Laura McGee Wins Grand Prize at Climate Lightning Talks

Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS) PhD Student and OOMG member Laura McGee delivered a talk at the first ever Climate Lightning Talks: Apocalypse Now? How Extreme Weather is Affecting the Southeast and the Globe. Her talk was titled, “Hurricanes Cause Asymmetric Phytoplankton Blooms” and explained how phytoplankton activity is enhanced along the right side of hurricane tracks in the North Hemisphere.

Laura McGee delivers Lightning talk on the asymmetry of phytoplankton blooms along hurricane tracks.

Laura McGee delivers a talk about the asymmetry of phytoplankton blooms along hurricane tracks.

McGee won the Grand Prize after a warm reception by the audience. The Lightning Talks were hosted by USGS Southeast Climate Science Center & NC State University and were held at the David Clark Labs Auditorium.

The event featured twelve speakers from eight departments spread throughout the university. The talks spanned topics from the intricacies of geophysical fluid dynamics to intergenerational conversations about climate change. Speakers ranged from professors to postdoctoral associates to graduate students. The complete list included:

Robert Scheller, Dept. Forestry and Environmental Resources
Ted Simons, Dept. of Applied Ecology
Danielle Lawson, Dept. of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management
Laura McGee, Dept. of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences
Bill Hoffmann, Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology
Samuel Flake, Dept. Plant and Microbial Biology
Eleanor Lahr, Dept. of Entomology & Plant Pathology
James Madden, Dept. of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences
Zamani Atefeh, Dept. of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering
Yuhao Ba, Dept. of Public Administration
Okan Pala, Center for Geospatial Analytics
Bethany Cutts, Dept. of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management

James Madden NCSU

James Madden delivers a talk about the Raleigh flood of 2016.

Fellow MEAS participant James Madden gave a talk explaining how future extreme rainfall events similar to the storm that flooded Crabtree Creek in Raleigh on July 16th, 2016 could be affected and enhanced by climate change.

For more information please contact lightning.secsc@gmail.com.

Hurricane Irma Siphons Water Away from West Florida Coast

An interesting phenomena has been observed in the wake of Hurricane Irma as it moves along the west Florida coastline.  Several images have been put on social media of water drastically receding away from the coastline, whereas tropical storms usually result in surge as they make landfall.

This phenomenon is largely due to 2 factors.  First, the winds ahead of Irma are westward and offshore.  This has the effect of pushing water offshore.  Second, the bathymetry on the West Florida Shelf is characterized by shallow sloping, meaning that a 1 or 2 meter decrease in sea level would result in long stretches of dry seabed.

As this is dynamically driven, it can be observed in our CNAPS model.  The included animation shows offshore winds in advance of Irma’s eye which quickly whip around to onshore.  Offshore winds result in a modeled 2+ meter decrease in sea level, but once the eye passes, sea level rises with a combination of returning coastal water and storm surge.  The National Hurricane Center has been sending out dire warnings to people in the path of the returning surge to stay away temporarily dry seabeds.  Further up the coast, in Tampa Bay, water levels are rising rapidly and surge is already exceeding the Mean Higher High Water (MHHW) levels.

Update: Parts of this story were published on Sept. 12th in the scientific blog Live Science.

Irma Landfall Update, 8-Sept

Our coupled models, initialized at 8pm on September 7th, have completed and are now able to resolve Irma making landfall in Florida sometime between 2am and 5am Sunday morning.  As a result, both the 3 and 7 day runs are capable of resolving the storm and currently point the landfall as occurring between Miami and Homestead (where Andrew made landfall in August 1992).  This is in agreement with last night’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast.  The forecast track has shifted back slightly west since then, but is still within the NHC track forecast cone.

In addition to the 7-day animation shown, here is a KMZ file showing the predicted storm impact on southern Florida 54-hours into our forecast period (early Sunday morning).  Included in the KMZ file are 10m wind + direction, sea level pressure (SLP) + wind direction, sea surface temperature (SST), significant wave height, estimated 1-hr precipitation, and simulated radar reflectivity for 06Z (2am EDT) Sunday morning.  Load the files into Google Earth (available for free) to visualize the data.

We will continue to update as the storm progresses.

Laura McGee receives support from NC Sea Grant/NC Space Grant

NC Sea Grant logo

Many, many thanks to NC Sea Grant and NC Space Grant for their gracious support and funding for my upcoming project, Investigation of Marine Physical-Biogeochemical Interactions During Storm Conditions Off of the North Carolina Coast. This work will use long-term satellite observations, in-situ data, and numerical model analysis to examine and quantify phytoplankton blooms and air-sea carbon exchange due to hurricanes in the North Carolina coastal ocean. Hurricanes induce two competing mechanisms that exchange carbon: first, strong ocean mixing causes the ocean to release CO2 to the atmosphere, in a process called outgassing. Second, hurricanes induce phytoplankton blooms by upwelling deep ocean nutrients to the upper water column. These phytoplankton blooms, through photosynthesis, move CO2 from the atmosphere to the ocean. By examining the contributions of these two mechanisms, my research seeks to shed light on the role of hurricanes on ocean acidification and climate change.

NC Sea Grant has released a news statement about the fellowship here.

Thank you, NC Sea Grant/Space Grant, and I look forward to working on this exciting research!

Irma 7-Day Forecast Updates (Sept 6 and 7)

Over the last few days, the 7-day forecast experiment upgrade has been working well.  Our output from forecasts initialized on the 6th and 7th are largely in line with the forecast models that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has been favoring in their forecast tracks.  We have been utilizing additional resources provided by the High Performance Computing (HPC) center at NC State for our experimental 7-day simulations.  However, the operational 3-day model simulations are our first priority to assess immediate hazards, so these experimental 7-day products take longer to develop.

Here are links to our CNAPS 7-Day Forecast Initialized September 6th and September 7th.

As Irma moves closer to land and becomes a hazard to the mainland U.S. within our normal 72-hour forecast window, we will provide analysis on both products.

Stay tuned.

For Irma, the First Ever 7-Day CNAPS Forecast

Over the last few weeks, we have been working to expand the current CNAPS forecast from 3 to 7 days.  With the appearance of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the peak of the hurricane season on September 10, we were graciously allocated additional computing power from the High Performance Computing (HPC) Center at North Carolina State University to perform some experimental simulations of a 7-day forecast.  We now have a framework to run our CNAPS nowcast/forecast for 168 hours quasi-operationally.

This forecast, initialized at 00Z on September 5, shows Irma entering the CNAPS domain near the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, moving along the northern coast of Cuba, abruptly making a turn to the north to bisect the state of Florida, then weakening over the southeast U.S.  This is in line with several of the national forecast models run at the same time.

Our usual 72-hour CNAPS forecast will run as normal, and we will provide additional experimental analysis and products about Irma as it threatens the U.S.  Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Roy He Serves on Graduate Committee in Norway

Dr. Roy He served on the PhD committee of Ann Kristin Sperrevik at the University of Bergen, in Norway, and attended her defense in June 2017.  Her thesis title is “Modeling coastal circulation in Norway using a high-resolution 4D-Var ocean assimilation system.” Also serving on Ms. Sperrevik’s committee were Dr. Anthony T. Weaver of CERFACS, France, and Dr. Tor Eldevik of the University of Bergen. Dr. Sperrevik defended successfully and is now on staff at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.Drs. Weaver, He, Sperrevik, and Edlevik.

Gordon Research Seminar and Conference

GRC attendees - group

Laura McGee explaining poster at GRS

Laura McGee explaining her poster at GRS

OOMG director Dr. Roy He and grad student Laura McGee attended the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference at the University of New England from June 9 – 16, 2017. Dr. He served as the co-chair of the conference this year, along with Dr. Jack Barth. Vice-chair was Dr. Erica McPhee-Shaw. Laura McGee presented a poster titled “Physical Mechanisms Behind Asymmetric Cooling and Hurricane-Induced Phytoplankton Blooms,” developed from her master’s Thesis research. Congratulations to Laura for winning one of three Best Poster Awards!

Group photo:

Row 1: Antonio Baptista, Rachel Horwitz, Amy Waterhouse, Matthew Oliver, Jonathan Sharples, Maitane Olabarrieta, Ved Chirayath, Erika McPhee-Shaw, Jack Barth, Ruoying He, Alexander Barth, Hans Ngodock, Edward Zaron, Stefan Talke, Caroline Ummenhofer, Andrea Ogston, Joan Kleypas
Row 2: Emily Shroyer, Veronica Ruiz, Rebecca Jackson, Melissa Moulton, Melanie Fewings, Laura McGee, Hugo Bastos de Oliveira, Aboozar Tabatabai, Megan Williams, Christopher Edwards, Ivy Huang, Kurt Nelson, Lars Arneborg, Frode Vikebo, Eric Mayer, Ata Suanda, Michael Jacox, Courtney Harris
Row 3: Robert Hetland, Tracy Mandel, Julia Moriarty, Mary Lee King, Madeleine Harvey, Michelle DiBenedetto, Claudia Cenedese, Haixing Wang, Madeleine Hamann, Michelle Fogarty, Carol Ladd, Emily Lemagie, Frank Colberg, Weifeng (Gordon) Zhang, Gabriela Semolini Pilo, Ganesh Gopalakrishnan, Yan Jia, Qiang Sun, Sung Yong Kim, Xiaodong Wu
Row 4: Cristina Schultz, Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Kristen Thyng, Amala Mahadevan, Bob Chant, Michael Whitney, Lakshika Girihagama, Andre Paloczy, James Pringle, Jennifer Jardine, John Wilkin, George Voulgaris, Emma Reid, Juliane Wihsgott, Jennifer Thomas, Fernando Pareja, Jeff Coogan, Brian Dzwonkowski, Elise Olson, Hally Stone, Raul Flores Audibert
Row 5: Deepak Cherian, Praneeth Gurumurthy, Fei Da, Shih-Nan Chen, Charles McMahon, Yosuke Igeta, Ke Chen, Jacqueline McSweeney, Jacob Partida, Greg Sinnett, Neil Ganju, Steven Lentz, Kenneth Brink, James O’Donnell, Anthony Kirincich, Thomas Connolly, Alfredo Aretxabaleta, Sam Kastner, Kieran Newman, Lixin Qu, Suyash Bire
Row 6: Philip Orton, Dan Nowacki, Joe Adelson, Jordan Snyder, Gregory Gerbi, Geno Pawlak, Sally Warner, Angelica Rodriguez, Anna Lowe, Steven Schmidt, Justin Rogers, Kristen Davis, Albert Hermann, Bryan Flood, Till Hanebuth, Saeed Moghimi, Alexander Lopez, Tarandeep Kalra, Charles Stock, Andrew (Drew) Lucas, Kelly Cole, Claudia Hinrichs

How Oceanographic Model Coupling Works

Model coupling is the connection of several separate numerical models so that output from each model becomes input for the other models. Models exchange information at specified intervals, so that, for example, predictions about the weather affect and are affected by ocean surface temperature, sea surface roughness, heat flux, etc. This allows a more complete and realistic description of ocean conditions than that available from uncoupled, stand-alone models.

Some of the sub-models that can be coupled include models of ocean conditions, weather, sea ice, waves, plankton, and biogeochemistry.

How Oceanographic Models Are Made

Models of ocean conditions are numerical predictions of what the ocean is like at a given time, based on inputs and known physics. The inputs are observations from satellites, moorings, tidal gauges, high-frequency radar stations, and buoys, among other sources. This information is collected daily and fed into the model. The model takes this new data, along with model estimates from the previous calculation, and applies equations of fluid physics to calculate how the conditions at a site will change over a given time period. To describe the conditions of a body of water, the model fills that three-dimensional body with millions of points arrayed in a 3-D grid. It calculates the conditions at each point, based on the point’s previous conditions, observations near that point, and the amount of time from the last calculation.  All these point calculations are the model output, and are often visualized in a 3-D map of the water body.

Upcoming Gulf of Mexico Research Cruise Log Book Now Open

A research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico to support the project Three-Dimensional Gulf Circulation and Biogeochemical Processes Unveiled by State-of-the-Art Profiling Float Technology and Data Assimilative Ocean Models will take place May 1-10, 2017. University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric  Science (RSMAS) is leading the expedition, aboard the R/V F. G. Walton Smith. UMiami Principal Investigator (PI) Nick Shay, NC State University PI Roy He, Dalhousie University PI Katja Fennel, and Peter Furze of Teledyne Webb Research are collaborating on this project  to build a rapid response capability that can be deployed in the event of an oil spill.

Jodi Brewster of RSMAS has posted a blog of cruise preparation, which will continue as a log book as the cruise gets underway. Follow along to learn about how scientists prepare for the intense 24-hour-a-day schedule of research activities onboard the ship.

State of the Sciences at Hunt Library

Laura McGee explaining modeling to a young scientist. Photo by Shun Mao.

Laura McGee explaining modeling to a young scientist. Photo by Shun Mao.

Nabi Allahdadi describing the CNAPS model to an audience.

Nabi Allahdadi describing the CNAPS model to an audience. Photo by J. Warrillow

NCSU’s College of Science set up tables of information and activities throughout Hunt Library on April 21. The Ocean Observing and Modeling Group was represented by Nabi Allahdadi, Shun Mao, Laura McGee, and Jennifer Warrillow. Hundreds of people toured the Library to learn about the science conducted at the university. Nabi, Shun, Laura, and Jennifer had the opportunity to explain ocean modeling in general and the CNAPS model specifically to people of all ages. Surfers, fishers, meteorologists, and others enjoyed learning about the features of ocean models.

Cruise Planning for the Final Push

(Left to right) NSF-PEACH researchers Glen Gawarkiewicz, Harvey Seim (UNC), Magdalena Andres (WHOI), and Mike Muglia (UNC-CSI) examine CTD data coming onto the R/V Neil Armstrong. Photo credit: Joe Zambon

Onboard the R/V Neil Armstrong, OOMG’s Joe Zambon and NCSU Marine Science undergrad Lauren Ball have been assisting with the NSF-funded Processes investigating Exchange Around Cape Hatteras (NSF-PEACH) project. A crucial component of the ongoing cruise is to utilize real-time in situ, satellite, and model data to assist Chief Scientist Magdalena Andres position the ship for crucial measurements while at sea. Joe designed a data pipeline to provide this imagery in a timely manner, with limited internet connection at sea. 24/7 operations means that the work never stops as Joe and Lauren has been working the overnight shift to sample and prepare important data for cruise planning meetings in the early morning. In addition, a concerning forecast for the next few days has extended this analysis to include weather and wave models. Over the next few hours, the crew will be deciding where to head next as a gale is expected to blow through the study region Monday night into Tuesday.

Educational Outreach at Sea

Valerie Winzenried, a retired gifted-education teacher and an education consultant for Eastman, boarded the R/V Neil Armstrong last week. During her time at sea, she has been participating in hands-on research and data analysis along with onboard scientists. In addition, she has been interviewing researchers in order to construct lesson plans in geosciences to educate the next generation of oceanographers. She sat down with OOMG’s Joe Zambon on Thursday night to discuss ocean models, remote observations, cruise planning, and the various methods that have been used to sample the ocean’s physical parameters. It was a great experience for both as their discussion covered a wide-range of possible topics for high school education and opened the door for future communication.

NSF-PEACH Cruise Halfway Completed

Crew and moorings on the deck of the R/V Neil Armstrong. Photo credit: Joe Zambon

Last Saturday (22-April) marked the halfway point of the NSF-PEACH R/V Neil Armstrong cruise with OOMG’s Joe Zambon and NCSU Marine Science undergrad Lauren Ball. While underway at sea, both researchers have participated in research exploring the waters along the continental shelf from Cape Cod, MA to Cape Hatteras, NC. So far, the team has taken advantage of the prevailing calm seas and have deployed meteorological buoys, Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), Pressure-Inverted Echo Sounders (PIES), eXpendible BathyThermographs (XBTs), Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) profilers, hydrophones, Argo floats, autonomous gliders, and have collected and filtered hundreds of liters of sea water from the surface to the sea floor for analysis.