July 11, 2008
Posted: 11:59 AM ET
Meteorologists around the world all have the same job…to forecast and explain the weather. But depending where you are, that can mean tracking tropical cyclones, predicting snowfall totals, reporting on the environment. Or if you are a meteorologist on CNN International, it can be all three in one day!
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 36th Annual American Meteorological Society’s Conference on Broadcast Meteorology in Denver, and I am very excited to share with you some of the highlights.
The conference was not only filled with lectures given by meteorologists around the world, but the best part, I thought was the field trips to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Both of these research centers high on a mountain in Boulder, Colorado are researching weather to study climate, air chemistry, storms, the sun and its effect on Earth and the interactions of humans and the environment.
We had the chance to meet one on one with the top scientists in weather! Since my focus is Asia and Australia, I was very interested in the research being done for forecasting these regions. One of the things I learned is that NCAR works with their counterpart’s regularly in Shanghai and in Sydney, for example, to improve techniques in forecasting tropical cyclones and drought. Dr. Gregory Holland took the time to explain to me the topography of his homeland, Australia. The climate there is really fascinating: it’s possible to have drought and floods in close proximity. He described the winter in the Southeastern part of the country as wet and cold, similar to Great Britain at times.
At one point on the tour, a bunch of us went to a dark conference room and donned 3rd glasses (I am not kidding). We were literally wowed by 3-d animations of how wildfire grows and spreads. The animation showed the patterns and movement of fires and smoke plumes depending on atmospheric conditions.Wildfires have been in the news lately in California in the U.S. and in Greece.
The next stop on our field trip was literally down the mountain, to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here we were treated to two amazing projects NOAA is conduction from Boulder.
The first is “Science on a Sphere”
Science On a Sphere (SOS) ® is a room sized global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes, in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. (NOAA)
For a meteorologist, its one think to look at a satellite image on a flat computer screen, but to see it all moving along overlaid on a huge globe of the Earth was especially cool!
For all you space fans, our last stop will probably be your favorite to hear about. At NOAA in Boulder you will find the Space Weather Prediction Center.
Did you know that Polar Flights, international air travel that passes over the North and South Pole is dependent on Space Weather forecasting? I was fascinated by this and you will likely find me talking more about it soon on CNN Today Asia in my weather reports!
Some very cool images Space Weather Forecasters use come from Hawaii! From way a top the Mauna Loa Volcano.
Later back in Denver, we continued on in the coming days to talk about other topics: including Climate Change, Hurricanes, Tornadoes and communication tools to best display our reports, to you, our viewer.
I can tell you the technology that is coming is truly amazing and in the coming months, keep tuning into CNN International for the most interesting and cutting edge reports on the weather and environment!
It’s my pleasure and privilege to bring it to you weekdays CNN Today on CNN International and alongside my colleagues on Weather FX each month!
CNN Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider
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