Policy Symposium Keynote to Focus on Tree-Climate Connnections

by Caitlin Buzzas, AMS Policy Program
The keynote speaker for the 8th Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic research at the AMS Annual Meeting in January will be author and journalist Jim Robbins. The Montana-based science writer for the New York Times just wrote a book on the connection between trees, forests and our atmosphere, The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet.
Robbins’ talk for our meeting (Monday,7 January, 11 a.m., Room 19a) is going to span many different aspects of our annual meeting including public health, climate, and weather. The topic, “The Few Things We Know and the Many Things We Don’t about the Role of Trees and Forests on a Warmer Planet,” could be of interest to just about every topic the symposiums cover.
If you want a preview, check out his TED talk on YouTube, where Robbins’ commitment to the science of trees in climate is explained:

They say that everyone must have a child, write a book and plant a tree before they die. But for the writer and freelance journalist of the New York Times, Jim Robbins, if we just do the last part, we’d already be off to a great start. The author of “The man who planted trees” tells how he became a rooted defender when he observed the devastation of the old growth pine trees on his property in Colorado because of climate change. For him, science still hasn’t studied deep enough about these beings that filer air, stop floods, recover desert areas, purify water, block UV rays and are the basis of medicines as well as decorate the view. Much beyond shade and fresh water.

The 2013 AMS Annual Meeting actually goes a long ways toward fulfilling Robbins’ vision of discovering more about trees in our climate, with dozens of related presentations. At Monday’s poster session (2:30 p.m., Exhibit Hall 3), for example, Juliane Fry is presenting lab findings that may eventually refine regional climate mitigation policies that rely on tree plantings to produce cooling secondary aerosols. Also, as victims of fire disasters, forests feature prominently in the Weather Impacts of 2012 sessions (Tuesday, 8 January, Ballroom E). Similarly, on Wednesday (2:30 p.m., Exhibit Hall 3) Anthony Bedel will present a poster on the connection between changing climate and increasing potential for forest fires in the the Southeast, due to thriving fire fuels.
Young scientists are also following this line of work: Sunday’s Student Conference posters (5:30 p.m., Exhibit Hall 3) include a presentation by Zeyuan Chen of Stony Brook on understanding airflow in a cherry grove to better help orchard managers save their trees from bark beetles. Another student, Meredith Dahlstrom of Metropolitan State University in Colorado, presents in the same session on interannual and decadal climate mechanisms related to fluctuations in the prodigious capacities for carbon storage in the Brazilian rainforests.

Spotlight on Early Career Professionals

If you haven’t noticed, a lot of AMS members are just starting out in the atmospheric sciences, making their way to success in a field that is full of continually evolving–and often little-known–prospects for advancement. Now is a good time, however, for those early career professionals trying to learn more about what’s ahead and meet the colleagues they’ll be encountering in coming years: AMS is providing new opportunities for them to get to know more about each other and their common futures.
The November issue of BAMS features an interview with KMGH, Denver, Colorado, weekend meteorologist Maureen McCann, part of our ongoing series of features about young people in the atmospheric sciences community. Maureen has a lot to share about getting started in the field. For example:

On advice she would give to an early career professional starting in this field: The best advice would be take whatever comes your way for your first job.  Your first job is key to fine tuning your skills and becoming familiar with the nuts and bolts of television news.  Keep in mind that it’s temporary and you will use this experience to move onto the next job, if that’s what you desire. Small market life has a lot of benefits! I look back on my time in my first market, Bangor, Maine, with great memories. The friendships I made there were with people in the same boat as myself: fresh out of college looking to get their career started.
Another point of advice is to always keep your resume current. You never know when opportunities will present  themselves. I aim to update my demo reel every six months. I probably would have missed out of the Denver opportunity if I didn’t have an updated reel online for the news director.
On who she seeks advice from and why: I’d have to say the broadcast community as a whole. Social networking has revolutionized how meteorologists can exchange information or gather feedback. There are some message groups on Facebook that serve as an excellent forum for this dialogue. Whether you have a question about graphics, or forecast models, or you’re looking for input on a prospective job location, chances are someone else has the same question too. It’s a great resource to poke through daily and see what the discussion topics are.  It’s also a good way to make connections beyond traditional ways like conferences.

For the full interview, see the November issue of BAMS and look for similar features in the future thanks to your new AMS Board on Early Career Professionals.
Another opportunity to get to know early career professionals is coming up at the Annual Meeting in Austin, with the First Conference for Early Career Professionals on Sunday, 6 January 2013. Early- to mid-career professionals will offer guidance and hold open discussions to solicit input on how the AMS can further benefit members who are beginning their careers in the atmospheric sciences. That evening, attendees and all other Annual Meeting participants are invited to attend the third annual AMS Reception for Early Career Professionals.
If you have advice for early career professionals or would like to nominate an early career professional to be featured in BAMS, the Board for Early Career Professionals would love to hear from you. You can contact Andrew Molthan, current chair of the AMS Board for Early Career Professionals, at [email protected].

Planning for the Next Superstorm: Kids Will Lead the Way

by Ellen Klicka, AMS Policy Program
Superstorm Sandy was a reminder that the best time for severe weather preparedness is before hazards strike. Unfortunately, it also made clear that many people still lack sufficient know-how to take measures against potential loss of life and property from natural hazards.
Where to get that know-how? From their kids!
At least, that’s the solution developed in a new online gaming initiative—the Young Meteorologist Program (YMP)—launched during the height of this week’s storm. Children can be passionate about issues that concern them and can be effective at mobilizing the whole family and ultimately the community. Thus YMP stands out from other preparedness initiatives by recognizing children as the gateway to educating families, neighbors, and friends.
YMP is an educational collaboration between the AMS Policy Program, PLAN!T NOW (a non-profit organization that assists communities at risk of disasters), the National Weather Service, and, eventually, children across the nation. PLAN!T NOW asked AMS to help create this free online resource and computer game about severe-weather science and safety. In 2010, AMS Policy Program staff connected PLAN!T NOW to disaster preparedness and response leaders.
NOAA contributed considerable knowledge and support for the Young Meteorologist Program and other PLAN!T NOW initiatives. The AMS Policy Program and NOAA advised PLAN!T NOW on such topics as storm classification, tornado development, flooding and storm surges. The National Education Association also assisted to ensure the educational quality of the program. The diverse team of experts involved in YMP includes educators, scientists, entertainers and software developers, all working towards the common goal of creating disaster resilient communities across America.
The joint effort culminated in YMP’s public launch on October 29, as the Eastern seaboard began to feel Sandy’s impact. The AMS Education Program has assisted in promoting the program’s availability by reaching out to its network of K-12 science teachers. YMP will be a part of classrooms, museums, libraries, major city expos and events all over the country, reaching tens of thousands of children and adults.
YMP also brings Owlie Skywarn – a trademarked character of NOAA, revised and updated by PLAN!T NOW – into the 21st century by making him a central character in an interactive environment online—no longer limited to printed brochures. YMP game designers began with educational material from a NOAA booklet featuring Owlie; he and a host of other animated characters help each child become a junior data collector for the game’s “Weather Center.” Game modules cover hurricanes, lightning, floods, tornadoes, and winter storms. Each game is created in full, interactive animation.
Students who complete the online program earn a Young Meteorologist Certificate. Empowered by this recognition of their knowledge and effort, they are more likely to encourage parents and others to make assemble disaster kits, write emergency plans, and overall make preparedness a priority. The kids are invited to put their new knowledge to work through hands-on activities and community service projects highlighted on the program’s website. Resources for educators, parents and meteorologists to give further guidance to the Young Meteorologists are also available there.
Attendees at the upcoming AMS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, can learn more about YMP from the expert’s perspective–NOAA’s Ron Gird and colleagues will present a poster at the Education Symposium (2:30-4 p.m.; 7 January 2013). Dan Pisut of NOAA’s Visualization Lab spoke to the AMS Broadcast Conference about YMP this past August, and that presentation can be heard on our meetings archive.
Future versions of YMP may include new modules on fires and tsunamis, in addition to the five modules in the current game. Other scientific disciplines, such as oceanography and climatology could serve as the basis for programs similar to YMP down the road.
Prepared communities start with prepared households. AMS and its partners are recognizing that those households might become prepared because of knowledgeable children.

Help Us Get Dressed for Success in Austin

What comes to mind when you think about the AMS? Can you express it with an interesting and eye-catching graphic?

Don't use this idea; it's already been done!

If so, then we have a contest for you: the Society is looking for a member to create an original design for a tee-shirt that represents the mission of the AMS. The winning shirt will be sold at the upcoming Annual Meeting in Austin, and the designer of the chosen shirt will receive free registration to that meeting. And as an added bonus, it’s all for a good cause: proceeds from sales of the shirts will be donated to the AMS Student Travel Grant fund, which helps senior undergraduate and graduate students attend AMS meetings.
The deadline is November 9, so it’s time to start thinking creatively, and then send your idea to [email protected]. The complete rules for the contest can be found here.

Getting Ready to See You in Austin!

by Troy Kimmel, AMS Annual Meeting Local Planning Committee
With the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin coming up in a short period of time, your local planning committee is meeting and getting the local details all together for a great time for our society members in the “Music Capital of Texas.”
The local planning committee has been working with the national planning committees and with American Meteorological Society headquarters to make the meeting a memorable one.
Among the items that are being planned are environmental cleanup opportunities (through “Keep Austin Beautiful”) along Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, for AMS and local participants that want to volunteer, on the Sunday that the meetings officially open. In addition, the local committee is planning an AMS sponsored “Weather 101″ educational session for area scouts, Campfire USA and Texas 4H members that will satisfy education requirements for learning programs and badges. The session will allow the young people to meet and visit with Austin area broadcast meteorologists.
The local planning committee is working with the national Weatherfest committee to make the Weatherfest on the opening Sunday the best ever! The committees are contacting local, state and national private sector, governmental, academic and professional groups that would like to be part of the effort to bring “hands on” weather and climate experiments, equipment and other opportunities for the general public to experience.
Other local events being planned for our members as well as other in the local community include a two day teacher weather and climate workshop, including an evening “Hot Science – Cool Talks” event sponsored by the University of Texas’ Environmental Science Institute.
To make the meetings uniquely “Texas,” our committee is working closely with members of the South Central Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (Austin-San Antonio) as well as with the student chapters at Texas A & M University (College Station) and at the University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio). In addition, the AMS Local Chapters Affairs Committee as reached out, through conference calls, to local chapters across the United States to encourage their involvement and participation as well.
To make you aware of the local environment – atmospheric and otherwise – local committee members will prepare short videos that will air in the registration area talking about the basic weather and climate of Austin and south central Texas as well as everything you want to know about the Austin music scene.
Representing a broad cross section of the local meteorological community, those serving on the local planning committee include Troy Kimmel (Local Planning Committee Chair), Bob Rose, Joe Arellano, Paul Yura, Jon Zeitler, Veronica Holtz, Ken Bowman, Ken Young, Jay Banner, Jill Hasling, George Frederick, Rich Dixon, Kevin Barrett, Mark Murray, Brian Alonzo, Terry Colgan and Brent McAloney (as a representative of the National Weatherfest Committee).
We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in Austin in January!!