by Anupa Asokan, AMS Education Program

From my past life as an educator, I’m used to misconceptions. In fact, I welcome them as an opportunity for a more impactful “teachable moment.” In the outdoor setting where I once taught marine science, this was usually centered around sharks, which thanks to sensationalist media and works of art like Jaws, I often had the opportunity to spout out some random fact about how you are more likely to die from a falling coconut and hopefully allay the fears of every child forced to listen to me. Now, working with the AMS Education Program, my teachable moments are focused less on sharks and much more on the word “meteorology.”

My first encounter with the word was as a young child watching my local TV meteorologist. Every evening, Bill Quinlan would tell me about the weather. I vividly remember being in awe of the fact that he would be focused on something out in the ether and yet somehow knowingly point at the correct spot on that magical, wondrous, colorful map behind him. If you, a fellow nerd of all things weather, are reading this, you probably have a similar account from your childhood, but as it turns out, the association between meteorology and the weather isn’t something that every person stumbles upon in their lifetime.

Representing the AMS at various conferences and events, I’ve been shown many alleged “meteorites” from people hoping to confirm the extraterrestrial origin of their favorite rock. Most recently, the AMS Education Program participated in the Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., last month. This is a truly amazing production and a dream come true for teachers and lovers of science alike, and we were offering a fun, weather-inspired activity: making clouds in a bottle.

The exhibits were separated into sections by topic. The Earth science section had a cool graphic of a cloud, rain, and a lightning bolt. . . but for some reason it didn’t have us. Instead, we were in the space section–“Astronomy and Space Exploration,” to be exact, represented by a picture of a little rocket. Now don’t get me wrong, it is always cool to be near NASA, but where does this disconnect between meteorology and the weather come from? Certainly, the “meteor” in meteorology has always caused some confusion, and  you could say we “fit” in space—forecasting technology and space weather have roots in the study of the atmosphere. On the other hand, meteorology exists if not to tell us the impact of the atmosphere on our day-to-day lives here on Earth.

So there we were, set up in “space” with our bottles and aerosols, ready to create some clouds and conveniently provided with the perfect teachable moment for 325,000 visitors to Science Fest. That is why we were there, after all, because who else is going to teach the world what meteorology really is, but those of us who love everything that it represents, Earthly or otherwise.


Are you a student looking for a camp that provides more than the typical summertime experience? Something that will excite you about meteorology and STEM careers?  Then weather camp might be the perfect place for you.

There are now more than a dozen summer weather camps for middle or high school students across the country (some are for commuters; others are residential). Along with hands-on experiences, campers can get a glimpse of the various careers associated with meteorology.

“These camps provide an amazing opportunity for students,” says Mike Mogil of How the Weatherworks, an organization that spearheads the camps. “The program works to broaden exposure to meteorology, the physics behind it, and more.  Observation skill building is a key component of many of the camps.Campers are engaged in hands-on activities, field experiments, seminars, tours of research facilities, and other opportunities that expand their knowledge in these areas.”

Programs are run by various groups, including local museums, colleges and universities, and even some student AMS chapters. The camps are designed to encourage all students (with an emphasis on reaching bright, underrepresented populations) to consider science and engineering education in college and to increase the pipeline of talented and focused students pursuing careers in these areas. Partial funding for camps is provided by NOAA and many local businesses.

“The camps are an incredible way to help kids enjoy learning,” comments Mogil, an AMS CCM and CBM who often presents at the AMS Annual Student Conference.. “In the atmosphere of the camps, even the teachers become kids.”

Deadlines for camp registration are quickly approaching. If you are aware of other weather camps not listed here, please share them in the comments section of The Front Page.

If you have any questions about the overall camp program, please contact Mike directly.

National camp page

Lyndon State College – Lyndonville, VT

Blue Hill Observatory – Milton, MA (Weather Programs)

City University of New York – New York, NY

2014 National High School Weather Camps

-           Jackson State University – Jackson, MS

-          University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez, PR

-          Howard University, Washington, DC

University of Oklahoma – Norman, OK

North Carolina A&T, Greensboro, NC (Science & Engineering Camps)

Arizona State University and Arizona Science Center

Museum of Science – Miami, FL

Southwest Florida

Western Kentucky University – Bowling Green, KY

St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO

University of Nebraska – Lincoln, NE

Weather Museum – Houston, TX

Penn State University – State College, PA





{ 1 comment }

Time is running out to submit nominations for more than two dozen AMS awards in the atmospheric and related sciences. The deadline for submission is Thursday, 1 May.

Each year the American Meteorological Society seeks the nomination of individuals, teams of people, and institutions for their outstanding contributions to the atmospheric and related sciences, and to the application of those sciences. That means recognition of achievements not only in meteorology but also oceanography, hydrology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry, space weather, environmental remote sensing (including the engineering and management of systems for observations), the social sciences, and other disciplines.

Twenty-five AMS awards, such as the Carl Gustaf-Rossby Research Medal—meteorology’s highest honor—and the Jule G. Charney and Verner E. Suomi medallions, are available to scientists, practitioners, broadcasters, and others. And every year, you, as AMS members, make the nominations and ultimately determine whose amazing achievements to honor with these prestigious awards.

Descriptions of the AMS awards, including links to the nomination procedure, are available on the AMS website. All nominations must be submitted online.

Sharing the May 1 deadline are nominations for AMS Fellows and Honorary Members. The advancement to Fellow is one of the most significant ways the Society honors those AMS members who, over a number of years, have made outstanding contributions in academia, government, industry, and more.

Submitting a nomination takes little of your time but potentially rewards a colleague enormously.

For those nominations we have received and those to be submitted by Thursday, the AMS thanks you.

Awardees and Fellows will be recognized at the 2015 AMS Annual Meeting.


by Ellen Klicka, AMS Policy Program

Very exciting developments are about to unfold at the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) at Florida Atlantic University: Ocean current energy developments.

Florida-CurrentSAt this week’s AMS Washington Forum, Dr. Camille Coley, Associate Director at SNMREC, will discuss the process her center is pioneering to get the nascent marine hydrokinetic industry off the ground and into the water, so to speak. Coley’s remarks are expected to touch on the realms of technology commercialization, environmental impacts, the federal regulation landscape, public-private partnerships, and the national energy agenda.

Leaders from the weather, water and climate enterprise are gathering for three days in Washington, DC, as they do every April, to discuss pressing issues, identify business opportunities and forge stronger relationships with federal policy makers. Due to the challenges marine hydrokinetics faces, the field serves as an informative microcosm of the multidisciplinary, multi-sector issues the AMS community shares. Such multifaceted explorations are typical of Washington Forum sessions.

Coley says harnessing offshore renewable energy sources could improve U.S. energy security. The oil price spike of the mid-2000s revived the U.S. Department of Energy’s original 1970s interest in what was then a fringe area of science involving the conversion of kinetic energy from ocean waves, tides and currents.

Resource assessments showed Southeastern Florida as a potential goldmine of ocean current resources, and the SNMREC was born in 2007. Wave and tidal energy technologies have seen a slightly clearer path from research to deployment because the action occurs near the shore in waters regulated at the state level, where establishing procedures can be a more nimble process than at the federal level. Currents strong enough to generate energy are found on the Outer Continental Shelf at least 12 miles offshore, in federal waters.

Nearly five years ago, SNMREC began working with the Minerals Management Service, now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), to obtain the first lease ever to be granted to install turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf. Both SNMREC and BOEM charted new territory as they took each step. In addition to applying for the permit under an interim policy set in 2007, BOEM conducted an environmental assessment and ensure compliance. The assessment surveyed areas of planned development for possible negative impacts on sea turtle, manatee, shark, deep water coral and other marine species populations. The Navy, NOAA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA all weighed in. Sensors and cameras have been installed to monitor the condition of the turbines and observe any approaching marine life.

The center expects the final green light this month and hopes to have pilot turbines in the water this year.

Coley notes lessons learned for future applicants seeking a BOEM license. Even with funding boosts from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, tight federal budgets have created challenges for public investment in research, development, pilot deployment and environmental impact checks. Private ocean current energy developers can’t obtain venture capital until the technology is proven. According to the Department of Energy’s Technology Readiness Level scale, which measures the maturity of technologies for application, ocean current energy scores a 4 on the scale from 1-9. Private financiers generally consider investing in technologies at level 8. Where will the money come from to drive ocean current energy up four more points? It’s the classic chicken and egg dilemma that could strand this emerging industry in the “valley of death” unless policy makers intervene.Ocean-Current-TurbinesS1

According to Coley, a federal renewable energy standard, combined with loans or tax credits for marine hydrokinetic energy development, would create demand and a secure market for additional renewable energy capacity.

The credits could be analogous to the production and investment tax credits already established for wind power. Incidentally, the Senate Finance Committee is aiming for this week to begin its consideration of how and whether to extend a bevy of temporary tax breaks that lapsed at the beginning of this year, such as the wind production tax credit (PTC) and other clean energy incentives. To date, no federal incentive bills have been introduced to encourage development and commercialization of marine hydrokinetics.

Coley also recommends a reevaluation of the regulatory process to assist timely project development and ensure appropriate attention to environmental and community safeguards. She says future ocean current permit applicants would benefit from increased collaboration among public and private entities, including the electricity industry, research engineers, aquatic scientists, environmentalists and community stakeholders.

Coley will participate in the Washington Forum’s Water-Energy Nexus panel Thursday, April 3 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm. Can’t make it to DC? Follow the conversation with the hashtag #AMSWF or join the AMS Washington Forum LinkedIn group.


Here’s the third of three posts from Xubin Zeng (Univ. of Arizona) and Peter Lamb (Univ. of Oklahoma), who congratulated Robert Dickinson, Brian Hoskins, and Qingcun Zeng for joining them in the ranks of AMS Fellows by asking a few questions by email. This is the interview with Dr. Zeng:

How did you decide to choose atmospheric science or a related field as your profession?

I was born in a peasant family, grew up in the countryside, and personally experienced the strong impact of climate and weather on the agriculture and human life. When I was a student in the Physics Department of Peking University in the 1950s, several meteorological disasters occurred in China, and there was an urgency to develop meteorological service and research. The university and professors suggested us, at least some of us, to study “atmospheric physics”. Thus I chose atmospheric sciences for the future profession. Meantime, the first success of numerical weather prediction was very exciting; therefore I decided to choose numerical weather prediction as my first subject for research.

Who influenced you most in your professional life?

I am very lucky having very kind parents, excellent teachers and supervisors, and many good friends, as they all strongly influence my life. I can’t express how grateful I am to them.

By precept and example, my parents instilled in me the values of fundamental morals and hard work. My teachers, especially Profs. Y.-P. Hsieh, T.-C. Yeh, and E. A. Kibel’, taught me both the research subjects and methodology. Professors Yeh and Hsieh were important members of the Chicago School, while Prof. Kibel’ was a founder of the Petersburg-Moscow School. Their ideas as well as Chinese philosophy converge in my mind, creating new ideas. Professor J. Smagorinsky showed me how to run a research center when I was a visiting senior scientist at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). Taking this as an example, I established a center of numerical modeling in our institute (IAP/CAS).

Which accomplishments are you most proud of in your professional life?

From a developing country (China), I have been thinking more about how China can learn from and catch up with developed countries in atmospheric sciences. My overall contributions to atmospheric sciences are small. Two pieces are worth mentioning here.

Since 1960s, I have paid special attention to the fundamental physio-mathematical problems, such as the well-posedness of governing equations with proper initial and boundary conditions, the internal consistence of the models written in both the differential and numerical forms, as well as some general features and laws in the rotating fluid dynamics. Some results have been applied to the designs of numerical weather prediction and earth system models in China. These work has also attracted some mathematical scientists to this field.

I have also been gradually involved in the new field of the global change and sustainable development since mid-1980s. I proposed a theoretical framework, the “natural cybernetics”, to try to unify the prediction and regulation of regional atmosphere-environment as a problem of system engineering. This would combine massive observations and practical experiments with mathematical models and numerical modeling. I am looking forward to the future progress in this area by the young generations.

What are your major pieces of advice to young scientists in our field?

Carefully observe and deeply think.

What are your perspectives for future direction of our field?

We have seen the close confluence of atmospheric Sciences and other branches of Earth Sciences with the goals to deeply understand and properly utilize the Earth environmental systems. The weather and climate predictions remain an important subject in the future. In addition, the studies on problems related to planning human activities in order to properly utilize and correctly regulate the natural atmospheric-environmental systems have just started, and should be strengthened.


Here’s the second of three posts from Xubin Zeng (Univ. of Arizona) and Peter Lamb (Univ. of Oklahoma), who congratulated Robert Dickinson, Brian Hoskins, and Qingcun Zeng for joining them in the ranks of AMS Fellows by asking a few questions by email. This is the interview with Dr. Hoskins:

How did you decide to choose atmospheric science or a related field as your profession?

I never really chose it! After I had started using mathematics to study aspects of dynamical phenomena in the atmosphere it just became clearer and clearer that this combination of a superb system to understand and the practical importance of the subject became more and more what I wanted to continue with.

Who influenced you most in your professional life?

There have been so many it would be invidious to choose one. However, it was Francis Bretherton who started me of on the atmospheric science direction at Cambridge. He gave me the first course I had on applying mathematics to the ocean and atmosphere, had a PhD studentship available on atmospheric fronts, accepted me for it and guided me through the next 3 years.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of in your professional life?

Some of my research highlights; helping the Department of Meteorology at Reading and more recently the Grantham Institute at Imperial develop; my role in the international arena, e.g. WCRP and IAMAS; playing a leading role in the UK in its plans for carbon reduction targets.

What are your major pieces of advice to young scientists in our field?

Enjoy your research. Take a wide interest in the subject and lay the foundation so that you can take the opportunity when it arises to put different strands together in a way no one else has.

What are your perspectives for the future direction of our field?

In my research life atmospheric dynamics has gone from being the tops to being quite out of favour. To make major advances in observing and modeling weather and climate we must develop new frameworks of understanding that focus on phenomena, and the dynamics interacting with the range of physical processes in them.


Xubin Zeng (Univ. of Arizona) and Peter Lamb (Univ. of Oklahoma) congratulated Robert Dickinson, Brian Hoskins, and Qingcun Zeng for joining them in the ranks of AMS Fellows by asking a few questions by email. Here is the interview with Dr. Dickinson:

How did you decide to choose atmospheric science or a related field as your profession?

When I was a teenager my interests were broad so my interest in science only developed through science courses I took at Exeter and Harvard, and I ended up my undergraduate career with a double major (chemistry and physics). I went into a meteorology program at MIT as a graduate student because I wanted a career more tied to nature. Unfortunately, I stumbled into doing theoretical studies that gave me little opportunity for the field work I had imagined. However, I had no end of opportunities to work on questions of great interest to me which kept me motivated to this day to continue in atmospheric science related research.

Who influenced you most in your professional life?

This is a difficult question as I am grateful to so many people who influenced my professional career. It would be easier to name “the hundred most”. However, in narrowing it down to one, I have to pick my thesis advisor Victor Starr, since his broad interests and approach to scientific research, as a generally enjoyable and relaxing activity, using theoretical reasoning and observations to reveal and interpret basic physical processes, was conveyed to me at a very impressionable age and so had a strong impact on all my future work.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of in your professional life?

I spent much of my career at NCAR, doing many things, and in the early seventies worked with Steve Schneider and others to develop an NCAR climate research initiative, and evolve many of the concepts used today involving climate forcing and feedbacks. That led me a few years later to my learning how to use General Circulation models and to a recognition that their land part was their weakest component, given its overall importance in the system. My consequent efforts to make a better such component model forced me to learn all I could learn about vegetation and leaves. To do this forced me to borrow concepts from many people and learn the need for extensive interdisciplinary activity to be able to make meaningful progress on such a model.

What are your major pieces of advice to young scientists in our field?

Making successful progress in research requires a lot of long hours and hard work so it must be fun for you to put in the effort needed.

Your work will have a much bigger impact if communicated and recognized by many people. You need to write effective papers and to give good oral presentations to have such impact and recognition.

What are your perspectives for future direction of our field?

I think young scientists are better able to answer this than I, so I only suggest a framework: the most important future directions will involve some combination of advancing basic science, responding to societal needs, and employing new technologies. I think at least two of these characteristics are needed for a future direction to be important.



Some AMS Annual Meeting attendees may have been surprised when Andy Revkin pulled out his guitar at the Presidential Forum on Monday. Maybe they didn’t know that Revkin is an accomplished songwriter and performer who has already recorded an album. But they certainly appreciated that singing about the perils of flash flooding in Colorado is a way for Revkin to show by example what he means when he writes:

. . .the gap between information and impact can also be substantially reduced (without a large financial cost) simply if more scientists and scholars, and their institutions, think creatively about ways to expand their communication circles and pathways.

Even for those of us who can’t croon, Revkin’s advice should not fall on deaf ears. This year’s meeting provides many examples of scientists with a penchant for creative communication. We’re thinking of, for example, the weather wordsmiths who came up titles like “Science with a Vengeance” and “Confessions of a Faculty Convert”; who came up with terms like “CubeOpera, ” “Consensus Gap,” and “Extreme Citizen Science.” Or who are willing to do this in a parked car to demonstrate the dangers of heat.

Qingcun Zeng is one of our many talented community members who can go the extra mile for creative climate communication. Zeng is one of the three newly anointed AMS Honorary Members who will be honored at tonight’s banquet (more on all of them, shortly, in this blog). His research interests have ranged from general circulation modeling to climate change, but his abilities as a poet and translator fit perfectly with the ongoing discussions here about thinking a fresh ways of talking about science and nature.

Here is a selection of his verse (the first two of the set of four shown in his elegant calligraphy and then in translation below). We hope it motivates you to do a little “extreme communicating” of your own:


Four Seasons in Beijing Suburb
Qing-Cun Zeng
1. Early Spring
Spring blooms just on the Equinox,
Tender yellow leaves of young grass appear over moist soil near creeks.
Northerly gusts blow away depressive russet flowers from high poplar’s branches,
While peach trees by the warm southern wall of houses,
are happily in blossom like glittering red dress.
2. Thunderstorm in Summer
Darkening sky and deep rumble of thunder stop my writing,
Suddenly appears heavy rain, rotating wind, followed by clear sky.
It is a wonderful moment to look around and see far into the horizon,
An endless vision of blue mountains and green fields.
3. Deep Autumn
Lotus leaves are harvested, with their broad roots for a delicious dish,
The golden color and fragrant smell of rice fields follow the cool westerly wind.
Innumerable high-flying cirrus arrays cast no shadows on the ground,
The majestic blue mountain ranges are ready to receive the tired setting sun.
4. Auspicious Snow in Late Winter
There was a lunar halo with faint moonshine last night,
Heavy snowflakes like innumerable goose plumes,
filling the sky the following morning,
As the snow begins to melt I feel even colder than during snowfall,
But my heart is warm with excitement about the prospect of a good wheat harvest.



Listening to interesting presentations from experts, encountering new ideas, chatting with old friends, and meeting new ones. This doesn’t have to stop in Atlanta: AMS local chapters provide the same networking opportunities and learning experiences all year long. Fortunately, the AMS Annual Meeting is a great time to find out more about them.

Local chapters have been a part of the American Meteorological Society’s framework almost from the beginning, with the first chapter formed in Boston in 1929. Whether you are a meteorology student or a professional, AMS chapters offer a superabundance of opportunities, from community outreach projects that further AMS goals, to engaging presentations from scientific leaders, to interactions with others in the profession. The likes of Louis Uccellini, director of the NWS; Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center; Ginger Zee, Good Morning America meteorologist; Bryan Norcross, Weather Channel meteorologist; and Bill Murtagh, program coordinator for the Space Weather Prediction Center have all captivated hundreds of members at local chapter meetings.

Local Chapters are active in many other ways. Members participate in

  • student-run television weather shows
  • collaborations with emergency managers to develop newspaper articles and storm safety tips
  • tours of local news stations and NWS offices
  • public school programs aimed at encouraging 
ethnically diverse 
students to pursue STEM degrees
  • mixers for networking with meteorologists in all sectors of the field
  • conferences such as the Annual Northeastern Storm Conference (which is in its 39th year)

This week at the Annual Meeting check out the Local Chapter poster display in Hall C3 and read about each chapter’s history and recent activities. You can also stop by the Local Chapter Booth at the AMS Resource Center in the Exhibit Hall (Booth 415) and take a look at a map showing the locations of each chapter. With 64 regular chapters and 74 student chapters throughout the US and Puerto Rico, there is bound to be a local chapter near you.

If you are unable to attend the Annual Meeting this year, worry not. Visit the Local Chapter Website at for more information, the Chapter Facebook page at, or contact the Local Chapter Affairs Committee at



Congratulations to the Iowa State University chapter, the 2012-13 Student Chapter of the Year (above), and the North Florida chapter, the 2012-13 AMS Chapter of the Year (below).



Saving the planet is a cooperative effort, says William Hooke of the AMS Policy Program. It will also take some humility, scientific savvy, a willingness to act on limited information, and an understanding of when to approximate and when to be precise. It also means dealing with a world of chaos–in short, it means thinking like a meteorologist. Hence, Hooke’s newly released AMS book,  Living on the Real World: How Thinking and Acting Like Meteorologists Will Help Save the Planet.  real_world

“It’s very easy in management to think that what you’re doing doesn’t matter very much,” he says. But, like the atmosphere, the slightest fluctuations have a significant impact and managers in science should consider Lorenz’s butterfly effect. “The littlest thing that I do has ripple effects that expand out and change the world forever,” he says. “That’s an important thing for every one of seven billion people to embrace. Otherwise, we feel we get lost, we’re insignificant in the scheme of things.”

Hooke sat down with BAMS Editor in Chief Jeff Rosenfeld to discuss the book and the importance of collaboration in meteorological research and even management; the whole interview can be found here. Stop by to meet Bill and get a copy of Living on the Real World at the book signing event at the AMS Resource Center in the Exhibit Hall during this afternoon’s poster session, 2:30 PM – 4 PM. Copies are limited, so it’s first-come, first-served, but the book will be released soon and available at the AMS Bookstore.