Pride Month Spotlight: Progress, History, Future

Clouds with rainbow iridescence

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. We asked a few members of the AMS community to give us their thoughts on pride, community, history, and the path forward. Sign up for the Coriolis Committee’s Ask Me Anything Zoom discussion about being LGTBQ+ in the Earth System Sciences (June 26, 2 p.m.) here.

This is part two of a two-part post. Read Part One to learn more about our contributors — Kandis Boyd, Mike Augustyniak, Jerrica Decker, Tevin Wooten, Declan Crowe, and Brad Colman — and their history with the AMS, LGBTQ+ community and advocacy, and coming out.

Our Pride Month blog post contributors. Clockwise from top left: Kandis Boyd, Declan Crowe, Mike Augustyniak, Jerrica Decker, Tevin Wooten, Brad Colman.

How have things changed for LGBTQ+ people in the field over the course of your career?

Brad: There have been dramatic changes, nothing short of remarkable and beyond my wildest dreams when I was growing up. I was just starting to recognize my own sexuality during the Stonewall Riots in 1969. We now have anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people in the workplace and society. Corporations have been strong agents of change with the adoption of inclusive and welcoming policies. One of the most dramatic changes I have observed, and personally feel is one of the most important, is the gain in visibility and representation of the LGBTQ+ community essentially everywhere one looks: politics, TV, academia, corporate, sports, and in many religions. As AMS president, I was proud to be able to bring my husband, Peter, to the annual meeting in Baltimore and introduce him to the AMS community. These dramatic changes have further enabled a number of supportive networks, like our own AMS BRAID and Coriolis.

Kandis: If you asked me 30 years ago what my career would look like, I would have told you a very different story than what I actually experienced. I’ve experienced more changes than I can count — and that is a good thing. Change is inevitable and the best way to embrace your career is to be prepared for change, embrace the unknown, and be a constant learner to build your skills and experience.

Declan: My professional career started just before the pandemic, and there have definitely been changes that I’ve seen since then. For example, people have been more willing to connect with others online, which has helped foster an inclusive space for those who may not encounter accepting spaces in their lives. Also, the pandemic spurred a huge amount of education about the LGBTQ+ community; it’s easier now than ever to take some time and educate yourself about the different parts of the community!

I’m proud of how far AMS and the weather, water, and climate enterprise has come from the time I’ve been involved. I’m also excited about where we can go to make sure we continue to create and support accepting spaces for everyone, both during this Pride month and in the future.

Declan Crowe (with Brad Colman at far right) addressing a packed room at the 15th Annual Coriolis Reception, held at the AMS 104th Annual Meeting.

Mike: I am fortunate to have the support of all my friends and family, as well as (by and large) the community in which I have lived for the last 15+ years. My way of expressing gratitude for this good luck is to help others by being a resource and mentor, when possible. Others did it for me in the past, and now I feel a happy obligation to pay that forward.

What challenges still need to be addressed, both within and outside AMS?

Kandis: Speaking as a Queer Black Woman, intersectionality is a topic that needs much attention. Individuals who belong to multiple marginalized groups — such as people of color, 1st generation graduates, people with disabilities, people marginalized based on their gender or age, and immigrants — add complexity to the conversation and often face compounded discrimination issues related to their intersecting identities. … There are many places and spaces where LGBTQ+ individuals don’t have the same legal protections, are bullied and harassed, face health disparities, are victims of hate crimes, and as a result are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide. AMS can be a beacon of light and be a voice to the voiceless for these all-important topics.

Mike: Figuring out who you are, and coming out if you wish, is a challenging but life-affirming experience for many, though some pay a heavy price for it. As the majority, members of the straight community need to be just as vocal and active in their efforts to improve the environment and rights of the members of the LGBTQ+ community, as LGBTQ+ members are. To quote Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Tevin: I feel that AMS should be more proactive and vocal in advocating for minority communities. I acknowledge that AMS is standing up for marginalized individuals, but we should be much better at also reaching early childhood and high school individuals, and not being solely a sector for working professionals. In order to change the environment, we must seed and water the foundation.

Declan: Historically, many people haven’t realized the fact that all minority communities face a collective struggle, and it is up to us to work together and fight for what is right. I encourage everyone, particularly within the AMS and other professional societies, to educate themselves on the dangers of ignoring intersectionality, as well as how to listen and amplify voices that have typically been suppressed.

Also, LGBTQ+ people face a huge issue when it comes to having their identities respected, especially our transgender/non-binary communities, who often go by names and pronouns that are not respected in professional spaces. Encouraging everyone, regardless of identity, to identify themselves with their pronouns will help normalize proper pronoun (and name) usage. Additionally, AMS at-large and its members can work to actively educate themselves on the different identities that fall within the LGBTQ+ community, so that they are ready to amplify the voices of community members.

Brad: There are still legal inequalities and workplace discrimination issues, as well as unique and critical healthcare disparities and intersectional challenges, where we still need to make considerable progress. One activity from my tenure as AMS president still stands out in my mind: the Transgender, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming, and Ally Event at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Denver. To listen to these brave individuals share their challenges and life journeys was both educational and inspirational to me.

Another area of remaining challenges has to do with global perspectives. We are by nature a global profession. Many of us travel abroad for conferences and field studies. Sadly, members of the LGBTQ+ community face difficult decisions about traveling to places where they may face violence, persecution, and legal sanctions. As such, efforts to promote global equality and human rights for LGBTQ+ individuals remain ongoing and vital.

What advice would you give other LGBTQ+ people in weather, water, and climate-related fields?

Jerrica: My advice is to be your authentic self because there are lots of people in the AMS who celebrate who you are, and be sure to look for Coriolis events at the annual meetings.

Kandis: First: befriend, network, support, and advocate for people both in and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Second, celebrate your identity and be your true, authentic self at all times. 

Third: be visual and educate yourself about all things weather, water and climate – be an inspiration to others.

Declan: Find a community of LGBTQ+ people and allies wherever you can! It’s nearly impossible to deal with the struggles we face, both as individuals and a community. The good thing is, we don’t have to do it alone! Not every space will be accepting, but whenever you can, live your life to your truest form and find the people that are willing to do that alongside you.

Tevin: To other members of the LGBTQ+ people in the weather, water and climate community, I would say to remember why you’re in this field. Ultimately, it should be to protect vulnerable communities. That’s what matters most … let your expertise and experience be your guide.

Brad: First off, everyone should strive to be authentic and respect both yourself and others by embracing diversity. I recognize this is easy to say but not always easy in real life and I encourage anyone who is struggling with the process of coming out to set their own pace and to seek support if they ever feel it would be beneficial. Not everyone need share this information in their professional life, it is a personal decision. I recognize, however, that those who do so play an important role in supporting others either directly or indirectly. Finally, don’t forget that in the current environment, the large majority of our colleagues are supportive allies.

Mike: Having a support network – even if that’s just one other person – makes navigating all of life’s challenges easier. Invest in yourself by building your network!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Kandis: I thank AMS for leading the way to advance the LGBTQ topic for everyone. The Coriolis Committee is sponsoring a webinar to address many of these topics on June 26th – “Ask Me Anything.” I hope everyone takes the time to participate in this all-important topic

Jerrica: To me, pride is about providing a safe place for people to explore and be their authentic selves.

Brad: I’m incredibly excited by how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in the fight for equality and acceptance. While it’s crucial to stand up for our rights and be proud of who we are, it’s equally important to recognize that not everyone may be on the same journey or at the same stage of acceptance. Just as growing comfortable as a gay man was a decades-long journey for me, others in our community and beyond have their own journey and their own pace. We live in a wonderfully diverse world, filled with people from all walks of life, and it’s important that we respect that diversity. Let’s continue to be proud of who we are, [while being] mindful of the impact of our actions on others. Let’s strive to be inclusive, respectful, and supportive of one another, regardless of where we are on our individual journeys. Now, let’s celebrate Pride Month!

Featured image: “Iridescence” by Joshua Intini was an entry in the 2023 AMS Weather Band photo contest.

Pride Month Spotlight: Finding Community

A rainbow over a city, shown from above

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. We asked a few members of the AMS community to give us their thoughts on pride, community, history, and the path forward. This is part one of a two-part post.

Our Contributors

Kandis Boyd 

I’ve worked in the federal government since the age of 19 and will celebrate 30 years of continuous service in August 2024. I’ve held over a dozen positions ranging from meteorologist to hydrologist, program manager, subject matter expert, deputy director, and director. I’ve also held positions in the non-profit sector and academia. I have degrees in Public Administration, Meteorology, [and] Water Resources, and certifications in Project Management (PMP) and Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD). My pronouns are She/Her/Hers and I identify as Queer/PanSexual.

Mike Augustyniak

I’ve been a broadcast meteorologist for WCCO in Minneapolis since 2008, and am an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and Certified Consulting Meteorologist. I’ve also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CBS Evening News, CBS Mornings and the BBC. I received both my Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in atmospheric science from the University at Albany. I am the Outgoing Commissioner on Professional Affairs for AMS. I identify as a gay cis man.

Jerrica Decker

I was born and raised in northwest Ohio. I graduated from OSU with my bachelor of science in 2008 and earned my masters in meteorology from OSU in 2010. I have been a meteorological systems engineer for weatherUSA since 2012. My current work ranges from data management to processing data sources. I am male to female transgender.

Tevin Wooten

I’m currently a morning meteorologist at NBC Boston. I have degrees in broadcast journalism from the University of Arkansas and a meteorology major from Florida State University. Previously, I worked with The Weather Channel as an on-camera meteorologist. I identify as gay and use he/him/his pronouns.

Declan Crowe

I am a recent graduate of NC State University in Raleigh, NC, with degrees in both Meteorology and Spanish. I’m pursuing a path of Emergency Management, and will be attending Millersville University starting in Fall 2024 to earn an MS in Emergency Management. I’ve performed numerous types of research related to both winter weather and tropical meteorology; my work has been featured in the NASA IMPACTS project and at the National Hurricane Center. I identify as gay and genderfluid, and I use he/they pronouns.

Brad Colman

My background includes a nearly 40-year career as an atmospheric scientist in our public sector with NOAA (both in OAR and NWS) and then about a decade in the private sector, ending with Bayer and the Climate Corporation supporting global agriculture. Currently, I’m the 1st past president of the AMS and actively involved in a number of other boards and volunteer activities. I am a gay male with pronouns he/him. While it took a while for me to come to acknowledge it growing up in the 60s and 70s, I now know this was my identity from early childhood.

What has been your experience working on LGBTQ+ issues, or with LGBTQ+ organizations, within or outside AMS?

Tevin: I’m currently on the Culture and Inclusion Cabinet and the current chair of BRAID. The experience is rewarding but it’s also extremely taxing. We are attempting to rewrite several decades of injustice in the weather, water and climate enterprise. Our job is to now interpret and apply forecasts to marginalized communities that have been traditionally overlooked. In my work life, along with meteorology and forecasting, I report climate stories with an environmental justice lens.

Declan: I am currently the Chair of the AMS Coriolis Committee. I came into this role in January, after working with the Committee for a year before. I’ve been very happy to work with such a great group of people who are all dedicated to improving LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance in AMS. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet a lot of LGBTQ+ community members and allies during my time with Coriolis, who have shared the joys and difficulties with me of being LGBTQ+ in the weather, water, and climate enterprise. These connections have served as motivation for me to continue to extend our outreach and promote acceptance of our community in all spaces.

Kandis: I have served on the Coriolis committee for several years and I have also worked with LGBTQ+ teams/committees in and outside of the workplace. As for my thoughts on the experience, it depended on the space: most LGBTQ+ experiences have been positive, but there is still much work to do because a large sector of our community opts to remain anonymous for safety reasons. The Coriolis group is a great group and I hope that their work will filter into all aspects of the AMS community — using pronouns, all gender bathrooms, and addressing workplace bullying and harassment. Yes, some meetings and events fail to be LGBTQ+-inclusive.

Brad: I have tried to be both supportive of, and be involved with, LGBTQ+ issues and groups in the AMS. It was one of a few personal priorities I set for myself moving into my role as president. We are very fortunate that the AMS has been very proactive in this area. We have the Culture and Inclusion Cabinet, BRAID, and Coriolis. In contrast to my concerns years ago about who might see me at a gay event, I am now both excited to be there and to see many allies from our broader AMS enterprise there as well. At our recent Annual Meeting in Baltimore, I was privileged to speak at the 15-year celebration of Coriolis. Seeing the huge turnout from AMS members of all ages impressed upon me the value of the steady work so many people in our community have done over the decades. 

Jerrica: I am involved with AMS Coriolis and I am on the board for my hometown pride organization. I have done some work with advocacy.

When did you come out in your professional life? What made it easier/harder?

Brad: For me, coming out, especially professionally, was a decades-long process. Through graduate school and my early NOAA career, I only shared this private information with my closest and most trusted colleagues. As I became more comfortable being gay, I expanded my “in-the-know” community. This was challenging and tiring — Who had I told? Who knew via the grapevine? What was I risking by telling? Nonetheless, I was very fortunate and, my personal growth aside, I never felt I experienced discrimination. Eventually I was comfortable sharing this detail with colleagues and friends, and perhaps more importantly, I began to recognize that I might be helping others by sharing this aspect of my life with my professional community.

Kandis: I told myself that I would wait until I reached a certain level in my career before outing myself. I think that was the biggest mistake I made during my 30+ year career, because for so much of my life I led a dual life and constantly had to code-switch to assimilate. It is physically exhausting constantly reshaping your thoughts and actions to meet others’ expectations. So my advice to everyone is to show up and be your true authentic self from Day 1.

Mike: As for many, my coming-out process started in my personal life – family, friends, and eventually co-workers – and occurred over some months. During that process, I found it more challenging to tell long-term acquaintances my truth because, in my mind, I was asking them to readjust their understanding of who I was in a pretty major way, and with very little notice. While peoples’ reactions were almost universally positive and accepting, the process was still stressful for me. Consequently, at the age of 30, when I moved away from my hometown and first two jobs as a broadcaster, I decided to treat my new job and new city as a clean slate – starting from day 1 as “out.” This decision was absolutely the right one for me, and for my new home, where I can proudly represent the LGBTQ community in a very public and positive way.

Jerrica: I came out to my business partner in 2018, and he was very accepting.

Tevin: While I’ve always identified as queer, I came out mid-early career. This was strategic but also out of fear. Because my career is public facing, coming out has made it much easier to relate to viewers and my audience, and show that it’s okay to be my authentic self.

Declan: I’ve been lucky to have been out my entire professional life, but to varying levels depending on the situation. One of the things that has made being out easier has been surrounding myself with LGBTQ+ community members and allies who contribute to supportive and uplifting spaces. Obviously I’m not able to do this all the time, but when I do, I find that I am able to thrive both personally and professionally. In the same token, being around closed-minded individuals often makes it harder to express myself fully, particularly when these individuals have a lot of sway in my future career path.

What was it like finding your LGBTQ+ community, and why is that important?

Mike: AMS has provided a sense of belonging for me in multiple ways, an important one being the vibrant LGBTQ+ community within. For me, the chance social interactions that take place at AMS conferences and meetings have made the biggest impact. Realizing that an admired scientist has more in common with you than just your chosen field has been a very powerful thing. It *was* difficult to find my LGBTQ+ community in the early days of my career. Whether it was the era (early 2000s), my geographic location, my mindset – or, more likely, a combination of all these factors. I am grateful for those doing the work to expand and make the community more visible and welcoming. It has been my goal to be a small part of that change.

Tevin: I’ve had an overall positive experience. A lot of that is self-induced, because I try give off good energy, in hope that it returns. But I also try not to give attention to negativity.

Brad: Across many AMS programs and meetings I get to experience firsthand an active and engaged LGBTQ+ community that is the result of the hard work and commitment of many AMS members and staff over many years. Needless to say, they are a fun and welcoming group!  Today’s experience contrasts sharply with my experience decades ago when there wasn’t a welcomed LGBTQ+ community. Any gatherings were done in secret and privately arranged. Early efforts to publicly organize were resisted.

Jerrica: In my experience it has been very easy to find LGBTQ+ community within the AMS and in central Ohio.

Declan: I’ve had many positive experiences where I’ve felt connected to the LGBTQ+ community within AMS. During the pandemic the Coriolis Reception was held on Zoom. Before I knew it, I felt like I was reconnecting with a bunch of old friends who understood the joys and difficulties of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve stayed in touch with many people I met in that Zoom call!

At times, it can be very difficult to find an LGBTQ+ community, particularly in smaller spaces where the focus is not on identities. Obviously, not every conversation needs to revolve around identities; however, I believe it would make it easier to find an LGBTQ+ community in every space if identities became a more common subject in weather, water, and climate spaces.

Join us next week for Part 2!

Featured image credit: Asker Ibne Firoz, “Rainbow over the city,” entry to 2023 Weather Band Photo Contest.

Bumpy Flight into Hurricane Ian Births a New Metric for Turbulence

Airplane over hurricane

A research spotlight from the 36th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology

NOAA’s WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft are no strangers to turbulence. Reconnaissance flights through hurricanes are by definition a tad bumpy.

A viral video taken aboard the Hurricane Hunter “Kermit” (NOAA42) as it flew through Hurricane Ian on 28 September, 2022, however, shows that even its experienced crew were shaken.

In the video, equipment is shown having fallen to the floor of the aircraft (“There goes the sondes!”), and after a camera-shaking bump, the crew can be heard reassuring each other, “We’re alright.”

Part of video of Hurricane Hunter flight into Hurricane Ian, September 28, 2022. Video courtesy of Nick Underwood.

“I’ve been flying hurricanes with NOAA for the last six years, and that was the worst flight that I’ve been on so far,” NOAA Programs and Integration Engineer Nick Underwood (who filmed the video) told MSNBC the next day. “We were coming through the western side of Hurricane Ian, it was intensifying up to its peak Category 4 strength, and we really got bounced around.”

As it turns out, the flight may have been the most turbulent ever on a Hurricane Hunter aircraft, at least in the past 20 years. In a study presented by Joshua Wadler of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the 36th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, researchers came up with new metrics to better quantify turbulence as experienced by an aircraft’s occupants—and ranked the top ten flights in Hurricane Hunter history.

“It was probably about ten minutes of really extreme turbulence,” said Wadler in his presentation during the “Innovative Observing Technologies to Advance Tropical Cyclone Operations and Research VI” session. As part of the flight crew, Wadler was on the team in charge of the Altius-600 small uncrewed aircraft system’s first-ever deployment into a hurricane.

“We were talking on the mission and we [thought], well, is this the bumpiest flight ever?” Wadler said. A few of the crew who had been flying such missions for decades seemed to think so. “We were like, okay, let’s try to figure it out.”

A bumpiness equation

Aside from corroborating hurricane researchers’ harrowing tales, understanding turbulence is becoming increasingly important given its predicted increase due to climate change, and with recent incidents including the death of a passenger during an exceptionally turbulent Singapore Airlines flight. Metrics for turbulence already exist, but most of those only represent vertical motion and focus on atmospheric properties rather than what happens to occupants. “We wanted … to have a 3-D turbulence metric, and one that describes the human experience,” said Wadler. 

When an aircraft rapidly accelerates  vertically or horizontally, everyone feels the dizzying rise or stomach-clenching drop. But if the aircraft rotates around its center of gravity in any direction, that acceleration will have different effects depending on where someone is seated–for example, when the aircraft tilts (or pitches) upward the people in the front of the aircraft will feel an upward acceleration while the people in the back will feel a downward acceleration. If the plane is also accelerating upwards, such as during takeoff, those in the front will experience a “double whammy” of acceleration. As Wadler noted, “Every seat on the plane experiences different rotational motions depending on where you are.”

Wadler and colleagues’ new “bumpiness” metric accounts for those differences. 

The research team combined flight-level data from all P-3 flights since 2004 (when high-enough-quality data became available). They calculated the acceleration forces acting on each seat in the plane relative to the plane’s center of gravity.

They defined the flight’s “bumpiness” by combining acceleration with jerk (the rate of change in acceleration over time), accounting for both in all three dimensions. This equation can be applied to any aircraft where the center of gravity and relative positions of the seats are known, and for which high-quality flight-level data are available. 

Bumpiness equation
Wadler and colleagues’ equation for defining “bumpiness” (B) in meters per second squared (m/s2).
Pilot's bed on floor

Their equation accounts equally for bumpiness in all directions, although it can be thrown off by sharp turns. Missions in which the plane turned sharply on purpose (for example, to calibrate instruments) were excluded from the team’s calculations.

Because the end result, the B or bumpiness value, values all dimensions of movement equally, it doesn’t always sync with what people expect. Some Twitter commenters belittled the video from the flight, possibly because it shows few large up-and-down bumps. The main types of motion experienced by the mission’s crew, however, were front-to-back and side-to-side.

<< The off-duty pilot’s bed was thrown from its bunk onto the floor during flight 20220928H1 into Hurricane Ian, due to lateral motion of the aircraft. Photo courtesy of Jake Barlow.

The bumpiest hurricane flights

The researchers calculated the top 10 bumpiest flights for each of the seats on the plane, based on the most turbulent part of each mission. 

WP-3D Orion seat map
Seat map of WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Image: Josh Wadler.

For the person in seat 1 (the “pilot flying,” in the front left seat on the plane), the Hurricane Ian flight was in fact the bumpiest by far—with a B value of 6.04 m/s2, 34% bumpier than any other flight for which good data were available. The second highest B value was experienced during Hurricane Irma in 2017 (B value: 4.5 m/s2), the third by a flight into Hurricane Sam in 2021 (B value: 4.39 m/s2). Subjective rankings from surveyed flight crews came up with a wide range of answers about their bumpiest flights, but were roughly in the same ballpark as those calculated by B value.

RankStorm NameMission IDMaximum Bumpiness Value (m/s2)
1IAN20220928H16.04
2IRMA20170908H24.50
3SAM20210929H24.39
4LANE(EP)20180822H14.28
5FELIX20070902H14.27
6DORIAN20190830H24.08
7PATRICIA(EP)20151023I14.05
8RAFAEL20121015H14.02
9GONZALO20141017I13.90
10DORIAN20190904H13.70
Rankings of B values for Hurricane Hunter flights since 2004, for the pilot in seat 1.

On the Hurricane Ian mission, the greatest B value (6.13 m/s2) was experienced by the second pilot, sitting in seat 2. Wadler was in seat 10. “I was very fearful during this mission,” he noted during his presentation. But, “lo and behold, my seat had the lowest [bumpiness] value by far.” The pilot in seat 1 experienced 37% worse turbulence than Wadler’s seat in the middle of the plane (6.04 m/s2 vs. 4.4 m/s2).

Seatmax Bumpiness (m/s2)
16.04
26.13
36.02
45.87
55.52
65.68
75.03
85.08
94.79
104.4
114.46
124.45
134.54
144.52
154.45
164.53
174.51
184.59
194.55
Rankings of B values for all seats on the Hurricane Hunter flight 20220928H1.

For seat 1, the Ian flight (Flight 20220928H1) ranked above all other flights for back-front and lateral motion. Yet in terms of up-down motion, a mission during Hurricane Lane ranked far higher, with a vertical B value of 17.1; Ian’s highest vertical B value was 8.43, ranking it seventh in terms of vertical motion. When all metrics are combined, however, the Ian flight came out on top. “It’s normal to have vertical bumps with eyewall updrafts and downdrafts,” Wadler noted in a later conversation, “but the lateral motions are rare. … The dropsondes went all over the cabin.”

Currently the bumpiness rankings only count the highest B value experienced during a flight. In future work, the research team aims to develop an equation that can account for cumulative bumpiness over time—a “queasiness index.” We’re well on the way to finding out what flights would make even the most iron-stomached hurricane hunter, in Wadler’s words, “very happy to be on the ground.”

Want to know more about what it’s like to fly a research mission into a hurricane? Take a virtual tour of a Hurricane Hunter aircraft “Miss Piggy.”

Header photo: View from NOAA WP-3D Hurricane Hunter aircraft “Kermit” during flight 20220928H1 into Hurricane Ian. Photo courtesy of Joshua Wadler.

About 36Hurricanes

The 36th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology brought together hundreds of hurricane researchers, modeling experts, forecasters, emergency managers, communicators, and more May 6-10, 2024, in Long Beach, California to discuss the latest in tropical cyclones and other tropical weather phenomena. It was hosted by the AMS Committee on Tropical Meteorology and Tropical Cyclones.

You can view the online program here. All conference presentations will become available to the public starting in August 2024.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Spotlight: Dr. Syukuro “Suki” Manabe

By Anjuli S. Bamzai, AMS President

My graduate advisor at George Mason University, Dr. Jagadish Shukla, displayed the photos of four meteorologists in his office: Drs. Norman A. Phillips, Jule Charney, Edward Lorenz, and Syukuro “Suki” Manabe. All giants in their field, they had been his PhD advisers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the 1990s, as I pursued my graduate degree at Dr. Shukla’s Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), the scientific family tree remained strongly connected, and so I in turn had the chance to cross paths with luminaries like Manabe in person.

Suki Manabe photo

Circa 1994, I had the privilege of hearing Manabe–or, as I came to refer to him, Suki-san–give the inaugural talk at the newly established COLA. He spoke about the use of dynamical general circulation models to study the atmosphere and its coupling to land, using a simple ‘bucket’ model to discover emergent properties of this complex, chaotic system. He was an animated speaker; it was apparent that he was driven by curiosity and sheer love of the science that he was pursuing.

I was inspired by his ability to explain the properties of such a complex system as the Earth in such elegant terms. Suki-san’s clarity and scientific passion resulted in contributions to our understanding of climate the importance of which cannot be overstated. As I began my own foray into Earth system science, those initial interactions were a formative experience.

Left: Suki-san enjoying his work. Photo courtesy of Dr. V. Ramaswamy.

The models he used were relatively simple compared to the complex Earth system models of today. Yet Manabe and Wetherald (1967), published in the AMS’s Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, is arguably one of the most influential papers in climate science. It demonstrated a key feature of the atmosphere with an increase in carbon dioxide: rising temperatures closer to the ground while the upper atmosphere got colder. If the variation in solar radiation was primarily responsible for the temperature increase, the entire atmosphere would have gotten warmer.

Graphic from Phys.org, based on Manabe and Wetherald (1967), Figure 16, “Vertical distributions of temperature in radiative convective equilibrium for various values of CO2 content.”

The work that Suki-san and his team conducted comprised a major component of the 1979 report, “Carbon dioxide and climate: A scientific assessment.” Led by Jule Charney from MIT, it is now commonly referred to as the Charney Report. The main result of the succinct 22-page report was that “the most probable global warming for a doubling of [atmospheric] CO2 [is] near 3°C with a probable error of ± 1.5°C.” Perhaps most importantly, the report ruled out the possibility that increasing CO2 would have negligible effects. This estimate of climate sensitivity has pretty much withstood the test of time; in the past forty years, annual average CO2 concentrations increased by ~ 21% and the global average surface temperature increased by ~0.66°C. How prescient!

Suki-san was one of the panelists who shared their insights at a session that the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) convened during its November 2019 meeting to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Charney Report. Suki-san’s concluding slide pretty much summed up his philosophy: make your model just as complicated as it needs to be, no more. (See photo below.)

Panelists photo and concluding slide. Slide text says, "Concluding Remarks: 
[Bullet point one] Satellite observation of outgoing radiation over annual and inter-decadal time scale should provides macroscopic constraint that is likely to be useful for reducing large uncertainty in climate sensitivity.
[Bullet point two] It is desirable to make parameterization of subgrid-scale process 'as simple as possible', because simpler parameterization is more testable."
Left: Panelists at the November 21, 2019 session on The Charney Report: Reflections after 40 years at the BASC meeting. (Left to right) Drs. Jagadish Shukla, former student of Jule Charney; D. James Baker, member of the original authoring committee; Jim Hansen and Syukuro Manabe, major contributors to the original report; and John Perry, staff lead for the report. Right: Dr. Manabe’s final slide at the Charney Report session at BASC. Photos courtesy of Anjuli Bamzai.

October 5, 2021, was such an exciting day to wake up to! The Nobel Prize in Physics was shared by Drs. Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselman, and Giorgio Parisi. The citation reads: “The Nobel Prize in Physics 2021 was awarded for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems” with one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming,” and the other half to Giorgio Parisi “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.”

As he eloquently stated on the momentous day that he received the Nobel Prize, “I did these experiments out of pure scientific curiosity. I never realized that it would become a problem of such wide-ranging concern for all of human society.”

The accompanying press release on the Nobel Prize particularly cites Suki-san’s work at NOAA in the 1960s, noting that “he led the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate and was the first person to explore the interaction between radiation balance and the vertical transport of air masses. His work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.”

Left: Event to honor Nobel Laureate Dr. Suki Manabe at National Academy of Sciences. (Left to right) Drs. Jagadish Shukla, Suki Manabe and Marcia McNutt, President National Academy of Sciences. Photo courtesy of Dr. J. Shukla. Right: (Left to right) Drs. V. Ramaswamy, Director, NOAA GFDL, Suki Manabe, and Whit Anderson, Deputy Director, NOAA GFDL, celebrating the big news of Suki-san’s Nobel Prize, October 2021. Photo courtesy of Dr. V. Ramaswamy.

It is no exaggeration to state that the modeling findings by Suki Manabe and, about a decade later, Klaus Hasselman, opened not only an era of climate modeling but also an entirely new subfield of climate science, viz., detection and attribution (D&A) through fingerprinting and other techniques. Observations have provided an important reality check to model simulations through these D&A efforts.

The current torchbearers of the D&A tradition are Drs. Ben Santer, Tim DelSole, Reto Knutti, Francis Zwiers, Xuebin Zhang, Gabi Hegerl, Claudia Tebaldi, Jerry Meehl, Phil Jones, David Karoly, Peter Stott MBE, Tom Knutson, and Michael Wehner, among others. Over the years several of them have also gone on to receive AMS awards—including, in Meehl’s case, the Jule G. Charney Medal. Speaking of awards, Jonathan Gregory is the most recent recipient of AMS’s Syukuro Manabe Climate Research Award, which has also been bestowed on Drs. Joyce Penner and Cecilia Bitz. Next year, consider nominating someone for the Manabe Award, the Charney Medal, or the new Jagadish Shukla Earth System Predictability Prize!

Those of us in the atmospheric and related sciences benefit directly from Suki Manabe’s scientific legacy and intellectual passion, and all of human society owes Suki-san a great debt for helping us to understand climate change, one of the greatest challenges humankind has ever faced.

Anjuli is grateful to Katherine ‘Katie’ Pflaumer for providing useful edits.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Spotlight: Dr. Tetsuya “Ted” Fujita

Tidal Basin with cherry blossoms and ducks (NPS photo)

By AMS President Anjuli S. Bamzai

Blossoming cherry trees are stars of springtime in Washington, D.C., and the most popular place to visit the cherry blossom trees is the Tidal Basin. Their bloom is one of the most joyful events of the year, awaited with much anticipation by tourists, meteorologists, local businesses, and the National Park Service.

Celebrating the friendship between the Japanese and American peoples, the Tidal Basin cherry trees were a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo to the United States in 1912. While the precise timing of peak bloom varies from year to year (April 4 on average, driven largely by winter/early spring temperatures), peak bloom has been occurring earlier due to warming trends. Furthermore, a combination of rising sea level and sinking land has necessitated plans for a new seawall that requires many existing trees to be removed. Yet the government of Japan has promised new trees to replace those that were lost.

This year’s beautiful blossoms strongly reminded me of the remarkable contributions of Japanese Americans — in particular Japanese American meteorologists. Our science would be especially bereft without the contributions of several scientists who, after receiving their advanced degrees at the University of Tokyo in the so-called “Syono school” of dynamic meteorology, immigrated to the U.S. from postwar Japan. Among them were Tetsuya Fujita, Akio Arakawa, Akira Kasahara, Kikuro Miyakoda, Takio Murakami, Katsuyuki Ooyama, Michio Yanai, and of course, Syukuro ‘Suki’ Manabe, one of the three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021.

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, in this post I chose to showcase the contributions of the legendary Dr. Tetsuya Theodore ‘Ted’ Fujita. Nicknamed “Mr. Tornado,” he linked tornado damage with wind speed and in 1971, developed the Fujita scale for rating tornado intensity based on ground and/or aerial damage surveys. He is also recognized as the discoverer of downbursts and microbursts, which are serious potential threats to aviation safety. Thus his discoveries made aviation safer.

Fujita (left) with John McCarthy, Inaugural Director of NCAR-RAP/RAL, in 1982. After studying tornadoes for over two decades, Fujita had just seen his first one in person. Photo: Texas Tech, found in Fujita’s memoir, “Memoirs of an Effort to Unlock The Mystery of Severe Storms During the 50 Years, 1942–1992,” in the Texas Tech Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.

But let’s take a step back. How did Fujita get interested in tornadoes in the first place? In part, his involvement was yet another legacy of the Manhattan Project: Fujita began his life’s work studying damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of the atomic bombs.

Fujita was working as assistant professor in physics at Meiji College of Technology in Tobata, exactly halfway between the two cities. A couple of years earlier, in compliance with his dying father’s wishes, he had opted to go to Tobata for his studies in mechanical engineering rather than Hiroshima. In the month following the bombings, Fujita and his team of students went on an observational mission to study the blast zones at both sites. At Nagasaki, through studying the burn marks of various objects, Fujita had the goal of estimating the position of the atomic bomb when it exploded. At ground zero, most trees, though scarred black by radiation, were still standing upright while buildings were in ruins. Seen from above, it looked like a giant starburst pattern.

After WWII ended, he joined the University of Chicago. By a stroke of genius, the Japanese American meteorologist was able to draw comparisons between severe weather and the nuclear shock waves he had studied some twenty-five years earlier at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through studying the debris and damage of tornadoes before cleanup. He led the development of the Fujita Scale to categorize tornado intensity, a modified version of which remains in use today.

Following the Super Outbreak of 3–4 April, 1974, which covered over 2,600 miles and produced nearly 150 tornadoes in an 18-hour period, Fujita carried out aerial and ground damage surveys covering over 10,000 miles. Through meticulous analysis of the observational data, he demonstrated the existence of smaller tornadoes — suction vortices — within the parent tornado. The aerial surveys also led to the discovery of microbursts.

Photo: Dr. Fujita as a professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, photo taken in April 1961. Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

You can read more about his discovery of the downburst and its contributions to aviation safety (including his work as a principal investigator for the National Intensive Meteorological Research On Downburst [NIMROD] project) here.

In 2000, two of his former students organized the “Symposium on the Mystery of Severe Storms: A Tribute to the work of T. Theodore Fujita,” held at the 80th AMS Annual meeting. They were none other than Gregory S. Forbes from The Weather Channel and Roger M. Wakimoto from UCLA, both distinguished meteorologists in their own right. Roger was of course our AMS President in 2017–2018. The photo below shows the three of them at an event at the University of Chicago from the early 1980s.

Dr. Roger Wakimoto (left), Dr. Ted Fujita (middle) and Dr. Gregory Forbes (right), taken in the early 1980s when all were at the University of Chicago. Photo Courtesy of Roger Wakimoto, honorary member of the AMS.

You can read the proceedings of the Symposium here to get a fuller sense of Fujita’s immense contributions to atmospheric science. In this short piece, I have barely scratched the surface.

You can also learn about Fujita through the PBS American Experience series, which describes events and people who have shaped the landscape over the course of history. Fujita is profiled in the episode titled, “Mr. Tornado.”

Featured image: Cherry blossoms surround the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Photo: National Park Service, Kelsey Graczyk

Anjuli is grateful to Katherine ‘Katie’ Pflaumer for providing useful edits.

SunSketcher (Part 2): Ordinary People Become Solar Eclipse Scientists for a Day

Eclipse sequence through sculpture

Guest post by Gordon Emslie (Western Kentucky University) and Hugh Hudson (University of Glasgow)

During the 2024 North American solar eclipse, a pioneering project aimed to use citizen-science smartphone data to help determine the true shape and size of the sun. How did it turn out? This is part two of a two-part post. Read part one here.

Eclipse-day weather

The SunSketcher program required clear skies, and during the wait for our rapidly approaching, astronomically imposed deadline, the national weather patterns were not looking good. About two days in advance, the predicted region of cloud cover did a remarkable, and indeed seemingly contrived, job of tracing the eclipse path all the way from Mexico to Vermont, with only New Hampshire and Maine mercifully spared.

Weather forecasts for eclipse day. Note the almost surreal way in which the forecast area of clouds tracks the path of totality. Left: Forecast cloud cover a couple of days before the eclipse (April 4), with yellow regions showing clearer skies, and black regions denoting cloudy skies (data from ECMWF IFS HRES model, image from Weather.US). Right: National Weather Service weather forecast from April 7, 2024, for afternoon of April 8, 2024. Purple lines indicate path of totality. Graphic: NWS Weather Prediction Center on Twitter.

Despite the gloom, we reportedly had some coverage from about 80% of the users, and we may be able to use much of the data from partially covered sites. (This remains to be assessed as a part of our data analysis.) As often happens during an eclipse, the drastic and sudden cooling of the lower atmosphere, and resulting drop in the ambient lapse rate, resulted in a seemingly magical parting of the clouds for many observers, including one of the authors stationed in Dallas, TX. The other author was at New Harmony, IN, on the banks of the Wabash river between Indiana and Illinois, and was able to witness the entire eclipse without a single cloud in the sky (see featured image at top of post).

Initial analysis of data from the 2024 eclipse

Over 35,000 users downloaded the SunSketcher app and activated it on eclipse day.1 The first user’s data upload from the SunSketcher app proved to be excellent. Here we show the observed variation of the total brightness in each of the 101 images uploaded.

Observed variation of the total brightness across 101 images taken by one SunSketcher app user around the time of eclipse totality, April 8, 2024. Left, the total signal in each of the 101 images (the central image has a longer exposure time); right, an expanded view around the time of second contact. The Baily’s Bead will be just at the intersection between the bright sliver of the partial eclipse at the left edge, and the base level of the corona itself at the bottom.

Our task in data analysis is to make detailed measurements of each user’s data in comparison with the LOLA archive prediction, thus allowing progressive adjustment of the assumed solar profile, culminating in a measurement of the height of the solar limb with the highest precision yet achieved. The redundancy of the 35,000 sets of data will let us explore the shape of the Sun and characterize its distortions (such as the oblateness) better than ever before. Contributions from along the path may allow us to search for time variations on time scales of an hour, which would be another first. The great length of the eclipse path will have produced coverage across the track, essential for detecting Baily’s Beads at different azimuthal angles around the Sun/Moon periphery.

1 Because we intentionally did not upload Personally Identifiable Information, we have no idea who these 35,000 citizen scientists were. [We do know, however, that the data presented in Figure 1 was obtained from a phone located in northeastern Ohio.] Nevertheless, they know who they are, and we thank them all for their valuable (and, in all cases, unique) contributions to the SunSketcher project.

Future work

The single “snapshot” of 2024 will have measured the solar oblateness, but we can be sure that effects related to solar magnetism will be evident on time scales of years. Given the success of the SunSketcher app project in 2024, the logical next step is to search for solar-cycle effects on the shape of the solar disk, using succeeding eclipses. For the eclipses of 2026 (the track of which includes Eastern Greenland, Western Iceland, and Northern Spain) and 2027 (Southern Spain, Gibraltar, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) we will refine our techniques, for example shifting to “burst mode” photography to improve time resolution around the critical times of second and third contact. We will need to deal with making the app available in different languages, and with legal issues regarding user privacy and international transfer of data. We may also implement a very simple scheme of color selection to help reject contributions from the sun’s reddish chromosphere layer. (Indeed the 2024 eclipse had a very visible pink/red chromospheric prominence, as reported by many observers and as shown below.)

Totality during the 2024 April 8 eclipse, as viewed from New Harmony, IN. Note the conspicuous pink-colored chromospheric prominence at the bottom of the solar disk, near the white-light Baily’s Bead. Credit: Clinton Lewis/WKU.

Closing thoughts

The SunSketcher project is unlike any other science project we have ever conducted. Its blend of technology, functionality, and aesthetics, its absolute dependence on the participation of ordinary people as “citizen scientists,” and the inexorable path toward an absolutely rigid project deadline made for an interesting few months. We are elated that the weather cooperated to an extent far greater than feared in the days leading up to the eclipse, and, given the impossibility of actual “field testing” during other total eclipses, that the app worked as well as it seems to have done. 

We have been privileged to be part of an endeavor that introduced tens of thousands of members of the public to participation in solar science. Having taken our collective deep breath, it is time to move on to future eclipses, and the insights into the structure of our nearest star that a lengthy program of SunSketcher observations will ultimately reveal.

You can learn more about SunSketcher at http://sunsketcher.org/.

Featured image: A montage of eclipse stages during the 2024 April 8 eclipse, as viewed through a propitiously erected metal sculpture in New Harmony, IN. This image was also used on the NASA website. Credit: Clinton Lewis/WKU.

SunSketcher (Part 1): Using Smartphones to Reveal the Shape of the Sun

Total eclipse image with Baily's beads

Guest post by Gordon Emslie (Western Kentucky University) and Hugh Hudson (University of Glasgow)

During the 2024 North American solar eclipse, a pioneering project aimed to use citizen-science smartphone data to help more accurately determine the shape of the sun. How did it turn out? This is part one of a two-part post. Read Part 2 here.

Solar eclipses provide infrequent opportunities to study the faint atmosphere of the Sun while evading the glare of its body. In these brief moments, one can really enjoy a direct view of the glorious solar corona. One can also deploy specialized astronomical instrumentation to record and analyze images and spectra. And now, solar research can take advantage of the amazing technological advances available in everybody’s smartphones: GPS timing and geolocation, and cameras with many pixels. In 2017, the Eclipse Megamovie project, led by Laura Peticolas of UC Berkeley, captured and blended many images of the solar corona into a uniquely seamless movie of coronal variations over the 1.5 hours of totality, along the full length of the eclipse track. For 2024, we wanted to expand on this success by using precise timing information of eclipse features to determine the precise shape of the Sun — all with ordinary smartphones! Thus was born the project that came to be known as SunSketcher.

Why does the Sun’s shape matter?

The Sun’s exact shape is determined by the flows of gas within its interior; precisely observing that shape gives us a better sense of what is happening underneath. Accurately measuring the Sun’s oblateness (its deviation from a perfect sphere) will also allow very precise calculations of the effects of solar gravity on the motions of planets like Mercury, which can help us test out different gravitational theories.

The physics behind the shape of the Sun

The exact timing of events during an eclipse — the beginning or end of totality, for example — depends upon how big the Sun actually is. Many (including the eclipse legend Xavier Jubier) have commented on the possible use of detailed timing of eclipse features to revise our knowledge of the size and shape of the solar disk. The Sun is a fluffy ball of hot gas, and there are several different ways you could define its edge, or limb, and thus its size.

So instead we ask: What is the shape of the Sun? That is a question one actually can get a meaningful answer to, by selecting any reasonable definition for determining the edge of the Sun, and then seeing how this varies around its circumference (the limb). Intuitively, the rotation of the Sun will make it oblate rather than a proper sphere, and we observe this shape distortion to be about 1/100,000th of the radius. But other internal flows and forces can cause distortions to the shape of the solar disk, and these have never been measured previously. Solar magnetism is one such factor: the Sun has a magnetic field which is generated by, and moves with, the ionized gases within its interior. This magnetic field, and the associated flows cause time-dependent shape variations such as coronal mass ejections and the 11-year sunspot cycle.

The edge of the Moon and Baily’s Beads

There are four “contact times” during a total solar eclipse — when the edges of the sun and moon appear, from our perspective, to meet. The first contact is when the Moon begins to pass in front of the Sun, and the fourth contact occurs a couple of hours later when the Moon, traveling at over 2,000 mph, finally exits the path between the Sun and the observer. The times of second and third contact1 are when the solar and lunar limbs just match (the leading edge at second contact and the trailing edge at third contact). At these times, so-called Baily’s Beads (see the image above) briefly appear, bright spots formed as the sunlight passes through the lunar valleys but is blocked by the several-kilometer high lunar mountains on either side. This gives us a marvelous opportunity to get very precise measurements of the solar limb, using trigonometry. The shape of the occulting lunar limb has now been mapped out in great detail by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Selene satellites, with uncertainties as small as 5 meters. The eclipse lets us transfer this mapping to the Sun; since the Sun is about 400 times further from the Earth than the Moon is, a 5 m lunar roughness translates to a distance of only 2 km on the Sun, a tiny fraction of the 700,000 km mean solar radius. Multiple measurements of the precise timing of Baily’s Beads can therefore map out the shape of the solar limb with unprecedented precision, and this information can in turn be used to constrain the flows within the solar interior.

1 Note that for an annular eclipse (see below) the times of second and third contacts are reversed from their counterparts during a total eclipse. During an annular eclipse (see Figure 1), second contact corresponds to the trailing edge of the Moon being coincident with the solar limb, while third contact occurs when the leading edge subsequently arrives at the opposite edge of the solar disk.

A student-built smartphone app: SunSketcher 2024

The SunSketcher smartphone app was designed, developed, and implemented by a team of faculty and students at WKU (with majors ranging from computer science to art and design) to carry out the precise timing observations of Baily’s Beads necessary to map (“sketch”) solar oblateness. Its basic functionality is surprisingly simple: starting with the GPS location of the phone (known to a distance accuracy of a few meters, comparable to that of the lunar limb from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter [LOLA] database), the app uses2 the Besselian elements of the eclipse to calculate the precise times of second and third contact at the observer’s location.3

The app then commands the phone’s camera to take a series of 100 images (50 around the time of second contact and another 50 around the time of third contact). Because of some uncertainty about what exact feature (the first penetration of the solar crescent by a lunar mountain? the last ray of sunlight from the lowest valley at the limb?) corresponds to the published times of second and third contact, we deliberately chose to take images over a time interval spanning about 20 seconds either side of the published contact times. (Preliminary results from the 2024 April 8 eclipse show that this was overly conservative, and we will reduce the observing interval accordingly for future eclipses.)

Although the images are rather unspectacular, consisting of a few bright dots of light (Baily’s Beads) surrounding the lunar limb, it is the timing of the appearance and disappearance of these bright dots of light that provide the essential scientific information, and an ordinary phone is capable of timing each frame to an accuracy of a millisecond. With an eclipse shadow speed of about 2,000 mph (3,200 kilometers per hour, or about 1 kilometer per second), a timing accuracy of 1 ms represents a distance of about a meter, corresponding to about 400 m at the Sun. This is a superb level of accuracy.

2 Much of the coding for this first step was already present in a code written by Ideum, Inc., for the 2017 solar eclipse, and we are grateful to Jim Spadaccini of Ideum for sharing this code with us.
3 Besselian elements (named after the mathematician Friedrich Bessel) are a set of numbers that use the position of the Moon and the Sun to describe the circumstances of an eclipse as viewed by a hypothetical observer at the center of the Earth; with these numbers established, it is a relatively straightforward exercise in geometry to translate these to the circumstances for an observer at a given latitude, longitude, and altitude.

Testing the concept

Our research found a great deal of conflicting information about whether exposure to direct sunlight could damage a cell phone’s camera, so extensive beta-testing was carried out with various makes and models of phone, culminating in a beta-test during the 2023 October 14 annular eclipse at the University of Texas Permian Basin4 in Odessa, TX. These tests revealed that while exposure to direct sunlight could easily cause overexposure of images (and possible overheating of the phone), it did absolutely no damage to the phone’s camera.

A view of the third contact during the 2023 October 14 annular eclipse, taken at the Stonehenge replica on the UTPB campus in Odessa, TX, with a DSLR camera at 1/8000 second exposure time. Note the Baily’s Bead at 7 o’clock on the solar disk. Subsequent analysis allowed us to associate this bead with a prominent deep valley on the Moon’s limb, strongly validating the SunSketcher concept. Credit: Clinton Lewis/WKU. (Image was also used as the lead image in this NASA website article.)

Photographer Clinton Lewis accompanied the team on our trip to Odessa, and not only produced many images of the team at work, but also of the eclipse itself. Notable among these images was one taken at the time of third contact (Figure 1), showing a distinct Baily’s Bead lying approximately midway between the “horns” of the bright solar crescent at the other (uneclipsed) side of the Sun. This image was immediately termed the “Clinton Bead,” and formed the basis for a subsequent analysis in which we were able to identify the precise lunar valley (“Clinton Valley”) corresponding to it. More than any other evidence, the image of the Clinton Bead showed that the proposed methodology of SunSketcher was indeed very feasible.

The exposure time chosen for each image was 1/8000 second, which we determined to be sufficiently short to permit useful (unsaturated) images to be obtained without the use of a solar filter. Another image, with a significantly longer exposure time, is taken at mid-totality, when the circular ring at the base of the solar corona is visible. This central image is used to locate the Sun in the field of view of the camera, and a bounding box, large enough to accommodate the degree or so of diurnal drift during the 4 minutes or so of totality, is placed around this location. This bounding box is then used to crop each of the 101 images obtained, thus concentrating on the 5 kilobytes or so of scientifically valuable data. This reduced the amount of data that had to be transmitted from about a hundred megabytes per phone to less than a megabyte.

At the end of the observation period, the app shows the user all 101 photos taken and requests permission to upload them to a central server. Because of the substantial reduction in data content facilitated by the cropping of the images, the upload time is only about one second for all of the images taken from a single phone.

Many eclipse observers congregate in groups, and it was important that a phone did not simply duplicate the data from other phones in close proximity to it. To accomplish this, the app added or subtracted a random time, up to a quarter of a second, to the times of the images taken; with an eclipse shadow speed of about a kilometer per second, this added “jitter” corresponds to about plus or minus 200 m in phone location.

4 We thank the administration, faculty, and staff of UTPB for their hospitality during this beta testing, not to mention allowing us use of the Stonehenge monument replica on campus as a viewing location. Now there’s a place to see an eclipse!

The user interface

With the basic functionality of the code written, and successfully tested at the 2023 annular eclipse, the attention of the team turned to the more practical, legal, and aesthetic issues associated with its use by observers with no prior training. We added a short tutorial, covering matters such as how to point the phone camera and how to ensure an uninterrupted observing sequence. We employed focus groups to ensure the app was attractive and intuitively straightforward to use. Because the project involves the collection of data from phones belonging to a large number of members of the public, we also had to ensure compliance with legal issues such as user privacy. To avoid potential issues with different privacy laws in different countries, the app was made available only to phones belonging to a U.S. network.

Overall, the SunSketcher project involved tireless effort and commitment from a team of faculty and students representing disciplines ranging from computer science to art and design and even psychological sciences. There were countless highs and lows throughout the months of work. As we approached the day of the eclipse, everyone (and we mean everyone!) on the team knew that the astronomically imposed deadline was more absolute than any other project that they had before worked on, or would ever work on in the future.

Read Part 2 here to learn what happened on eclipse day! You can learn more about SunSketcher at http://sunsketcher.org/.

Featured image: Baily’s Beads in 2019 from La Silla, Chile (courtesy P. Horálek/ESO).

Celebrating Women’s Contributions to Atmospheric Sciences

By AMS President Anjuli S. Bamzai

I grew up in a family that valued intellectual pursuits, discipline, and the importance of women’s education—and was provided the support to make sure I received that education despite external social and cultural barriers. In the 1930s, when my mother was young, such values were uncommon outside of her family. My mother was the first woman in our community in the town of Srinagar, Kashmir, to receive a college degree, back in the late 1930s. She was followed by her younger sisters, one of whom went on to become the principal of the women’s college in town. Thus, I grew up with the important privilege of having strong women as role models.

As I entered the atmospheric sciences, one of the women who embodied the undaunted courage and determination in that generation of path-breakers was Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first U.S. woman to obtain a doctorate in meteorology, which she earned from the University of Chicago in 1949. In 1989 she became the first female president of the AMS. She researched hot towers and hurricanes, and was the project lead of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) at NASA. While I never got a chance to meet Dr. Simpson, she was a beacon of inspiration.

I worked at the National Science Foundation under Dr. Rita Colwell—NSF’s first female director. An eminent biologist, she is recognized for her groundbreaking work on global infectious diseases such as cholera and their connection to climate. At an NSF holiday party during her directorship, I was astounded and inspired by the number of awards and honorary degrees on her office wall, from institutions all over the world! I admire her efforts in developing programs that support the advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers, such as NSF ADVANCE.

AMS President Anjuli S. Bamzai with a portrait of Dr. Joanne Simpson at AMS HQ (left), and with Dr. Rita Colwell (right). Images courtesy of Anjuli S. Bamzai.

This Women’s History Month, as I reflect about women pioneers who inspired me, I thought I’d share with you a few important figures from my mother’s generation and before. Their contributions have indeed made our field a richer place.

June Bacon-Bercey (1928–2019)

When June Bacon-Bercey went to UCLA, her adviser told her she should consider studying home economics, not atmospheric science. Considering that she’d transferred to UCLA specifically for its meteorology degree program, she didn’t believe this was good advice. We’re all lucky she followed her heart.

Bacon-Bercey graduated from UCLA in 1954, the first African American woman to obtain a bachelor’s degree in meteorology there, and early in her career worked for what is now the National Weather Service as an analyst and forecaster. Later, as a senior advisor to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, she helped us understand nuclear fallout and how atomic and hydrogen bombs affected the atmosphere.

In 1972, she became the first on-air African American female meteorologist, working for WGR-TV in Buffalo, New York (and soon after, became the station’s chief meteorologist). That same year, she was the first woman and first Black American to be given the AMS Seal of Approval for excellence in broadcast meteorology. In 1975, she co-founded the AMS Board on Women and Minorities, now called the Board on Representation, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity (BRAID).

June Bacon-Bercey. Image: AMS.

June Bacon-Bercey was a truly multifaceted scientist: over the course of her life, she was an engineer, a radar meteorologist, and a science reporter. She established a meteorology lab at Jackson State University, created a scholarship with the American Geophysical Union, earned a Master of Public Administration, and even served as a substitute math and science teacher well into her 80s. Not only did she achieve so much personally, but she was instrumental in making atmospheric sciences more accessible to minorities and to women.

I’m grateful to her for leaving all of us at AMS such a rich legacy, and hope you are too! Her determination and foresight benefit us all to this day.

Anna Mani (1918–2001)

Despite growing up in the same city where Anna Mani worked at the India Meteorological Department, I learned of her immense contributions to the field only recently. She followed her passion to study meteorology at a time when it was uncommon for women to pursue science. Although it went unseen by many, Mani’s work was instrumental (literally) in advancing meteorological research in India. Anna Mani once said, “Me being a woman had absolutely no bearing on what I chose to do with my life.” 

Thwarted from studying medicine as a young woman, she developed a passion for physics, studied the properties of diamonds, and eventually earned a scholarship to study abroad, learning as much as she could about meteorological instruments. Returning to India just after the country’s independence, Mani played an important role in developing Indian-made weather and climate observing instruments, helping the country become more self-reliant. Her ozonesonde—the first developed in India—was created in 1964 and used by India’s Antarctic expeditions for decades; in the 1980s, these ozonesonde data helped corroborate the presence of the ozone hole in the Antarctic.

Anna Mani and colleague with a radiosonde. Image: World Meteorological Organization.

She eventually became deputy director-general of the India Meteorological Department. She also held multiple elected positions with the World Meteorological Organization related to instrumentation, radiation climatology, and more.

After (nominally) retiring in 1976, she spent the next few decades—almost till the end of her life—heading up a field research project unit assessing wind and solar energy resources. That work paved the way for many wind and solar farms across the country, advancing India’s leadership in renewable energy. How prescient her thinking was in terms of the need to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy resources for the health of the environment!

Eunice Newton Foote (1819–1888)

By all counts, Eunice Foote was a remarkable woman. She was a dedicated women’s rights campaigner and suffragist, who attended the historic 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, helped publish its proceedings, and was among the first signatories on its Declaration of Sentiments.

In 1856 she was also the first person to demonstrate heat absorption by atmospheric gases and their potential climate impacts. Using a mercury thermometer inside glass cylinders, Foote found that the heating effect of the sun was greater in moist air than dry air, and highest of all for carbon dioxide. She even suggested that higher proportions of atmospheric CO2 could have caused warmer climates over the course of Earth’s history.

Yet the findings of a female amateur scientist—including the first non-astronomical physics paper published by an American woman—were ignored or dismissed by many at the time. Possibly unaware of Foote’s work, a few years later John Tyndall from Ireland wrote his seminal paper on the topic of atmospheric gases and solar radiation in 1861, and he was credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect.

That didn’t stop Foote, who would publish another physics paper and produce several patented inventions including a temperature-controlled stove. Though she spoke out about women being forced to file her patents under their husbands’ names for legal reasons, she still filed three under her own name, including rubber shoe-inserts and a paper-making machine. As a scientist, inventor, and women’s right campaigner, Eunice Foote was a trailblazer in the true sense of the word. 

The Declaration of Sentiments of the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, 1848. Eunice Foote’s name is fifth in the left-hand column. Image source: U.S. Library of Congress.

Women continue to break barriers!

Women, and especially women of color, still face barriers to equal participation and recognition within our fields. There are women whose names we *should* all recognize, but whose work has been buried, others whose ambitions may have been thwarted, or who are still struggling to be taken seriously. Whoever and wherever you may be, you can do your bit to help change that. By giving credit where it is due, we do right by each other and help make the meteorological ecosystem an attractive place to join, work, and collaborate in.

I would invite all of us to make a special effort to recognize the women we know who are making important contributions in Earth systems sciences—not just the ones who’ve already made a name for themselves, beating the odds. Mentor the early career scientists you know. Appreciate their talents and potential. Champion their careers. Consider nominating those you consider meritorious for AMS awards (including the Joanne Simpson Award and the June Bacon-Bercey Award!). If you’re part of the AMS community, consider following in the footsteps of June Bacon-Bercey by getting involved with BRAID’s efforts to make our field more welcoming for all who have a passion to be part it—including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and those with disabilities. Or you might simply view and share this month’s AMS social media posts, celebrating women in our community. Happy Women’s History Month!

Anjuli is grateful to Katherine ‘Katie’ Pflaumer for providing useful edits as well as contributing material.

Changing Coasts and Culture

Image of wave washing over a rocky beach

AMS 2024 Session Highlight: “Convergence Science in the Context of Integrating Weather and Climate Science with Studies of Marine and Coastal Resources and Geophysical Processes”

By Isabella Herrera, AMS Policy Program

One of the most challenging parts of planning out my week at the AMS Annual Meeting was choosing which symposia and sessions to attend in person, and which to catch on my laptop after leaving Baltimore. Convergence Science: Indigenous Weather, Water and Climate Knowledge Systems, Practices, and Communities was one of the symposia for which I knew I wanted to bein the room where it happens.” In this case, “the room” was in the Baltimore Convention Center, and unlike many scientific and political discussions throughout the history of the United States, these discussions focused on Indigenous voices and the need for the scientific community to more meaningfully engage with Indigenous science and Native peoples. 

The symposium centered on the work of the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences (co-administered by NCAR|UCAR and the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network), including the Rising Voices: Changing Coasts (RVCC) research hub. As Lead Investigator Daniel Wildcat said in an opening address for the symposium, RVCC is “catalyzing efforts to bring Indigenous knowledge holders [together] with some of the best university-trained [physical] scientists in the world … to model what convergence science looks like if you include Indigenous wisdom and knowledge.” A short film was played during the morning session to honor the late Dr. Heather Lazrus, Rising Voices co-founder, and her work with Rising Voices. 

A panel discussion during the symposium, Convergence Science in the Context of Integrating Weather and Climate Science with Studies of Marine and Coastal Resources and Geophysical Processes, featured a variety of speakers working at the various intersections of weather, water, climate, marine, and Indigenous science. Here are some of the experiences and perspectives shared during this session.

The Convergence of Science and Identity: Being Native in Scientific Spaces

Robbie Hood, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and atmospheric scientist, started off the session describing her experience having worked for both NASA and NOAA, and mentioned that although she’d been to many AMS Annual Meetings throughout her career, this was her first time being able to represent herself as a Cherokee. Hood emphasized the immense opportunity of convergence science in practice.

“To me, it’s just science,” said Kekuʻiapōiula (Kuʻi) Keliipuleole, a Native Hawaiian and researcher at the University of Hawaiʻi. Native peoples’ knowledge of and connection to their lands is expansive, and deep, and intimate, Keliipuleole explained to us as she introduced herself by naming her mountain (Makanui), her waters (Wai‘ōma‘o and Pūkele), her rain (Lililehua), and her winds (Lililehua and Wai‘ōma‘o). She spoke about being a Native person who studies native organisms in their environment, in Hawaiʻi for Hawaiʻi, and the complexities of merging her identity of being Native and a scientist – of integrating “western” science into her culture.

Photo of Daniel Wildcat speaking in front of a screen on which is displayed the words, "Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: A new/old approach to convergence science. Speakers: Daniel Wildcat, Paulette Blanchard, Diamond Tachera, Kyle Mandli, Julie Maldonado." Two people are sitting in front of the screen while Dr. Wildcat is standing.
RVCC Lead Investigator Daniel Wildcat giving an opening address during the first session of the Convergence Science symposium, “Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: A New/Old Approach to Convergence Science.” Photo credit: Isabella Herrera.

“From when we are babies, we are learning this method of kilo [a Hawaiian word literally translated as “observations,” but with much deeper meaning in practice] … It’s being able to know the rains and the winds,” she said. “I could tell you that this one tiny section in a road over from my road is constantly flooding … because the government paved a road over an old spring … I see this [particular microbial mat], and I know that comes from groundwater, so I know that that was a spring because I have this kilo, this observational experience.”

Historically, Indigenous scientists have often had to navigate the supposed duality of their identities – of being a scientist and a Native person – and have not been able to include their Indigenous knowledge in their work in the same way they can with the science taught to them through academic institutions. The convergence of western scientific knowledge and Indigenous knowledge is integral to the future of the WWC enterprise.

Suzanne Van Cooten, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and Regional Administrator of the USGS South Central Climate Adaptation Center (SC CASC), highlighted the importance of inviting Tribal nations and other groups that have historically been dismissed from climate and water conversations to scientific spaces. She shared her enthusiasm about the first time she was able to forecast for her homelands as a hydrologist.

Respectful Engagement, Not Exploitation

“I think a lot of the Tribes kind of feel like they get talked at more than they get talked with.”

-Daniel Wildcat
Three people sit in front of a screen (their names are listed in the caption below). The screen is displaying the words, "Convergence Science in the Context of Integrating Weather and Climate Science with Studies of Marine and Coastal Resources and Geophysical Processes.
Speakers: Robbie Hood, Suzanne Van Cooten, Ku'i Keliipuleole, Carlos Martinez, Casey Thornbrugh."
(left to right) Speakers Carlos Martinez, Kekuʻiapōiula (Kuʻi) Keliipuleole, and Suzanne Van Cooten during the panel session. Photo credit: Isabella Herrera.

The session also featured discussions of how to go about entering Indigenous spaces from the world of western (or, as Van Cooten prefers to say, colonial) science.

Carlos Martinez, a climate scientist, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, and program coordinator for the National Science Foundation Coastlines and People Program (CoPe), also serves as a board member of the AMS Board of Representation, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity (BRAID). He talked about his experience working with communities on convergence science.

“One of the things I have learned [is] knowing my place in the room … understanding that what I share is through my lived experiences, and not imposing what other people’s experiences are,” Martinez told us. 

A humble, listening approach is important for effective engagement, yet non-Indigenous groups often fail to employ this approach when entering Indigenous spaces. “I think a lot of the Tribes kind of feel like they get talked at more than they get talked with,” Daniel Wildcat said. “This is systemic.”

“When immersing in a space with convergence science in mind, [one thing I learned is] actively listening; for example … listening to what the communities are interested in learning, what their needs and concerns are, and then if willing, provide resources or information in communication with one another,” Martinez said. “I always take criticism and feedback as a way for growth, as a way that I can be … a better scientist and a better human being.” 

Non-Indigenous scientists should consider their intent versus impact when working with Indigenous communities. Historically, the scientific community has engaged with Indigenous peoples in a way that has been exploitative and continues to perpetuate colonialism, even if the work itself was initially intended to benefit those same communities. 

“If you want to work with Indigenous people, then you’ve got to change how you think about what that work requires,” Wildcat told us. 

Aspects of science and academia can become obstacles to building trusting relationships – something that is deeply important in working with Indigenous people. Most researchers and policymakers aren’t able to spend the time to establish meaningful and authentic relationships with the tribes they may want to work with, and appropriated dollars can’t be spent on food to host community gatherings. 

“[Working with Indigenous people] requires time, it requires meetings where you don’t have an agenda,” Wildcat explained. “You go meet with people, find out what they’re doing, find out what their issues are. . .and then [consider ways you] could assist.”

One of the main challenges Tribes face when it comes to federal funding opportunities, Van Cooten explained, is having the capacity to co-produce applications for funding and then administer the funds. Tribal leaders and program officers are already spread far too thin within their own communities to dedicate any more of their time applying for, let alone managing, large grants. “Yes . . . it’s a huge amount of money, but it will also take a huge amount of management. And so that capacity in the Tribe to manage that, with all the reporting, with everything that’s going to go along with that funding . . . they don’t have that.”

Many of the challenges faced by Tribal Nations are intersectional, and the approaches taken to address them must be, as well. This also rings true for challenges in weather, water, and climate science. Communication is key to both building meaningful relationships and to realizing the full potential of convergence science.

“It’s not much different than trying to put a weather forecaster in the same room with a weather researcher,” Hood told us. “. . .they talk a different language and they’ve got different metrics for what’s important, but if you give them that chance to talk, they’ll work it through. … We just need to open our minds and think about it from both points of view.”

A Change in Culture

These discussions made me consider the profound impacts that this shift in worldview could have on science and society as a whole.

Physical and biological sciences are intrinsically linked, and the need to integrate these two broad disciplines sparked the usage of the term “convergence science” in the first place. Does “western science” continue to limit itself by viewing the Earth and its systems (including biological systems) as entirely separate entities? How is that restriction reinforced by rigid academic and scientific institutions? How can we realize the full potential of convergence science (across various scientific disciplines, and across cultures and communities)?

As Keliipuleole told us, the scientific community “needs more of us to see the world the way that [Native people] see it, and not the way academia raised us to see it.”

There needs to be a culture change. There needs to be capacity building for and within Tribal Nations so that non-Indigenous scientists can engage with Indigenous science, and at universities and Tribal Colleges so students holding this Indigenous knowledge can be a part of the future of the scientific enterprise. There needs to be more of an effort to not just include but to amplify Indigenous voices in spaces like the AMS. The convergence of the western and Indigenous weather, water, and climate sciences must address the ongoing role of colonialism in modern scientific practices, and acknowledge the value of Indigenous science in and of itself.

As Van Cooten said at the start of the discussion:  

“[Science] should be inclusive to all communities, not just primarily those that have the loudest voice.”

Header photo credit: Isabella Herrera.

Recordings of all Convergence Science symposium sessions are available now to registered attendees of the AMS 104th Annual Meeting (log in and find each session through the online program). All recordings will be available to the public beginning three months after the meeting.

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 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the AMS 104th Annual Meeting explored 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 explored 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. Learn more at annual.ametsoc.org.

Our Turn: Highlights from the AMS Student Conference

Attendees at the AMS 2024 Student Conference

The 2024 AMS Student Conference, held January 27–28 in Baltimore, was a major success, with 740 attendees and 285 poster presentations. If you registered, you can view the Student Conference presentations online now! We checked in with this year’s conference chairs–Melissa Piper (SUNY Albany), Angelie Nieves Jiménez (Colorado State University), and Dillon Blount (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)–to hear their takeaways.

What was your favorite thing about the conference?

Melissa: My favorite moment was 2023 AMS Edward N. Lorenz Teaching Excellence Award winner Dr. Teresa Bals-Elsholz’s talk during our opening remarks on Saturday, titled, “Does Life Equal Advection?” She gave an inspiring, engaging, and relevant speech about her career path and advice for the student attendees. One quote was particularly memorable: “Do your best. Follow your passion.” It was a fantastic way to kick-start the conference! I heard a lot of students mention just how much they enjoyed it. She was incredible!

Dillon: My favorite part of the Student Conference was the opportunity to speak with students from a variety of institutions and locations! I always enjoy hearing how students have been impacted by different sessions within the conference. One of the highlights this year was the Director of the National Weather Service, Ken Graham, giving both an impromptu session on Saturday and our second keynote presentation on Sunday. Having the opportunity to engage with Ken, many students came away with a new excitement for their future. I love hearing the positive interactions that happened with all the student-speaker engagements.

Angelie: My favorite part of the conference was seeing how our hard work panned out! I enjoyed seeing students entering the Ballroom or enjoying their walk through the Career and Graduate School Fair. Hearing them speak positively about their experience after attending sessions and meeting with the professionals they look up to reassures me that our work is impactful. In addition, witnessing them present at the Student Poster Session and apply the concepts and skills they have learned during the conference was very encouraging. We heard from first-year student attendees that they’re excited to return next year. They now know how to prepare, and what to expect and focus on!

Tell us about some of your most popular sessions.

Melissa: Conversations with Professionals is always a crowd favorite. Students can interact with 10 professionals from different career paths (broadcast, private sector, academia, NWS operations, policy, etc.) in an informal Q&A format, with each professional in their own room. This year we had a surprise 11th professional: not even 15 minutes before the session began, NWS Director Ken Graham offered to join the session and connect with the students. It ended up being one of the hits of the conference!

Angelie: One of our most attended sessions was the theme session, Research, Communication, Policy. We had three speakers, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Ms. Sophia Whittaker, and Mr. Kei Koizumi, who spoke about Climate Research, Climate Communication, and Climate Policy. This session, held in the big ballroom on Sunday morning, was accessible and applicable to all the students.

Dillon: Another popular session this year was Non-Traditional Jobs. This year, the non-traditional careers ranged from a STEM librarian to someone in educational research. This session breaks the barrier of students feeling like they must enter the big areas in our field to be successful and allows them to understand what opportunities may be available in non-traditional areas.

What were some key pieces of advice—from you or from speakersfor early-career professionals?

Angelie: [One] piece of advice is to grow your network and meet new people. The conference is what you make of it, and it’s important to attend the sessions that will benefit YOU. Prepare and navigate the conference as you see fit for your interests.

Dillon: A piece of advice that I heard throughout the weekend was that students should get involved! Whether this be at your institution, community, or within AMS, getting involved will help grow your skill sets and push you outside your comfort zone.

[Speaking of getting involved:] This was the first year that the AMS Board on Student Affairs (BOSA) existed. … We encourage any student that would like to participate in the planning of the student conference or be on other committees to join BOSA! We had a successful first year, and we cannot wait for another great year. 

Melissa: One piece of advice I heard multiple times was to find a way to stand out. Students need to get involved and gain experience outside of their atmospheric science classrooms—take programming/GIS/communication courses, get an internship, conduct some research, take on a leadership role, etc. 

We heard from many of our speakers just how impressed they were with the student attendees! The students were particularly engaged this year and asked thoughtful and relevant questions about science and career paths.

What have you learned from your time as co-chairs, and what would you tell your successors?

Dillon: One of the biggest things that I learned throughout the year as co-chair was confidence. This was the largest leadership role that we have taken on, and I am so glad to have done it beside Angelie and Melissa. As we worked together throughout the year, our confidence grew immensely. … Of course, we would not have been able to accomplish anything without the assistance from the entire Student Conference Planning Committee team. The three of us learned that one of the most important aspects of leadership is relying on an amazing team like SCPC. To our successors, my biggest piece of advice is to adapt, learn, and gain confidence as you go!

Melissa: This past year as co-chair taught me how to be flexible and the importance of communication when you are part of a team. Dillon, Angelie, and I were able to successfully navigate obstacles and implement solutions due to our flexibility and communication with each other. To our successors, my biggest piece of advice would be to trust and rely on your fellow co-chairs. The three of you are a team of equal participants going through this crazy experience together—enjoy and have fun with it!

Angelie: When you step into the role, it will feel like a big responsibility and that maybe you’re not qualified for it, but you are! You’re there for a reason, and you have a team, and everyone is rooting for you. It’s all a learning process, and AMS Staff is available to help you, and Dillon, Melissa, and I are as well. Leadership roles like this one will provide you with tons of experience and are very rewarding. Enjoy the process since it goes by very quickly!

You can view our previous post about the 2024 Student Conference here.