Vernon R. Morris, Principal Investigator & Director

1. Executive Summary

Howard University’s NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) has been awarded $2.625M for year one and 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 began year two with two AEROSE field campaigns performed in collaboration with NOAA AOML scientists. These cruises collect data that is critical to improving global modeling in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and serve as ground-truth measurements for NOAA satellite sensors. The Social and Behavioral Science projects continued to strengthen connections with NOAA’s Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services. New funds have been leveraged and new NCAS students and faculty have been integrated in efforts to improve NOAA communications to traditionally underserved communities. NCAS expanded collaborations with other Cooperative Science Centers (CSC) with new interactions with the Living Marine Resources CSC and the Center for Remote Sensing and Technology at CUNY through joint research and outreach programs. NCAS student production and training continues to thrive with nine students moving into candidacy or completing all requirements for their advanced degrees in NOAA sciences. The NCAS-sponsored Color of Weather Networking and Diversity mixer was a featured event at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Austin, Texas. NCAS-sponsored students made their mark on the two largest professional meetings (the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and AMS) during this reporting period.

The following semi-annual report details the activities conducted during September 1, 2012 – February 28, 2013. As NCAS enters its second year of its third five-year cycle, we are pleased to report achievements in both education and research. 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:

Achievements by Program Students
  • Six (6) Successful Dissertation/Thesis defense
  1. Nelsie Ramos – HU (PhD)
  2. Esther Effiong – HU (PhD)
  3. Fernando Becerra-Davila – UTEP (PhD)
  4. Nancy Rivera Rivera – UTEP (PhD)
  5. Javier Polanco – UTEP (MS)
  6. Gino Davis – UTEP (MS)
  • Three (3) Successful Proposal Defense
  1. Crystal Adkisson – HU (PhD)
  2. Tatiana Gonzalez – HU (PhD)
  3. Charlene Lawson – HU (PhD)
  • Dereka Carroll: Presently pursuing a Masters degree at Purdue Univ., her undergraduate research on hurricane vulnerability was given prominent attention in national news media (CNN, Christian Science Monitor, etc.) during Hurricane Isaac. Dereka graduate from JSU with a B.S. in Meteorology in May 2012.
NCAS Student Highlights:
  • AMS Conference in Austin, TX
    • Jessica Fullilove (JSU NCAS Fellow) attended Student Conference
    • Caleb Johnson (JSU NCAS Fellow) presented poster: “Extreme Analysis Differences between the ECMWF and GFS Models”
    • John P. Moore (JSU NCAS Fellow) attended Student Conference
    • Hope-Anne Weldon (JSU NCAS Fellow) presented oral: “Toward a Better Understanding of Tornado Fatalities”. The presentation (A.1.3) was highlighted on the conference blog (
    • Christopher Wilson presented poster: “The Effects of Particulate Matter 2.5 μm and Ozone on Climate and Health”
    • Characterizing Spatial Patterns and Climatology Trends using Monthly Rainfall Rates in Manila, Philippines – Karreta Venable and Vernon Morris
    • Hurricane Force Winds in Extratropical Cyclones: a Modeling and Observational Study – Benjamin Albright

Outreach Highlights

NCAS students and staff teamed with the NCART Doppler on Wheels at the AMD Conference in Austin, TX at the 2013 WeatherFest. The NCAS AEROSE team co-hosted a facilities tour aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the conclusion of the 2013 PNE/AEROSE cruise.

  • The NCAS-UPRM’s graduate student Myrna J. Santiago is leading the training activities on radiosonde launches taking place at the University of Puerto Rico as part of the study entitled “Improving short-Range

tropical weather forecasting in the Caribbean using enhanced upper air radio soundings at Mayagüez, Puerto

Rico”. This initiative is run by the NCAS program at Howard University in collaboration with the Atmospheric and Meteorology Program at UPRM. Dr. Hector Jimenez, Program’s director, is the supervisor of the undergraduate students conducting this research. Trainees are Lizxandra Flores, Christie Torres, Alexandra Ramos and Karimar Ledesma. Lizxandra was an Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology Summer Intern at the Bio-Optical Oceanography Laboratory in 2011. Alexandra and Karimar participated in the PR Weather Camp initiative in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

  • Weather Camper 2009 Accepted to Summer Internship at Texas A&M – Karimar Ledesma was recently

selected for the REU Summer Program 2013 at Texas A&M University. In the past she participated in NCAS UPRM Summer Internship Program in 2011 and the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) Summer Internship Program at Washington State University in 2012. Karimar is also a 2009 Weather Camper. In her own words “my participation in the Puerto Rico Weather Camp was what finally motivated me to focus my college studies in meteorology”. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Physics at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. Her plans for the future include continuing graduate studies in one of the various areas that interest her such as space meteorology, atmospheric chemistry and environmental chemistry.

  • New NCAS Fellow, Maria Cardona, joins Roy Armstrong in the doctoral program in Marine Sciences at UPRM
  • New NCAS Fellow, Keren Rosado, joins HU in the doctoral program in Atmospheric Sciences
  • New NCAS Fellow, Travis Washington, joins HU in the doctoral program in Atmospheric Sciences
  • New NCAS Fellows, Adam Greeley; Eric Hackert; David New, joins Xin-Zhong Liang in the doctoral program in Atmospheric and Ocean Science at UMD

Strategic Partnerships and Leveraged Funding

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

  • NOAA NWS/ASOS CL31 Testbed: Toward Ceilometer Lidar Network – $210,000 (Belay Demoz)
  • NOAA OAR Assessment of Air Quality and Climate Research and Applications – $114,000 (Vernon Morris, Terri Adams-Fuller)


  1. Liang, X.-Z., M. Xu, X. Yuan, T. Ling, H.I. Choi, F. Zhang, L. Chen, S. Liu, S. Su, F. Qiao, Y. He, J.X.L. Wang, K.E. Kunkel, W. Gao, E. Joseph, V. Morris, T.-W. Yu, J. Dudhia, and J. Michalakes, 2012: Regional Climate-Weather Research and Forecasting Model (CWRF). Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00180.1.
  2. Stockwell, W. R., R. M. Fitzgerald, D. Lu, R. Perea, 2013: Differences in the variability of measured and simulated tropospheric ozone mixing ratios over the Paso del Norte Region, J. Atmos. Chem.,       Accepted in Press.
  3. Goliff, W. S., W. R. Stockwell, and C. V. Lawson, 2013: The Regional Atmospheric Chemistry Mechanism, Version 2, Atmos. Environ., 68, 174-185.
  4. Sarwar, G. J. Godowitch, B. Henderson, K. Fahey, G. Pouliot, W. T. Hutzell, R. Mathur, D. Kang, W. S. Goliff, and W. R. Stockwell, 2013: A comparison of atmospheric composition using the Carbon Bond and Regional Atmospheric Chemistry Mechanisms, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 6923-6969.
  5. Valenzuela, V., R. M. Fitzgerald, H. Yang, W-W Li, 2012: “ Photochemical Modeling for the City of El Paso”, Report Rider 8 Program reviewed by Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, TCEQ, Dec.2012.
  6. Published Book Chapter: Marı´a de Lourdes Romo Aguilar, Timothy W. Collins, Sara E. Grineski, Raed Aldouri, Rosa Fitzgerald, Paula Ford, Gilberto Vela´zquez-Angulo, Cambio climático en la evaluación de la vulnerabilidad a riesgos ambientales en ciudades de la frontera México-Estados Unidos, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, BC, Mexico.
  7. Acosta, M. D., T. E. Gill, E. F. Tavizon, and S. S. Solis, 2012: Tormentas de Arena. Hoja Tecnica Ambiental de El Colegio de Chihuahua 7, 12 pp., ISBN 978-607-8214-11-2.

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

Download Full Report

NCAS SAR September 1, 2012 to February 28, 2013