RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AND INTERNSHIPS
SoMAS offers opportunities to undergraduates for research in marine sciences, atmospheric sciences, and waste management. Most of these opportunities involve research for credit .
Opportunities to do research during the semester or in the summer may be available through faculty research grants and other competitive fellowship programs such as the Undergraduate Research and Creativity (URECA). Students can also volunteer for summer research.
Internships can be a valuable way for students to gain experience in the outside world with a company, governmental organization, non-governmental organization, or educational facility. Although the Director of Undergraduate Studies maintains a list of possibilities, often students discover opportunities on their own and bring them to the Director for consideration.
- ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY, AEROSOLS & CLOUDS
- CLIMATE DYNAMICS AND VARIABILITY
- WEATHER AND EXTREME
- RADAR SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS
ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY, AEROSOLS & CLOUDS
At SoMAS, there is strong research program related to the gases, aerosols, and clouds that constitute our atmosphere. This research incorporates both observational and modeling work accomplished in field projects, via two atmospheric chemistry laboratories, or with advanced numerical cloud models and LES models. Broadly, these efforts are focused on the constituents of Earth’s atmosphere, the processes they undergo, and how they might change in the future. Mitigating gaps in knowledge related to these topics is vital to improving our understanding of our present and future weather and climate systems.
Atmospheric Chemistry and Aerosols
Atmospheric chemistry encompasses the interaction of gases and aerosol particles with each other and with the environment. The sum of these interactions determines, in large part, the composition of Earth’s atmosphere, which changes over time. Furthermore, aerosol particles govern cloud formation with subsequent important implications for the radiative budget of the atmosphere, water vapor distribution, and the hydrological cycle.
Our faculty study i) the origin of certain trace gases, with special emphasis on the large scale (hemispheric, or global) contribution from human activities, ii) the potential of natural and anthropogenic aerosol particles to form ice clouds and how this can be parameterized; iii) the interaction of aerosol particles with atmospheric trace gas species to assess the impact of multiphase chemical kinetics on air quality and climate; iv) the global rate of removal of several reactive species and how this is affected by human or natural changes over time; v) the role of marine biological activity in sea spray aerosol production and its climatic impact.
Cloud physics is the study of the properties of clouds and the processes involved in their formation and evolution. Clouds play a large role in Earth’s weather and climate system, both in the production of precipitation and in their effects on the global radiation budget. How cloud formation and growth occur are directly tied to the former while the interaction of clouds with radiation is linked to the latter. A better understanding of these topics is necessary for improvement of their representation in weather and climate models in order to increase short- and long-term forecasts. In SoMAS, our faculty investigate both of these areas, with a focus on using sophisticated, high-resolution numerical modeling to study (i) cloud and precipitation processes and (ii) how the presence and evolution of clouds may affect Earth’s future climate.
In an attempt to better understand atmospheric process, such as convection, cloud formation and extreme weather, scientist build numerical models. These models range in complexity from simple models meant to conceptualize robust behaviors of the atmosphere to more sophisticated models that bring together many components of the Earth system. At SoMAS, our faculty and students are involved in the development and use of these models to forecast our weather, understand extreme weather events and project future climate change.
Atmospheric radiation is concerned with the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with Earth’s atmosphere. In turn, this interaction largely determines the global temperature structure and is paramount to whether that structure changes. Ongoing research to gain insight into the interplay between radiation and temperature is especially important in improving the efficacy of climate modeling. At SoMAS, our faculty are involved in observational projects that use data from the upper atmosphere to investigate radiation processes as well as efforts to improve how climate models parameterize these same processes.
Remote sensing is the process of obtaining information about meteorological phenomena from a distance, typically by using electromagnetic radiation. The radiation is either emitted by an instrument towards the system under study as with a Doppler weather radar or radiation emitted by the system is measured by an instrument as with a satellite. Remote sensing tools allow for the collection of valuable data. These data are then analyzed to learn more about the their structure and the processes involved in their evolution. Our faculty are involved in using remote sensing to gain insight into the behavior of many types of meteorological phenomena including midlatitude cyclones, tropical cyclones, lake effect snow, mesoscale snow bands, severe storms, and tornadoes.
CLIMATE DYNAMICS AND VARIABILITY
SoMAS has active research programs directed toward advancing the scientific community’s understanding of climate variability and predictability from subseasonal to decadal time scales, from ocean to atmosphere, and from regional scale to large-scale. A variety of observational, theoretical, and modeling strategies are used to explore the dynamics of weather and climate, towards improved understanding and predictions.
Global and regional climate variability and change
We study variabilities in the ocean-atmospheric systems from regional to global scale including atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems, ocean-atmosphere interaction (e.g., El Nino-Southern Oscillation), extreme events (e.g., storm track, hurricane) in response to the changing climate. We also study the climate of specific regions (e.g., rainfall in California, tropical storms affecting New York State) and determine how a variety of models best describe those regional climate fluctuations and their long-term trend.
Tropical meteorology encompasses a diverse set of weather and climate processes occurring in the low latitudes, roughly between 30° north and south latitude. The weather and climate of the tropics involve phenomena such as trade winds, hurricanes, intertropical convergence zones, jet streams, monsoons, El Nino, and tropical intraseasonal oscillation (e.g., Madden Julian Oscillation). At SoMAS, we study these phenomena using observation and numerical models, and develop models to perform diagnostic studies and predict future changes.
Deep convection in the tropics evolves together with the global atmospheric circulation through atmospheric teleconnection. At SoMAS, we study how the tropical subseasonal to decadal climate variability impacts on the extratropical phenomena such as change of the Hadley circulation and mid-latitude jet, tropical circulation and storm track, ENSO-atmospheric river, and so on.
Climate prediction is a probabilistic statement about the future climate conditions on time scales ranging from weeks to decades and helps for longer-term decisions and early warning of potential hazards. At SoMAS, we study on the predictability of phenomena from tropics to extratropics on global to regional scale (e.g., storm track, hurricane, MJO, ENSO). We assess the predictability and predictions from various numerical model output and develop statistical approaches to improve the climate prediction.
Ocean circulation and modeling
The ocean stores heat and redistributes them via the large-scale circulation which affect and is affected by climate change through various feedback mechanisms. At SoMAS, we study the effect of ocean circulation on climate, large-scale ocean circulation, mesoscale eddies, and ocean modeling
WEATHER AND EXTREMES
At SoMAS our faculty and students study a variety of weather events, ranging from everyday weather to extreme events. SoMAS researchers use a range of models and observations to understand and predict extratropical cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes, with a particular interest to events unique to where we call home, the Northeast United States and Long Island.
Also referred to as midlatitude cyclones, extratropical cyclones are responsible for a lot of our everyday weather. In the summer they produce a variety of weather, including typical cloudy days, mild rain events and more intense thunderstorms. In the winter, extratropical cyclones are responsible for blizzards, ice storms and lake effect snow events. At SoMAS, our faculty actively research cyclone in coastal environments, including those East Coast and West Atlantic, as these storms can produce damaging storm surges along New England and Long Island during the winter months. Stony Brook researchers also investigate how extratropical cyclone tracks and intensity may change over time to gauge how our general weather may change.
Hurricanes, also called tropical cyclones and typhoons, are intense atmospheric vortices that form over the warm tropical oceans. These storms are some of the most devastating weather phenomena on Earth, as they can produce extreme winds, large amounts of rain and destructive storm surges. At Stony Brook University, our faculty work to further out understanding of hurricanes and improve our ability to predict potential land falling hurricanes, including those that impact Long Island and the New York area (e.g., Superstorm Sandy). Furthermore, additional research focuses on understanding how hurricanes will change in the coming decades and what that means for coastal communities.
Supercell and tornado dynamics
Powerful, rotating, long-lived convective storms known as supercells are responsible for many of the damaging hail and high wind events that impact the U.S. In addition, these storms are responsible for spawning a large majority of violent tornadoes that causes a disproportionate amount of death and property damage. A major research objective in this area is to better understand the dynamics of supercells, and in particular, why some supercells produce tornadoes and many others do not. Additional work is focused on tornadoes: how they form and dissipate, their physical characteristics, and the complex processes they undergo. These scientific efforts use high-resolution observational data and/or employ numerical models to address these scientific problems. Our faculty use observational data from advanced remote sensing instrumentation, including phased-array radars, dual-polarization radars, and high-resolution satellites to (i) improve our understanding of supercell kinematic, dynamic, and microphysical evolution as it relates to tornado production, (ii) gain insight into regional supercell storm life cycles (iii) optimize short-term forecasts and nowcasts of storm evolution, and (iv) observe and attempt to explain tornado features and short-time-scale tornado processes.
RADAR SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS
SoMAS has active research programs directed toward advancing the scientific community’s understanding of the “cloud problem”, i.e., the understanding of the microphysical, dynamical and radiative processes that act at the cloud scale and their accurate representation in numerical models is the central theme of our research. Synergetic remote sensing observations from both space-based and ground-based sensors and their clever use through the development of new inversion algorithms and adaptive sampling strategies constitute our approach for probing clouds and precipitation in their natural environment. As part of our research we use a wide variety of observational platforms, however, millimeter wavelength radars are our primary observing tool for diagnosing the structure, kinematics and microphysics of clouds and precipitation.
Top: Gridded, constant altitude plan position indicator, CAPPI, animation of the X-band Scanning ARM Precipitation Radar (XSAPR2) on 01/19/2018 at Graciosa Island, the Azores. Bottom: corresponding time-height plot of the Ka-band ARM Zenith-pointing Radar (KAZR) for the same day. For more information see Lamer et al., 2019