OU professor receives NASA Earth Science funding for first-of-its-kind research

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Credit: University of Oklahoma

A University of Oklahoma professor, Cameron Homeyer, is a recipient of a NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science grant for new, early career investigators. Homeyer's research is the first concept of its kind to take ground-based radar observations of storms and link them to satellite observations of trace gases to better understand the characteristics of storms and how they modify the atmospheric composition.

"NASA's Early Career Investigator Award goes only to the best of the best. We are thrilled and honored that NASA has selected Professor Homeyer to receive this award," said Berrien Moore, vice president of Weather and Climate Programs, dean of the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences and director of the National Weather Center.

"We are applying methods to discriminate between air masses that recently have been modified by storms and those air masses that have not been impacted by storms," said Homeyer, assistant professor and associate director for undergraduate studies, School of Meteorology, OU College of Atmospheric Sciences. "This is the first time anyone has applied these methods in this way to understand this problem."

The impact of storms on atmospheric composition is not well understood and changes in water vapor and ozone from these storms can have important impacts on Earth's climate and human health. Storms move air masses with certain chemical characteristics around, and these air masses can impact the atmosphere's radiation budget, pollution and air quality.

"We don't understand how these storms modify Earth's upper atmosphere, particularly in the stratosphere, the layer of the Earth's atmosphere where the ozone lies and absorbs the ultraviolet radiation; and the troposphere, the layer of the Earth's atmosphere where human activity takes place," said Homeyer.

Homeyer will use a trajectory model and information on winds in the atmosphere, then put particles or little air bubbles in places where the storms occur, move them around with the winds and watch as they move downstream to find locations where air masses from storms coincide with satellite observations. Satellite observations from around the world then can be linked to recent storms and compared to air masses that have not been influenced by storms.

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Funding for the three-year, $284,000 grant supports the NASA Earth Science mission by advancing the use of satellites and providing data that contributes to understanding the climate system. For more information, contact [email protected]

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