Vernon R. Morris, Principal Investigator & Director

Executive Summary

Howard University’s NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) has been awarded up to $15 million over five years by the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct research and educational efforts in weather, climate, air quality, and environmental literacy.  NCAS, a consortium of six educational institutions led by Howard University, has been supported by core funding from the Department of Commerce since 2001. The partner schools are Jackson State University, the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Texas El Paso, State University of New York Albany and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.

NCAS year two has been very productive.  NCAS hosted a successful annual meeting in which faculty, scientists, and students from each academic institutional partner of the Center came together with NOAA Scientists and stakeholders and shared research results, discussed projects status, and explored opportunities for research to operations and research to applications.   The meeting was intense and focused on a great number of high-level issues with the science, education, and training programs.  In addition, NCAS held its first External Advisor Board meeting with its new compliment of members on March 4-5, 2013.  The new board represents an excellent complement of academia, government and private industry professionals.  Overall, the Board was impressed with the Center and provided relevant feedback and guidance to assist with the continued growth of the Center.

The following semi-annual report details the activities conducted during March 1, 2013 – August 31, 2013.  As NCAS finishes its second year of its third five-year cycle, NCAS is pleased to report achievements in both education and research.  Specifically, the Center graduated three (3) PhD students and one (1) M.S. student during this performance period.  For this performance period, there were 38 students in the pipeline.  Of those 38 students, 28 were graduate students and 10 were undergraduate students.  In addition, the Center is pleased to report that through its K-12 initiative, the Center has mentored to over 600+ students during this performance period thru Science fests, school visits, and tours of NCAS research facilities.   The Center maintains robust collaborations and educational partnerships with the NOAA National Weather Service National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), Office of Operational Service (OOS), and various Weather Forecast Office (WFOs), OAR (Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) scientists), and National Environmental Satellite, Data & Information Service (NESDIS) (research and joint publications).   Several of the highlights from this reporting period are listed below.

Highlights and Major Accomplishments

Educational Milestones

NCAS educational component centers on Ph.D. production in key disciplines of Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology (HU, SUNYA, JSU, and UIUC), Marine Sciences (UPRM), and Environmental Sciences (JSU and UTEP).  NCAS funds are used to support student training at undergraduate and graduate levels in these disciplines and other basic sciences, including chemistry, biology, engineering, and physics.   Our efforts have historically produced positive impacts at our MSI partner institutions and we are strengthening efforts to make greater impacts at our majority institutional partners.  Some of the educational highlights of this reporting period include:

Success Stories

NCAS Successful Dissertation/Thesis Defense:

  • Graciela Garcia-Moliner (Advisor: Dr. Roy Armstrong) successfully defended her Dissertation titled: “Satellite remote sensing characterization of fish spawning in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands” on May 7, 2013.  Dr. Garcia-Moliner received her doctoral degree in Marine Sciences from University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.
    • Crystal Adkisson (Advisor: Dr. Carolina Stroman) successfully defended her dissertation titled: “African Americans Use of Social Media in Weather-related Crisis Situations” on April 16, 2013.  Dr. Adkisson received her doctoral degree in Communication and Culture from Howard University.
    • Maria Velez – Quinoñes (Advisor: Drs. Vernon Morris and Broderick Eribo) successfully defended her dissertation titled: “Study of Viable Airborne Bacterial Populations in Mali using Phenotypic and Phylogenetic Characterization” on April 19, 2013.  Dr. Velez-Quinines received her doctoral degree in Biology from Howard University.
    • Porfirio Peinado (Advisor: Dr. Thomas Gill) successfully defended his dissertation titled: Geochemical Characterization of Mineral Dust sources in the Chichahuan Desert and Southern High Plains Regions.  Dr. Peinado received his doctoral degree on May 2, 2013 in Environmental Science and Engineering.
    • Michelle Dovil (Advisor: Dr. Terri Adams) successfully defended her thesis titled: “The Protective Actions and Evacuation Responses during Hurricane Katrina: A Gendered Analysis” on April 11, 2013.  Ms. Adams is currently pursuing her doctoral degree under the direction of Dr. Terri Adams at Howard University.

NCAS Successful Proposal Defense:

  • Mayra Oyola (Advisor: Dr. Everette Joseph) successfully defended her Doctorate proposal titled: “Atmospheric Aerosol Impacts on Data Assimilation and Medium Range Forecast:  Analyzing Satellite Temperature Retrievals over Dust-Laden Fields in the Northeast Atlantic” on March 20, 2013.  Ms. Oyola is pursuing her doctoral degree in Atmospheric Sciences at Howard University.
  • Hanisha Hirani (Advisor: Dr. Qilong Min) successfully defended her Master’s proposal titled: Evaluating Drought in the United States Using the Emissivity Difference Vegetation Index on June 28, 2013.  Ms. Hirani is pursuing her master degree in Atmospheric Science at the State University of New York Albany.
    • Jose Tirado (Advisor: Dr. Vernon Morris) successfully defended his doctorate proposal titled: “Particulate Matter Modeling in San Juan, Puerto Rico during Wet and Dry Season Episodes” on March 13, 2013.  Mr. Tirado is pursuing his doctoral degree in Atmospheric Sciences at Howard University.

NCAS Bachelor of Science Recipients:

  • John Moore (Advisor: Dr. Loren White) received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Jackson State University on May 3, 2013.  Mr. Moore is currently employed as a meteorology student trainee at the Memphis WFO Tennessee.
  • Jessica Foxworth (Advisor: Dr. Loren White) received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Jackson State University on May 3, 2013.
  • Marcus Hereford (Advisor: Dr. Loren White) received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Jackson State University on May 3, 2013.

NCAS Student Highlights:

  • New NCAS Fellow, Benjamin Johnson, joins Xin-Zhong Liang in the doctoral program in Atmospheric and Ocean Science at UMD.
  • New NCAS Fellow, Jose Rivas, joins Thomas Gill in the doctoral program in Ecology at UTEP.
  • Fernanda Ramos, UPRM undergraduate student, participated in a NOAA Experimental summer internship at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey working under the supervision of Dr. Vaishali Naik and Dr. Larry W. Horowitz from the Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Group at GFDL.  Her work entitled Influence of changes in greenhouse gases (GHGs) and ozone depleting substances (ODS) on atmospheric composition and climate for 1860-2100 emphasized on the application of sensitive simulations of the GDL coupled chemistry-climate model (CM3) to investigate the impact of changes in GHGs and ODS abundances over the 1860-2100 period on atmospheric composition (troposphere and stratosphere) and climate. Her work used CM3 available simulations (i.e. CO2, CH4, N2O, ODS) to observe how the natural emissions of a few species (i.e. NOx, oceanic organic carbon, dust, sea-salt, etc.) vary with meteorology.
  • Keren Rosado, Howard University graduate student, participated in a NOAA Experimental summer internship at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, NJ working under the supervision of Dr. Venkatramani Balaji and Mr. Kyle Olivo.  Her summer project was titled “Detection and diagnosis of Tropical Storms in High-Resolution Atmospheric Models”.
  • Mayra Oyola, Howard University graduate student, participated in the first NOAA Environmental Modeling Center NEMS/GFS summer school (August 2013).  The event was aimed at advanced doctoral students, post docs, and researchers to train users in the art of median range weather modeling with NOAA’s Global Forecasting System (GFS)
  • Mayra Oyola, Howard University graduate student, participated in the 3rd Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation System (GSI) workshop that took place in the NOAA Weather and Climate Prediction Center.
  • NCAS summer intern Valerie Keene from Riverside Community College successfully transferred into a BS program in chemistry at Howard University.  Ms. Keene will continue to work with her summer mentor, Dr. Vernon R. Morris.

Strategic Partnerships and Leveraged Funding

NCAS pursues new collaborations, and is pleased to present to new contracts obtained during this performance period:

  1. NCAS engaged the NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory (GFDL) in an initial partnership during this performance period by sending two NCAS fellows to its laboratory, in an effort to engage in long-term research collaboration that would be mutually beneficial to NCAS and GFDL.  The initial interaction proved to be successful and NCAS is currently pursuing the matter further.
  2. Dr. Thomas Gill was awarded  $20,000.00 from the University of Texas El Paso – 08/22/ 2013 – 05/31/ 2014
  3.  Dr. Duanjun Lu was awarded $10,000.00 from Jackson  state University Scholars Program for the project titled: Advancing the understanding of atmospheric mercury cycling – 06/01/2013 to 05/31/2014

Publications*

  1. Dominguez Acosta, Miguel, Thomas E. Gill, Edith Flores Tavizon, and Sergio Saul Solis, 2012: Tormentas de Arena.  Hoja Tecnica Ambiental de El Colegio de Chihuahua 7, 12 pp., ISBN 978-607-8214-11-2. (in Spanish) http://www.colech.edu.mx/ObservatorioAmbiental/Documents/Hojas%20T%C3%A9cnicas/HT_No.7.pdf (NOT PEER REVIEWED).
  2. Du, J., L. Huang, Q. Min, and L. Zhu, 2013: The influence of water vapor absorption in the 290–350 nm region on solar radiance: Laboratory studies and model simulation. Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, doi:10.1002/grl.50935.
  3. Fan, J., L.R. Leung, P.J. DeMott, J.M. Comstock, B. Singh, D. Rosenfeld, J.M. Tomlinson, A. White, K.A. Prather, P. Minnis, J.K. Ayers, and Q. Min, 2013: Aerosol impacts on California winter clouds and precipitation during CalWater 2011: local pollution vs. long-range transported dust.  Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 19921-19970, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-19921-2013.
  4. Fitzgerald, R.M., A.A. Maradudin, J. Polanco, and A.B. Shvartsburg, 2013: “S-polarized guided electromagnetic waves at a planar interface between vacuum and a graded-index dielectric”, Waves in Random and Complex Media, doi:10.1080/17455030.2013.795253.
  5. Gill, Thomas E., Miguel Dominguez Acosta, Matthew C. Baddock, Catherine F. Cahill and Warren H. White, 2013: The White Sands as a Dust Emission Hotspot.  Proceedings of the White Sands Science Symposium, Learning Center of the American Southwest, USA National Park Service, (INVITED, NOT PEER REVIEWED), published online at http://www.southwestlearning.org/download_product/2233/0
  6. Gill, Thomas E., Miguel Dominguez Acosta, Matthew C. Baddock, Catherine F. Cahill and Warren H. White, 2013: The White Sands as a Dust Emission Hotspot.  Proceedings of the White Sands Science Symposium, Learning Center of the American Southwest, USA National Park Service, (INVITED, NOT PEER REVIEWED), published online at http://www.southwestlearning.org/download_product/2233/0
  7. Jiang, Y., J. V. Cizdziel, and D. Lu, 2013: Temporal patterns of atmospheric mercury species innorthern Mississippi during 2011-2012: Influence of sudden population swings.  Chemosphere, DOI 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.05.039
  8. Stockwell, W. R., R. M. Fitzgerald, D. Lu, and R. Perea, 2013: Differences in the variability ofmeasured and forecasted tropospheric ozone mixing ratios over the Paso del Norte region. J.Atmos. Chem., 70,  91-104
  9. Yin, B., and Q. Min, 2013: Climatology of aerosol optical properties at ACRF sites in the tropical warm pool region.  J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, 2620–2628, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50234.

*NCAS Faculty members are underlined and NCAS fellows are bold.*

Download Full Report

NCAS Performance Report March 1, 2013 to August 31, 2013