Meteorologists study the dynamics of air motion, physical processes such as transfer of radiation, and convection resulting in severe storms, flash floods, and hurricanes. During the past few decades progress has been made in atmospheric sciences in developing systems to observe the current state of the atmosphere and in using those observations in improved computer models for prediction. The atmosphere is also the centerpiece of the interconnected, interactive global environmental system within which life thrives. Current research efforts involve using numerical weather prediction models to simulate cases of severe local storms (e.g., squall lines, bow echoes), storms associated with heavy rainfall and snowfall, and the genesis of tornadoes associated with land-falling tropical cyclones. Faculty collaborate with both research meteorologists at national centers as well as operational meteorologists at local national weather service forecast offices.
The Department is a charter member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation. External funding for research comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In Atmospheric Sciences nine SUN SPARC workstations exist for computing, accessing, and displaying conventional weather data, and radar and satellite imagery.