Getting to Know You: Anjuli S. Bamzai, AMS President

Anjuli Bamzai

Anjuli Bamzai took up the position of AMS President January 28, 2024, at the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society. In her day job, she is a Senior Science Advisor on Global Climate Change in the Directorate for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She has also worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Atmospheric and Oceanic Research and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Dr. Bamzai has served as an Embassy Science Fellow in Seoul, South Korea, and Cairo, Egypt; as the U.S. Government reviewer for the IPCC AR4; and on the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee for the third National Climate Assessment. Among other degrees, she has earned PhDs from George Mason University and the Indian Institute of Technology. Read her bio here.

We spoke with our new AMS President about her history, influences, and what to expect at next year’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans!

You have a physics/math background; what drew you to the applied/atmospheric sciences?

In 1927, my maternal grandfather received a scholarship from the then Maharaja of Kashmir to study civil engineering at Harvard University. He was inducted to Tau Beta Pi in 1929. He returned to Kashmir, and rose to be the chief engineer of the state—quite an influential person in his own right in terms of planning and building the infrastructure in the region in the 1930s–50s. Growing up, he was a big influence in our lives in terms of discipline, rigor and the value of education. He actively encouraged his daughters, and later his granddaughters, to pursue higher education. As I entered college, meteorology was not uppermost on my mind; I was fascinated by physics, although of course, meteorology could be considered as physics applied to the atmosphere, ocean, and other Earth System components. All along I was interested in the environment, particularly the upper atmosphere; in the 1980s and 90s ozone stratospheric chemistry received huge attention. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1989 and decades later, we are reaping the benefits and witnessing the healing of the ozone layer. 

As for weather-related childhood experiences, in 1961 when I was in elementary school there was disastrous flooding in the city of Pune, which was close to the town we lived in. Incessant rains for a couple of weeks caused the Panshet dam to burst due to a breach in the construction of its wall; waters fed into Khadakwasla dam that breached as well.  

I remember that day vividly. They let us out of school early; they said the dam had burst and there was flooding. We thought we’d go back home and find our homes just gone. Turned out Khadakwasla where I lived was on higher ground. We could see the breach in the second dam and red, muddy waters of those floods … moving toward the city of Pune and its hapless residents who were caught completely off guard. We had no school for several weeks. A lot of people in Pune faced a lack of drinking water, most of the bridges were destroyed. Several decades later, on my first day at NSF, I met the program director in Hydrological Sciences, Doug James. When he learnt I had lived in Pune, he asked me about the floods. I discovered he had actually come to Pune to study this rainfall event with colleagues at the Central Water Research Institute. It was an outlier event not just in my memory, but for the city and researchers across the globe like Doug!

You often talk about the value of inclusivity in the weather-water-climate enterprise. What are some of the challenges we face in that respect, and how can AMS help?

It’s about creating a welcoming and nurturing space for people who want to participate but may otherwise be facing challenges, be they lack of opportunity thus far, inherent biases in our system and/or individual biases. The aspirational goal is to make our field more attractive so we tap into the talent that is out there. The onus is on each of us to make it attractive, to share our experiences and achievements as well as disappointments.

People make career choices about what direction to take. How do we make the whole weather-water-climate professional ecosystem an attractive proposition to them? First of all I think the atmospheric and related sciences is in itself so interesting. It goes all the way from ivory tower to use-inspired, to application, to services, to tech development … We need exit ramps for people to leave and come back again. Increasing diversity is not only about gender diversity, important as that is. There are so many divides, e.g., rural-urban, socio-economic, minority and underrepresented groups. How do we ensure pathways to fuller participation? There’s also tension between foreign talent and the neglect in nurturing talent within this country. For example, we’re finding that smaller institutions, minority-serving institutions, smaller HBCUs oftentimes don’t have the infrastructure or ready access to federal resources. We had interesting sessions on the topic of broadening participation of the weather, water and climate enterprise at the 104th AMS Annual Meeting at Baltimore.

I want to understand and learn from the DEI assessment that AMS is undertaking. We have to be mindful that each of us is coming in with our own set of experiences. It’s challenging, but I believe that we need to keep striving doggedly with perseverance to create opportunities everywhere, innovation anywhere.

Who are some people who’ve influenced you and your leadership style?

We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. People I admired like Joanne Simpson and Rita Colwell, the first female Director of NSF. They had the grit and determination to keep paving the way. They are like RBGs in our fields! They are right there at the top for early-career women to read about and draw inspiration from. Dr. Colwell has written a book, A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science, and Jim Fleming has written the book, First Woman: Joanne Simpson and the Tropical Atmosphere.  

When I came to the United States I was fortunate to train/work with Dr. Jagadish Shukla and his group at the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies. Dr. Shukla’s adviser at MIT was Dr. Jule Charney, his advisor was Dr. Carl-Gustaf Rossby. As I look back, it was amazing how I benefited from interacting with the top-notch scientists in our field like Dr. Suki Manabe, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics a few years back with two other climate scientists. I had the good fortune that my life intersected with such amazing people.

Dr. Anjuli Bamzai with Dr. Syukuro (Suki) Manabe and Dr. Anthony Broccoli.

When I joined the government, I had the opportunity to work with some of the best, who were really visionary. For example, Jay Fein, who passed away in 2016, set up some very big, ambitious projects like the Community Earth System Modeling project at NCAR. Ari Patrinos at DOE, Bob Correll at NSF, and Mike Hall at NOAA. I learnt something from each of these larger-than-life people in our field. I know it’s not all about luck, but having said that, I have been fortunate that I did meet some of the greatest. 

In India, my first advisor was kind of a renaissance person as well. He taught me to think big and bold, to seize opportunities from the world but also give back to society when the opportune moment arrives. To be strong about your convictions and proud of your achievements while at the same time being humble. I guess that was the culture that I came from. Certainly one should be assertive and one should speak candidly, while at the same time be open to learn and correct based on feedback. I think that if you let the arrogant side of your nature overcome you, then you’re going to stop learning, you’re going to stop keeping an open mind.

What are some of your priorities for your term as president, and for the AMS as a whole?

At AMS, we all come together as a Society because of a common kinship. For me, sustaining and enhancing a sense of camaraderie and networking amongst the various constituencies is a priority. Within and between the silos of science, practice, or services, there needs to be a lateral sharing of experiences through meetings and/or other events, through our publications. I would want to continue to enhance this so it results in a rich ecosystem which is attractive for the next generation.

The AMS has certain expertise to offer society, and we need to capitalize on the strengths of the AMS for society at large. How do we propagate that value chain through the various jigsaw pieces of an enterprise that is so large, and how do you put the puzzle pieces together so it yields successful outcomes?

The AMS community draws its historical lineage from the atmospheric and related sciences. However, we now know that the atmosphere is just one very important component of the Earth system, interacting with the ocean, the land, ecosystems, geology, and human systems. Understanding and responding to the system on a host of spatial and temporal scales is the grand challenge of our times. That’s the theme of the 2025 AMS Annual meeting in New Orleans. My theme is entitled, “Toward a Thriving Planet: Charting the Course Across Scales.” So local, regional, and global scales, from the weather/hydrology to climate. The state of Louisiana and the Gulf region are confronting problems such as loss of wetlands … so hopefully we will consider those issues a bit, engaging with the local community. 

I know it sometimes feels like unprecedented climate and environmental changes have already descended upon us and it is a hopeless situation. I think we still have to steady ourselves and think objectively about, what can we do best, and how can we contribute with our expertise, our talent pool and resources at hand. We can’t wish these problems away, neither will they be resolved right away. We need innovation, creative thinking, and sound solutions.

AMS 2024 Session Highlight: The Evolution of Observation: How the AMS Measurements Committee Can Better Serve the Community

A Town Hall at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

With measurement techniques and systems rapidly evolving in response to a greater need for precise atmospheric and planetary surface observation, and technological advances allowing for observations of conditions where none were previously possible, there’s a growing need to engage our active AMS community to discuss the future of weather observing. That opportunity comes Thursday morning at a Town Hall by the AMS Committee on Measurements. Information will be presented regarding recent changes to the Committee, its current focuses, and plans for the future. Attendees at the AMS Annual Meeting this week in Baltimore are invited to participate in open discussion and provide feedback. Join us Thursday, 1 February at 12:15 p.m. U.S. Eastern for this session!

We spoke with the Town Hall’s organizer and speaker Andrew Schwartz of UC Berkeley to learn more.

What was the impetus for organizing this Town Hall Meeting?

Andrew Schwartz: We’ve had a lot of changes to our committee over the last several years and want to keep our community informed of what is occurring and what we’re planning. We also want to make sure that we’re accurately responding to the needs of our community and including them in our future activities.

What are some of the challenges that the Committee on Measurements hopes to address?

AS: We want to develop a better understanding of the community’s interests and needs to better guide our activities as a committee and develop more engaging content at our conferences and symposia.

What will AMS 104th attendees gain from the Town Hall?

AS: Attendees of the Town Hall will gain a better understanding of who comprises our committee, the work that we have been doing, and initiatives that we are working on for the future. They will also have the chance to provide feedback on our activities.

Featured image: Snowmageddon snowfall at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, taken February 6, 2010. Washington’s National Airport had 17.8″ while Dulles International Airport measured a whopping 32.4″ from the storm—the first of two intense East Coast snowstorms in less than a week. Image credit: NOAA.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting is exploring the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions explore the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. The Annual Meeting is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with online/hybrid participation options. Learn more at annual.ametsoc.org

Be There: GATE 50th Anniversary Celebration

GATE observing network. (From Zhang et al., 2022.)

Fifty years ago this summer, the most ambitious tropical field experiment ever attempted began along the coast of West Africa. Amidst the backdrop of the Cold War, GATE—the Global Atmospheric Research Program’s (GARP) Atlantic Tropical Experiment—successfully involved more than 5,000 scientists, technicians, and supporting staff from 72 countries in a campaign over the Atlantic Ocean to investigate the structure of the tropical atmosphere with emphases on tropical convective organization and the mutual interaction between convection and the larger scale flow. This enormous achievement will be celebrated Thursday, 1 February, at the 104th AMS Annual Meeting in Baltimore with a Town Hall Meeting, a luncheon, and three scientific sessions.

CELEBRATION EVENTSLocation: Holiday Ballrooms 1-3 (Second Floor, Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor)Times
Town HallThe GATE Experience and Beyond7-8 a.m.
SessionGATE 50th Anniversary Celebration I8:30-10 a.m.
Luncheon*GATE 50th Anniversary Luncheon12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
SessionGATE 50th Anniversary Celebration II1:45 – 3 p.m.
SessionGATE 50th Anniversary Celebration III4:30 – 6 p.m.
*The Luncheon is a ticketed event. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased through the Annual Meeting registration

The celebration includes GATE veterans who will share their experiences in planning and executing the field program, as well as speakers reflecting on how their careers were influenced by GATE and how other tropical field experiments followed GATE’s footprints to advance the science of tropical atmospheric convection and air-sea interaction. Visions for and planning of future tropical field experiments will also be discussed.

To learn more, we reached out to co-chairs Andrea M. Jenney of Oregon State University, Chidong Zhang of NOAA’s PMEL, and Terrence R. Nathan of UC Davis who provided the following responses.

What was the impetus for organizing this Town Hall Meeting and these sessions (aside from the 50th anniversary)?

To provide a platform for the Gaters (GATE veterans—only a few of them are still with us and they are in their 70s–90s) to tell the community how this historic field campaign was planned and executed, how it shaped the careers of the students and postdocs who participated, many of whom became leaders of our field, and how its impressive legacy continues to influence research today.

Who are the celebration events designed to attract and why?

Everyone, from the Gaters to current early career scientists who may have benefited from GATE but don’t know much about it.

What about the GATE observations make them an unmatched legacy in the atmospheric sciences?

It revolutionized our view of tropical deep convection from isolated hot towers to organized mesoscale systems.
The data have been used since to guide global model parameterization of atmospheric deep convection. It mobilized the international community to work together toward a common goal on an unprecedented and unsurpassed scale.

What has GATE taught us about conducting field research?

Political conflicts do not have to hinder scientists from working together. GATE took place during the Cold War, which left a substantial mark on it (GATE had to be relocated from the Pacific to the Atlantic). Nevertheless, scientists from both the East (including the USSR) and West came together, collaborated, and jointly conducted the field campaign.

Big science needs national and international collaborations and coordinations. No single funding agency or single country could support GATE on its scale. GATE has since remained as the grandest tropical field campaign in the atmospheric sciences ever.

Doing excellent science requires passions and fortitude. As the Gaters will attest to during this event, they went through tremendous hardships during GATE but they loved what they did and they met unanticipated difficulties with humor.

What will AMS 104th attendees gain from the town hall and sessions?

Some untold history of GATE. Many stories and personal reflections from the Gaters. How GATE inspired scientists of new generations. How the research community has continued the GATE legacy and is planning to visit the original GATE site in the Pacific that had to be abandoned because of geopolitics at that time.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting is exploring the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions explore the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. The Annual Meeting is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with online/hybrid participation options. Learn more at annual.ametsoc.org

Be There: Estimating Wind Speeds of Tornadoes and Other Windstorms

Tornado photo

By James LaDue, NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Division (symposium co-chair)

Did you know that the AMS is co-branding a standard with the American Society for Civil Engineers and that you can be involved as a member? For the past several years, both organizations have signed together to develop a standard on wind speed estimation for tornadoes and other severe storms. To learn more about this standard, and the methods it’s developing, the standards committee on Wind Speed Estimation is hosting a symposium this Thursday at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting, aptly named “Estimating Wind Speeds of Tornadoes and Other Windstorms.” In this conference you will learn more about how you can be involved in the process.

Ever since the EF scale was implemented in 2007, damage surveyors found reasons for improvement. They formed a grassroots stakeholder group in 2010 and published a paper in 2013 highlighting areas needing improvement. Then after the Joplin, MO tornado of 2011, an investigation led by NIST recommended that a committee be formed to improve the EF scale. But that’s not all there was to estimating wind speeds. New methods were maturing quickly to estimate winds in severe storms: methods such as Doppler radar, tree-fall patterns left behind tornadoes, probabilistic wind speed analysis forensics, multispectral passive remote sensing, and in-situ observations. Many of these methods can also be applied to other windstorm types.

The committee on Wind Speed Estimation, begun within the ASCE in 2015, is devoted to refining all of these methods into an ANSI standard (American National Standard).  Comprised of engineers, meteorologists, architects, forest ecologists, an arborist, and an emergency manager, we are now deep in the internal balloting phase of the standard’s individual chapters. While the ASCE provides the logistical support for our committee, the AMS was added and the standard co-branded under both organizations. The process by which a standard forms is one of the most rigorous vetting processes known in the STEM fields and often can take a decade or more. We’ve been conducting internal ballots for several years, and this may last a couple more. Once the internal balloting phase is over, the standard goes to a public comment phase.  

The Wind Speed symposium is designed to let you know how and why we have this standards process, how the methods are designed in the standard, and how you can be involved, especially when the public comment period commences. We have a panel discussion at the beginning to give you a chance to engage with the committee, followed by more in-depth presentations on the methods. There are also oral and poster presentations regarding new science coming out that could provide more advances in the standard and its application. We hope to see you there! 

Featured image: Photo of tornado with dust cloud near power lines in Matador, TX, taken 21 June 2023. Image credit: James LaDue.

The Estimating Wind Speeds of Tornadoes and Other Windstorms Symposium will be held Thursday, 1 February, 2024 at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting, in Baltimore and online. Learn more about the Symposium and view the program.

AMS 2024 Session Highlight: WRN Asks “What If…?”

Graphic: WRN Asks "What If...?"

Since 2013, the AMS Symposium on Building a Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) has brought together meteorologists and other Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise partners to discuss efforts in advancing what it means to be “Weather-Ready.” At the 104th AMS Annual Meeting, for the second year in a row, the WRN Symposium will be opening their program Monday morning at 8:30 AM ET in Baltimore with a special, interactive session: “WRN Asks: What If…?” We spoke to one of the program chairs for this Symposium, Trevor Boucher from the National Weather Service, about why this session is unique and why AMS attendees might want to check it out.

What’s so special about this session, and how did it come about?

Trevor: The design and discussion are both very different from a traditional 12-minute presentation or panel session. Weather Ready Nation Symposium was created shortly after the National Weather Service introduced the WRN Initiative as a forum to share lessons learned, successes, and best practices. After a decade of this pursuit, several recurring themes arose: How do we, the Weather Enterprise, target underserved and vulnerable populations? How do we communicate our science effectively? How do we focus on our publics/partners while also maintaining our own well-being? These provocative questions are not easily addressed through the traditional paradigm of science conferences. Last year, the 11th WRN Symposium looked to an interactive, collaborative strategy to address big societal challenges, hosting a special session called, “WRN Asks: What if…?” which embraced the concept of “transformative learning.” We shifted the focus to collective, group discussion, and critically reflecting on what we’ve all learned since 2013.

This year’s “What if…?” session not only fits into the Annual Meeting’s “Living in a Changing Environment” theme but intentionally asks the provocative “elephant in the room” questions that are difficult to have in a traditional session. We designed this session as a “reverse panel,” where moderators provide a 3-minute “state of the science” with respect to their backgrounds and propose an open-ended, “What if…?” question to the audience. Then their role shifts to moderating audience discussion for the remainder of their 20-minute slot. So you might see notable names on the agenda, but they do the least amount of talking. The audience are the true panelists, sharing their opinions, their knowledge, and their concerns about these questions.

Where did this idea come from?

Trevor: To be honest, the design inspiration and name largely came from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There is an animated series with the same name that explores how certain character storylines would progress in alternate scenarios or timelines. What would the implications be if certain details of these characters changed? Additionally, the show Black Mirror on Netflix is another inspiration, exploring how some seemingly inevitable technological advancements like AI or cybernetic implants may change our society. Similarly, we wanted to explore “What if…?” scenarios around how our science may look if things progress, change directions, or stay the same.

One of last year’s discussion moderators, Dr. Justin Sharpe, helped us also understand how this style of discussion fits very nicely into the concept of Transformative Learning (Mezirow, 1995, 2000) and engendering critical reflection of the audience. For the chairs, this also helps us reflect on how we craft our scientific discussions each year in our program. The single, double, and triple-loop deutero learning model (below) applies to both the audience and the chairs simultaneously.

Deutero Learning: Single, Double and Triple Loop Learning where single-loop learning is primarily related to considering one’s actions — such as improving efficiency; double-loop learning questions priority-setting, such as how solutions are determined (Argyris and Schön, 1978); and triple-loop learning questions underlying values and assumptions, asking, for example, what our goals may be (Sharpe, 2018, 2021, Sweiringa and Wierdsma, 1992).

The goal for this year’s session is to inspire the following year’s call for abstracts. We will be taking notes on everything discussed from the audience and planning follow-up sessions called “What’s Next?” based on the discussion. We hope people will be excited to contribute to these discussions for years to come.

How did the first “What if…” session go last year?

Trevor: Exceptionally well. Even though it was the first time we tried this and it was the opening Monday morning session of the Annual Meeting, with a LOT of competition for the membership to choose from, we had about 40-50 folks and had no problem with participation. In fact, we had to cut discussions off for all four questions proposed. I honestly think everyone who attended spoke up at some point through the 90-minute session.

My favorite part was an idea from Doug Hilderbrand, the creator of the WRN Symposium. He asked all the students in the audience to raise their hand, and promised they would be prioritized in the discussion, since these topics are likely what they will be grappling with throughout their upcoming careers.

What’s in store for attendees this year?

Trevor: Four new moderators with four new questions! And we have become a bit more emboldened to ask even more provocative questions this year. Some of them are excellent examples of #HowtoStartaMetFight (a popular Twitter hashtag from years ago). I personally can’t wait to see where the discussion takes us. The questions include…

“What if all weather information was probabilistic?”
Dr. Sean Ernst (OU’s Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis)

“What if there wasn’t a stigma when talking about climate change?”
Jared Rennie (Research Meteorologist – NCEI)

“What if we didn’t change anything?”
Dr. Tanya Brown-Giammanco (Director – NIST Disaster and Failure Studies)

“What if there was no ego in the weather enterprise?”
Matt Lanza (Managing Editor – Space City Weather)

I’ve been on all our coordination calls and dry runs with these folks and we have had to cut short our 90-minute meetings each time because we just can’t help but discuss these important questions — and that’s just 6-7 of us. I really think AMS attendees will find it to be an invigorating way to begin their week in Baltimore.

Read more about the session.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting will explore the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions will explore the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. The Annual Meeting will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with online/hybrid participation options. Learn more at annual.ametsoc.org

AMS 2024 Session Highlight: Transition to Carbon-Free Energy Generation

A line of wind turbines

The AMS 2024 Presidential Panel Session “Transition to Carbon-Free Energy Generation” discusses crucial challenges to the Energy Enterprise’s transition to renewables, and the AMS community’s role in solving them. Working in the carbon-free energy sector on research and development including forecasting and resource assessment, grid integration, and weather and climate effects on generation and demand, the session’s organizers know what it’s like to be on the frontlines of climate solutions. We spoke with all four of them–NSF NCAR’s Jared A. Lee, John Zack of MESO, Inc., and Nick P. Bassill and Jeff Freedman of the University at Albany–about what to expect, and how the session ties into the 104th Annual Meeting’s key theme of “Living in a Changing Environment.” Join us for this session Thursday, 1 February at 10:45 a.m. Eastern!

What was the impetus for organizing this session?

Jared: With the theme of the 2024 AMS Annual Meeting being, “Living in a Changing Environment,” it is wonderfully appropriate to have a discussion about our in-progress transition to carbon-free energy generation, as a key component to dramatically reduce the pace of climate change. But instead of merely having this be yet another forum in which we lay out the critical need for the energy transition, we organized this session with these panelists (Debbie Lew, Justin Sharp, Alexander “Sandy” MacDonald, and Aidan Tuohy) to shine a light on some real issues, hurdles, and barriers that must be overcome before we can start adding carbon-free energy generation at the pace that would be needed to meet aggressive clean-energy goals that many governments have by 2040 or 2050. The more that the weather–water–climate community is aware of these complex issues, the more we as a community can collectively focus on developing practical, innovative, and achievable solutions to them, both in science/technology and in policy/regulations. 

Jeff: We are at an inflection point in terms of the growth of renewable energy generation, with hundreds of billions of dollars committed to funding R&D efforts. To move forward towards renewable energy generation goals requires an informed public and providing policy makers with the information and options necessary.

Required fossil fuel and renewable energy production trajectories to meet renewable energy goals. Graphic by Jeff Freedman, using data from USEIA.

Since now both energy generation and demand will be dominated by what the weather and climate are doing, it is important that we take advantage of the talent we have in our community of experts to support these efforts. We are only 16 years out from a popular target date (2040) to reach 100% renewable energy generation. That’s not very far away. Communication and the exchange of ideas regarding problems and potential solutions are key to generating public confidence in our abilities to reach these goals within these timelines without disruption to the grid or economic impacts on people’s wallets.

What are some of the barriers to carbon-free energy that the AMS community is poised to help address?

Jeff and John: From a meteorological and climatological perspective, we have pretty high confidence in establishing what the renewable energy resource is in a given area. .. We have, for the most part, developed very good forecasting tools for predicting generation out to the next day at least. But sub-seasonal (beyond a week) and seasonal forecasting for renewables remains problematic. We know that the existing transmission infrastructure needs to be upgraded, thousands of miles of new transmission needs to be built, siting and commissioning timelines need to be shortened, and we need to coordinate the retirement of fossil fuel generation and its simultaneous replacement with renewables to insure grid stability. This panel will discuss some of the potential solutions we have at hand, and what is/are the best pathway(s) forward. 

On the other hand, meeting the various state and federal targets regarding 100% renewable energy generation also implicates other unresolved issues, such as:  how will we accelerate the necessary mining, manufacturing, and construction and operation by a factor of nearly five in order to achieve these power generation goals? Not to mention how all this is affected by financing, the current patchwork of … regulatory schemes, NIMBY issues, and a constantly changing landscape of policy initiatives (depending on how the political wind is blowing–sorry for the pun!). And of course, there is the question of the “unknown unknowns!”

What will AMS 104th attendees gain from the session?

Nick: Achieving the energy transition is fundamental for the health and success of all societies globally, and indeed, may be one of the defining topics of history books for this time. With that said, the transition to carbon-free energy will not be a straight line, and many factors are important for achieving success. This session should provide an understanding of the current status of our transition, and what obstacles and key questions need to be overcome and answered, respectively, to complete our transition.

Header photo: Wind turbines operating on an oil patch in a wind farm south of Lubbock, Texas. Photo credit: Jeff Freedman.

About the AMS 104th Annual Meeting

The American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting brings together thousands of weather, water, and climate scientists, professionals, and students from across the United States and the world. Taking place 28 January to 1 February, 2024, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting will explore the latest scientific and professional advances in areas from renewable energy to space weather, weather and climate extremes, environmental health, and more. In addition, cross-cutting interdisciplinary sessions will explore the theme of Living in a Changing Environment, especially the role of the weather, water, and climate enterprise in helping improve society’s response to climate and environmental change. The Annual Meeting will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with online/hybrid participation options. Learn more at annual.ametsoc.org

Be There: The AMS Student Conference

Photo of Melissa Piper, Angelie Nieves-Jimenez, and Dillon Blount seated next to each other.

The 23rd Annual AMS Student Conference, which takes place 27–28 January (immediately prior to the AMS 104th Annual Meeting in Baltimore), spotlights research by graduate and undergraduate students in the atmospheric and allied sciences, as well as offering networking and other career opportunities, presentations from leaders in the field, and the chance to hone important skills. We spoke with Conference Co-Chairs (pictured above, left to right) Melissa Piper of SUNY Albany, Angelie Nieves Jiménez of Colorado State University, and Dillon Blount of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee about what students will gain from the conference experience.

What’s behind this year’s Student Conference theme?

Melissa: This year’s Student Conference theme is “It’s Our Turn: Tackling Our Changing Environment.” We wanted to adapt the Annual Meeting theme (“Living in a Changing Environment”) to align with the rapid, multi-faceted changes students in the atmospheric sciences currently face. As students, our personal environments are constantly changing: we are going to school, moving for internships, and facing the unknowns of post-student life. On the flipside, our generation is entering adulthood in the face of a climate crisis. As we enter the workforce, we will be faced with developing solutions, conducting research, and adapting with our local communities to climate change. We hope that this year’s Student Conference can help prepare students to tackle these complex changes in all aspects of our lives.

What’s distinctive about the AMS 2024 Student Conference, and who should attend?

Melissa: The Student Conference is planned solely for students, by students from a variety of universities, backgrounds, and interests—so the conference is relevant to current students in the atmospheric sciences. There are professional development and networking sessions alongside research presentations constructed with students in mind (so no presentations that require you to have a PhD to understand!). Even better, the Student Conference Poster Session provides all students the opportunity to present their research at a reduced cost compared to the AMS Annual Meeting. A separate conference [also] gives students an opportunity to meet their peers from all around the world. This is especially important because we will all be each other’s colleagues in a few years!

While most tend to think of the Student Conference as being tailored to undergraduate students, we are making conscious strides in ensuring our conference is relevant to graduate students as well. We have sessions geared towards professional development, discovering lesser-known sub-fields in the atmospheric sciences, networking, jumping out of academia, and more!

Angelie: Additionally, the Career Fair on Saturday and Sunday nights is focused primarily providing students with information about internships and graduate school opportunities! We partner up with the Board of Early Career Professionals to bring professional development sessions for all stages.

The Student Conference takes place prior to the bigger AMS Annual Meeting, which can help students loosen up and prepare for the rest of the week and know what to expect. It also can serve as a trial of whether they wish to pursue the atmospheric sciences further.

Dillon: A conference geared towards students is a great way to get the students involved in the overall community of the American Meteorological Society. As students, we can often feel overwhelmed by the larger Annual Meeting and how to build a network throughout the week. This conference provides a great toolbox to use throughout the week to network and build community. This inclusion of students, and the resources gained at the Student Conference, allows students to help shape the future of the AMS.

What events at the conference are you most excited about?

Angelie: I am excited about the new Community Based Science Session which is inspired by what was previously known as the BRAID (Board on Representation, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity) Session. This year we are focusing on presenting and highlighting the actions taken behind some of the amazing community initiatives.

Dillon: I am most excited about the Sunday keynote speakers! It is not often that students get the opportunity to hear from the top two leaders of the National Weather Service. Ken Graham and Michelle Mainelli’s leadership provides a great insight into what the future of that career field looks like. They are wonderful people, and I cannot wait to hear what they have to share!

Melissa: One of my favorite parts of the Student Conference is the Conversations with Professionals session. This year, we have an incredible lineup of 10 professionals from the private, public, and policy sectors for our students to have informal conversations with—including meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service in Baltimore Mr. James Lee, director of the AMS Policy Program Dr. Paul Higgins, and broadcast meteorologist for WBAL-TV in Baltimore Ms. Ava Marie. It’s a fantastic networking experience!

In Short: Why Attend the AMS 2024 Student Conference?

AngelieDillonMelissa
“The 2023 AMS Student Conference provides a space for students to expand their network, advertise their work and build their confidence as they gain experience in the workforce.”“The student conference provides students the opportunity to explore different careers and opportunities after school whether this includes graduate school or a job. There is a vast amount of experience and advice provided at this conference, from a variety of perspectives from early to late career professionals.”“The Student Conference goes beyond research presentations and the exploration of different careers → it gives you the opportunity to build your toolbox on skills like networking, having a healthy mindset, and technical skills.”

About the AMS Student Conference

The 23rd Annual AMS Student Conference will take place 27-28 January 2024, the weekend leading into the main AMS 104th Annual Meeting in Baltimore. The Student Conference provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to broaden their horizons, cultivate new skills, hear from leaders in the weather, water, and climate enterprise, and network with fellow students and professionals. Attendees also have the opportunity to participate in workshops to help with their professional development, attend the Graduate School and Career Fair to help with planning the next step in their career, and gain valuable experience by presenting their work at the Student Conference Poster Session. Students can attend the conference in person in Baltimore as well as virtually. Learn more and view the program.

Be There: The Kuo-Nan Liou Symposium

Highlighting Key Sessions at AMS 2024

The Kuo-Nan Liou Symposium at the 104th AMS Annual Meeting will celebrate Dr. Kuo-Nan Liou (1943-2021), a giant in the field of atmospheric physics who made crucial contributions in the areas of atmospheric radiation, remote sensing, and the greenhouse impacts of clouds and aerosols. Liou (pictured at right, image courtesy of Penny Jennings), received numerous accolades during his career, including the AMS’s Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal and Charney Award, and he was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team who received the Nobel Peace Price in 2007.

We asked Symposium Co-Chair Ping Yang, University Distinguished Professor and David Bullock Harris Chair in Geosciences at Texas A&M University, about the Symposium and Dr. Liou’s impact. Here are some of his answers:

Dr. Kuo-Nan Liou (image credit: Penny Jennings)

Why are the areas of Dr. Liou’s research so important to understand right now?

As one of the most accomplished atmospheric scientists in the world, Dr. Liou made seminal contributions to atmospheric and climate sciences in many areas, particularly in atmospheric radiation. His radiative transfer model has been widely used in weather and climate models and satellite remote sensing implementations, and thus plays a central role in determining the radiation budget of the earth-atmosphere system and cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions and feedback in a changing world.

Radiative transfer is important because almost all the energy that drives the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean currents originates from the sun. Therefore, the climate of the Earth-atmosphere system is mainly determined by the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere and the surface since radiation is the only mechanism by which the Earth-atmosphere system gains or loses energy.

What can attendees expect from the Symposium?

This symposium honors the legacy of Dr. Kuo-Nan Liou by bringing together researchers to share knowledge, foster collaborations and address current challenges in the fields where Dr. Kuo-Nan Liou left a lasting impact. Attendees, both in-person and virtual, can benefit from gaining insights into the latest research and advancements in these areas. Session topics include “Interactions Among Climate, Radiation, Clouds, Aerosols, and Surface”, “Radiative Transfer Theory & Spectroscopy,” “Remote Sensing of Clouds, Aerosols, and Surface Properties,” and “Light Scattering and Applications.” The Symposium will provide a platform for networking and engaging with experts and a forum for disseminating cutting-edge research findings.

The Symposium will delve into the forefront issues within these research areas. Noteworthy presentation topics include the lidar remote sensing of snow depth and density, sub-millimeter-wave remote sensing of ice clouds, Tibetan Plateau snowpack loss and its connection to extreme events, and more.

The first session aligns with the central focus of the 2024 AMS Annual Meeting, “Living in a Changing Environment.” It features invited speakers Drs. Ruby Leung, Dennis Hartmann, V. Ramaswamy, Zhanqing Li, Jonathan Jiang, and Yongkang Xue. 

How did Dr. Liou influence the fields of atmospheric and climate science?

Dr. Liou’s work left a profound mark on the atmospheric and climate sciences due to his seminal contributions to radiative transfer, atmospheric optics, cloud-aerosol-radiation-climate interactions, and remote sensing. He was a pioneering researcher who demonstrated that atmospheric radiation should no longer be consigned to the fringes of meteorology, but instead should take a central place in the new world of climate science.

His book, “An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation,” now in its second edition (with the first edition published in 1980), has been an invaluable resource for students and researchers around the world studying atmospheric radiation and its applications in climate science and remote sensing. Accepting the Rossby Medal in 2018, Prof. Liou talked about how his own early-career exposure to books like Chandrasekhar’s “Radiative Transfer” and Born & Wolf’s “Principles of Optics” spurred his innovations. For example, his simplified solutions for understanding solar and heat energy transfer problems, and his application of geometric optics to understand the scattering, absorption, and polarization properties of soot aerosols and irregular ice crystals.

He also humbly thanked his graduate students at the University of Utah and UCLA, saying, “They deserve to share, in equal measure, any recognition I have received, including this great honor from AMS.” We, the organizers of the Symposium, in turn are grateful to Dr. Liou. Along with his exceptional impact on the atmospheric sciences, he was a true role model as a leader and educator.

Kuo-Nan Liou receiving the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal at the 2018 AMS Annual Meeting and celebrating with his family, students, and colleagues. Photos provided by Liou Symposium co-chairs.

The Kuo-Nan Liou Symposium will be held Tuesday, 30 January, 2024 at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting, in Baltimore and online; it will feature invited presentations and a poster session, along with a special luncheon. Learn more about the Symposium and view the program.

Be There: The Daniel Keyser Symposium

Highlighting Key Sessions at AMS 2024

The Daniel Keyser Symposium at the 104th AMS Annual Meeting will advance the science of synoptic-dynamic meteorology and celebrate the contributions of Prof. Daniel Keyser, a multifaceted researcher and educator. Keyser (pictured at right), a Fellow of the AMS and recipient of the AMS Meisinger Award and Lorenz Teaching Excellence Award, is well-known for his seminal work on cold-front updrafts and for co-originating the Shapiro–Keyser cyclone model.

We spoke with Symposium Co-Chair David Schultz, Professor of Synoptic Meteorology at the University of Manchester, about why the AMS community is celebrating synoptic-dynamic meteorology and Daniel Keyser’s contributions to the field. Here are a few excerpts:

Daniel Keyser

How has Daniel Keyser influenced the field of meteorology?

Dan is one of those people who don’t get the attention they deserve. He’s worked on so many things and worked with so many people. Yet he’s done so in a very humble way.

A lot of what we know about cold fronts is from the work that Dan did. Dan’s PhD was about understanding the circulation of cold fronts and the dynamics of that interaction with the boundary layer in driving the updraft air at the leading edge of the cold front. Later, he developed the concepts of vector frontogenesis and partitioning Q/F vectors into front-normal or front-parallel flows, which help us diagnose the frontal-scale circulations and the larger synoptic-scale circulations in which they are embedded. Also, the concept of the Shapiro–Keyser cyclone model is now commonly taught in meteorology programs. The region of high winds called the sting jet, which is common in North Atlantic cyclones that may impact western Europe, only occurs in Shapiro–Keyser cyclones. 

Not only has Dan been a great researcher, but he’s a great teacher at all levels, undergraduate and graduate. Much of my teaching philosophy comes from my time at Albany, from Dan and Lance Bosart. All four of us on the program committee, and so many others, have been influenced by Dan’s education over the years.

The Shapiro–Keyser Cyclone Model, image taken from Shapiro and Keyser (1990).

Give us a few highlights of the Symposium’s program.

The first session gives a perspective on Dan’s career, including Dan’s work on wildfires and how he’s influenced others. Wildfire enthusiasts will want to check that out. The second session is called “Jets and Cyclones,” the meat-and-potatoes of Dan’s work. There will be a number of talks about various aspects of fronts, on the frontal scale but also up to the planetary scale, and how things like predictability and planetary-scale circulations in different climates affect the relationship between things like precipitation and fronts. Then, the third session will feature prominent mid- and senior-career-level people speaking about fronts and frontal circulation, zooming in on the smaller scale.

Session four is about fronts and precipitation, and it closes with Dan’s own presentation. Sub-seasonal effects, precipitation extremes, convection—for anyone interested in severe, hazardous, or extreme weather (for example, the flooding in California), that will be an important talk.

Why is a symposium on synoptic-dynamic meteorology so important right now?

Synoptic-dynamic meteorology is where meteorological research started, and weather forecasts are better because of our research. Now more than ever, people need to understand the dynamics of extreme weather and take a more interdisciplinary approach to weather systems. There’s a lot of hazardous weather out there, losses from weather events are increasing, and of course many people will experience climate change through its impacts on certain weather events. So synoptic-dynamic meteorology still lies at the heart of the problems that humanity faces and learning how to mitigate them. Yet, despite its importance, we’re at this point where we synoptic-dynamic meteorologists have to fight for recognition and institutional support.

That’s one of the things that Dan really wanted to emphasize in his talk at the end of the day: “A Personal Perspective on the Continuing Importance and Value of Doctoral Education in Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology.” His talk will help people outside synoptic-dynamic meteorology see how these talks all day during the Symposium relate to the importance of synoptic-dynamic meteorology and to societal resilience in general.

The Daniel Keyser Symposium will be held Monday, January 29, 2024 at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting, in Baltimore and online; it will feature invited presentations, a poster session, and a dinner with Keyser as the guest of honor. Learn more about the Symposium and view the program.

Irrigation and Storms in the Inner Mongolian Desert

Images from the DECODE project. Clockwise from top left: Microwave radiometer, wind LIDAR, researcher launching rawinsonde, eddy flux observation system, clouds forming at the boundary line, radar image of convective cells initiating along the boundary, photo of supercell storm growing from the boundary line. Photos courtesy of DECODE team.

A Research Spotlight from 32WAF/20Meso/28NWP

An irrigation oasis in Inner Mongolia, China, is providing unusual, real-world evidence about the effects of sharp vegetation contrasts on local and regional weather. Several presentations at the 32nd Conference on Weather Analysis and Forecasting, the 20th Conference on Mesoscale Processes, and the 28th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction (32WAF/20Meso/28NWP) discussed findings from the 2022 DEsert-oasis COnvergence line and Deep convection Experiment (DECODE).

In Bayannur City, on the north side of a bend in the Yellow River, sits one of China’s largest irrigated areas: the 2,200-year-old, 769,333 hectare Hetao Irrigation District (HID), which was recognized as a World Heritage Irrigation Structure in 2019. All around this irrigation oasis is arid and semi-arid land, including the Kubuqi Desert to the south. We know that borders between land and water influence weather patterns, but there has been less real-world evidence gathered about the effects of differences in vegetation—and you can’t find a sharper divide than this one.

Image showing treeless mountains and sparsely vegetated foothills next to flat land. In the center of the photo is a dark green area of vegetation which contrasts sharply with the otherwise brown/tan landscape. A road runs to one edge of the green area. At the very right of the image, in the middle distance, is a large, wide building with a bright blue roof.
Above: Aerial view showing part of the Hetao Irrigation District and its sharp contrast with the surrounding desert areas. Video still courtesy of Yijing Liu. Below: Diagram of the juxtaposition between the boundary and its associated convective initiation (CI) and downstream propagation relative to surrounding terrain in Hetao Irrigation District. Image courtesy of Zhiyong Meng.

When cooler air from the Irrigation District meets warm wind from the desert, an atmospheric boundary line can sometimes be seen on radar. During the summer, convection often initiates at this boundary—sometimes leading to impressive storms that can travel long distances. DECODE researchers used a comprehensive set of observations—from radar and satellite to balloon sondes to flyovers—to examine this phenomenon. Their mission was to understand how the boundary forms and under what circumstances it might create unusual weather.

Different views of the boundary. Images courtesy of Zhiyong Meng.

On average, in the three months of summer each year from 2012 to 2016, 60 days produced a boundary, and 44 percent of those boundaries resulted in convective initiation (CI), noted Zhiyong Meng, of Peking University, in her July 20 presentation during Session 16 of 32WAF/20Meso/28NWP. The DECODE field experiment itself lasted 36 days in 2022, from 5 July to 9 August. With two field stations located on the oasis side, and four on the desert side, the teams were able to observe 23 boundaries and 11 occurrences of deep convection initiation, and even one case of a tornado.

Video still with green agricultural fiels and dark storm clouds in the background. A tornado funnel cloud is seen in the right side of the image. The DECODE project logo appears at the top left.
A tornado documented by the DECODE research team. It was generated by a thunderstorm formed at the boundary line. Video still courtesy of Yijing Liu.
Video still shows a bright bolt of lightning in the far left of the image. In the bottom right, a laser wind LIDAR device sits on a rooftop, pointing in the direction of the storm.
Lightning strike during the DECODE experiment. Video still courtesy of Yijing Liu.

Yipeng Huang, of Xiamen Key Laboratory of Straits Meteorology, outlined the most common conditions leading to a boundary/CI in a 21 July presentation. The researchers found that a boundary is most likely on warm summer days, when synoptic forcing is relatively weak, with dominant southerly winds opposing the oasis breeze, and a temperature over the desert that is apparently warmer than over the oasis. They found that along the boundary line between the two masses of air, convection initiation may occur when enough moist air advects north at the west edge of the subtropical high, moves out over the dry desert, and converges with a cool oasis breeze in an environment with large enough instability. Hongjun Liu of Peking University presented the mechanism for this process in a case study on 21 July.

Diagram of boundary formation and convection initiation near Hetao Irrigation District. Image courtesy of Zhiyong Meng.

Meng described “The most beautiful case, on July 29 [2022, when] the boundary produced a CI and the storm became very strong; it actually produced five-millimeter hail in the eastern part of the oasis.” They were also able to observe another storm as it split into two separate supercells. On July 25, a preexisting storm that passed over the area dissipated somewhat, likely due to sinking air over the oasis, then re-initiated strongly once it reached the boundary/convergence line over the desert. On occasion, the boundary would extend over the oasis and strongly increase the precipitation there.

Radar and photograph images of a large thunderstorm forming along the boundary line in the Kubuqi Desert on 29 July, 2022.

In the presentation immediately following Meng’s, Murong Zhang of Xiamen University noted that the team’s real-time forecasts were able to predict the formation of the boundary line in 21 out of 23 cases, although predicting convection initiation was more difficult. They were only able to predict 6 out of 11 CIs, as the numerical model tended to over-predict surface temperature, but under-predict moisture. The observations obtained from DECODE have been used to effectively improve the surface heat flux over the irrigated area, as shown in a presentation by Xuelei Wang of Peking University on the first day of the conference. You can see more from the DECODE team in this video created as part of the project:

With researchers from many institutions* participating, DECODE is an epic undertaking to study a unique natural phenomenon. As field research pioneer Prof. Edward Zipser of Utah University noted after Zhang’s talk, it’s “a program that we want to hear more about.”     

Group photo of the DECODE onsite team at one of the desert stations. Photo courtesy of Yijing Liu.

*DECODE participating organizations include Peking University, Inner Mongolia Meteorological Bureau, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Xiamen Key Laboratory of Straits Meteorology, Xiamen University, Nanjing University, National Satellite Meteorological Center, Foshan Meteorological Bureau, and Jiangxi Storm Hunting Videos Culture Co., Ltd.

Featured image collage: Images from the DECODE project. Clockwise from top left: Microwave radiometer, wind LIDAR, researcher launching rawinsonde, eddy flux observation system, clouds forming at the boundary line, radar image of convective cells initiating along the boundary, photo of supercell storm growing from the boundary line. Photos courtesy of DECODE team.

About 32WAF/20Meso/28NWP

Predicting and understanding storms and other weather events is a complex business with real-world impacts. The American Meteorological Society’s 32nd Conference on Weather Analysis and Forecasting/28th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction/20th Conference on Mesoscale Processes brought researchers, forecasters, emergency managers, and more together to learn about and discuss the latest scientific developments. The conferences took place in Madison, WI, and online 17–21 July, 2023. Recordings of the sessions are available here.