar information.

Example midpoint tracking of k-means cluster

Pat and his MRMS/Severe Weather Applications Team are also investigating storm identifying and storm tracking by looking at a large collection of storm cases to develop “truth” datasets. Pat has been investigating manual and automated analyses of storm tracking using several years of Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE) datasets. The automated analysis uses k-means clustering to partition radar observations and uses means to calculate midpoints to compare with the manual analysis.

Research-to-Operations: Hazardous Weather Testbed

The SWAT group is instrumental in leading the Experimental Warning Program (EWP) in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Tested (HWT), a research-to-operations space where the latest and greatest in weather forecasting and warning tools are tested. A number of collaborators and users are invited into this R2O space to test different products, techniques, and algorithms to improve the warning-decision-making process.

Pat works in this R2O space as a project scientist/facilitator on a number of different projects:

HS-PHI Interoffice Collaboration Experiment

Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs), a multi-hazard research program, allows for communication of probabilistic hazard information within a modern, flexible, continuously-updating framework. FACETs represents a fundamental change in the way weather information will be disseminated not only to the public and other users, but also within and between operational National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). This paradigm will also impact the way that WFOs work together for the protection of life and property.

The goal of the HS-PHI Interoffice Collaboration Experiment is to test the collaboration tools within Hazard Services (HS) and compare collaboration strategies within this new software to the current system, especially near County Warning Area (CWA) borders where discontinuities and inconsistencies in messaging can occur. During this experiment, archived weather scenarios that targeted these CWA borders were chosen. Pairs of forecasters from different WFOs were stationed in separate rooms to simulate NWS operations, and their operations were observed. Surveys were conducted after each scenario, followed by intra- and inter-office discussions.

This project was created following an NWS-wide field survey regarding inter- and intra-office collaboration in terms of warning operations, relational and policy considerations, and technological considerations.


Our group is also instrumental in leading the Experimental Warning Program (EWP) in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Tested (HWT). We invite a number of collaborators and users into this R2O space to test different products, techniques, and algorithms to improve the warning-decision-making process.

EWP Radar Convective Applications Experiment

This experiment brings together NWS and DoD forecasters virtually to evaluate and provide feedback on two algorithms under development for the WSR-88D, the New Mesocyclone Detection Algorithm (NMDA) and the New Tornado Detection Algorithm (NTDA). To facilitate this evaluation, activities include the completion of both simulated and real-time weather events using a cloud-based version of AWIPS-II. Participants engage in discussion groups, surveys, and blogging to provide feedback on each algorithm’s usability and effectiveness in detecting mesocyclones (NMDA) and tornadoes (NTDA).

Probabilistic Hazard Information (PHI) Prototype Experiment

This experiment brings together NWS forecasters to evaluate and provide feedback on use and creation of Probabilistic Hazard Information at the warning scale.  To facilitate this evaluation, forecasters complete a series of cloud-based web and AWIPS simulations and also test the creation of PHI during real-time weather across the CONUS in the afternoon.

The Prototype Probabilistic Hazard Information (PHI) Tool is a web-based mapping tool used in the Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT).

This tool serves as a testing ground for PHI-related products and capabilities before they are incorporated into the Hazard Services software in AWIPS2. In order to facilitate a smooth transition of research to operations, the PHI Tool is modeled after the Hazard Services software.

With the tool, one can modify automated object-based guidance or draw objects in order to create PHI, a component of the Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs) paradigm that communicates threat information geographically.

Probabilistic Hazard Information (PHI) Threats-in-Motion Experiment

Traditional Legacy Warning

Threats-in-Motion Warning

This experiment brings together NWS forecasters to evaluate and provide feedback on a new method of disseminating severe weather warnings in which warnings are continuously updating. This is the first evolutionary step of the FACETs-Severe paradigm.

Threats-in-Motion allows for:

  1. Increased average lead times
  2. More equitable and more uniform lead times
  3. Meaningful information about times of arrival and departure
  4. Better response to storm motion changes
  5. Fewer warning gaps

Publications

Coordinated lightning, balloon-borne electric field, and radar observations of triggered lightning flashes in North Florida

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2015GL064203

2015 • Geophysical Research Letters

Correlated lightning mapping array and radar observations of the initial stages of three sequentially triggered Florida lightning discharges

2013 • Journal of Geophysical Research

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jgrd.50660

Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning in 2012 Tropical Storm Debby in the absence of natural lightning

2013 • Journal of Geophysical Research

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2013JD020501

Rocket-triggered lightning strike at the International Center for Lightning Research & Testing in Camp Blanding, FL.

Conference Presentations

  • Analysis of surface electric-field contours in relation to cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in air-mass thunderstorms at the Kennedy Space Center (20th Annual Lightning Detection Conference, Tucson, AZ, 2008)
  • Analysis of surface electric-field contours in relation to cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in air-mass thunderstorms at the Kennedy Space Center (AMS Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2008)
  • Another look at patterns in the surface electric field in relation to cloud-to-ground lightning in air-mass thunderstorms over Kennedy Space Center: False-alarm rates (AMS Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, 2009)
  • The time between first radar echoes and first VHF lightning radiation source locations as an indicator of eventual storm intensity (AMS Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, 2011)
  • Specific differential phase observations of multicell convection during natural and triggered lightning strikes at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing (AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA 2012)
  • Specific differential phase observations of multicell convection during natural and triggered lightning strikes at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing (AMS Annual Meeting, Austin, TX 2013)
  • Stop, Collaborate, Listen: A Survey of Inter-/Intra-Office NWS Collaboration and Impacts for FACETs (NWA Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2020)
  • Evaluating the Hazard Services Probabilistic Hazard Information Software that Supports FACETs at the Warning Scale (NWA Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2020)
  • Forward Together: Experimenting to Envision NWS Interoffice Collaboration during Warning Operations within the FACETs Paradigm (NWA Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2020)
  • Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: A Survey and Experimental Analysis of Inter-/Intra-Office NWS Collaboration and Impacts for FACETs (AMS Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2021)
  • NWS Severe Warning Philosophies across the CONUS: Implications for the Implementation of FACETs (AMS Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2021)
  • Envisioning NWS Interoffice Collaboration during FACETs-Era Warning Operations within the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) (AMS Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2021)
  • Probabilistic Hazard Information (PHI): Integrating Multiple Machine Learning Algorithms for Forecaster and End User Decision-Making during Severe and Hazardous Weather (AMS Annual Meeting, Virtual, 2021)
Lightning Talk for the American Meteorological Society 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting

Field Campaigns

DARPA Nimbus Program

Nimbus is a fundamental science program focused on obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the lightning process, its associated emissions (such as x-rays), and its ionospheric components to better protect troops, ordnance, and other military assets.

Deep Convective Clouds & Chemistry Experiment (DC3)

The Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field campaign is investigating the impact of deep, midlatitude continental convective clouds, including their dynamical, physical, and lightning processes, on upper tropospheric (UT) composition and chemistry. The campaign is making use of extensively instrumented aircraft platforms and ground-based observations.

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