Highlights from 2014: A year of opportunity and scientific discovery

December 19, 2014 | Sarah Witman
modis four seasons

MODIS satellite imagery captures the four seasons over Wisconsin. Photo Credit: SSEC.

Each year is ushered in with a renewed pursuit of opportunities and scientific discoveries. As 2014 comes to an end, the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) invites you to look back at what our scientists and engineers (and students, too!) have accomplished.

While this year may nearly be over, we are already looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. So stayed tuned… 2015 promises to be another eventful year.

Happy New Year!

1 bv3 Investing in the Future: The Role of Basic Science

Fifty years ago, the Kennedy administration promoted national investment in basic scientific research as a way to spur meaningful technological growth. Continued investment is critical to scientific and technological progress.

2 drill IDDO sends new ice coring drill to Greenland

Having designed and built what will be the nation’s next generation of ice coring drills, the Ice Drilling Design and Operations group (IDDO) at SSEC sent its instrument packing for Greenland on March 26. The Intermediate Depth Drill, IDD, is designed to recover ice cores from depths of 1,500 meters—nearly 5,000 feet. Ice coring drills provide scientists with ice samples thousands of years old, from which they can learn about changes in climate and air quality over time.

3 SSEC group helps fill in gaps on remote wind measurements

Until recently, researchers grappled with incomplete and inconsistent imagery of winds near the poles. A team led by Matthew Lazzara at SSEC has turned a new page on generating high-quality wind imagery, with a technique that promises improvements for forecasting and numerical weather prediction.

4 Study Shows Poleward Shift in Tropical Cyclone Maximum Intensity

The latitude at which tropical cyclones reach their maximum intensity is migrating away from the tropics, shifting in the direction of the poles at a rate of about one-half degree of latitude per decade in both hemispheres. A study published last spring in the journal Nature documents this poleward migration by analyzing global historical tropical cyclone data for the past 30 years.

5 Graduate researcher sees improved accuracy with new temperature validation method

Researcher Michelle Feltz, as an undergraduate at UW-Madison, undertook the challenge to develop a new temperature validation method using GPS radio occultation data. The results of her research were recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, in a paper on which she was lead author.

6 How to create a crash course in satellite remote sensing: One part knowledge, two parts enthusiasm

With support from the NOAA/NASA GOES-R Program Office last year, scientists from SSEC and CIMSS developed an intensive bootcamp in the fundamentals of satellite remote sensing and radiative transfer.

7 Weather Ready Nation: An update from Louis Uccellini

While in Madison to deliver a keynote address for the Satellites and Education Conference, Louis Uccellini, NWS Director and UW-Madison alumnus, answered some questions on some of the most important developments in the Weather Ready Nation initiative in the last year.

8 The world according to GATE (and GARP): Legacies of a 1974 field campaign

By nearly any measure, it was the largest and most complex international field experiment ever conducted in meteorology up to the mid-1970s. Known as the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE) it was the first observing phase of the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP) lasting 100 days during the summer of 1974.

9 Benchmarking the Earth’s Climate from Space: SSEC’s IR Instrument Prototype Ready for Flight

In September 2013, SSEC researchers reached an important milestone, bringing them one step (or, in this case, a giant leap) closer to seeing their newly developed satellite instrument technology in orbit: the Absolute Radiance Interferometer (ARI) instrument was declared ready for a spaceflight opportunity by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office.

10 Cloudy with a chance of football: SSEC delivers game-day forecast

Not long ago, come rain or storm, outdoor athletic events went on — regardless of the weather and its potential hazards. But today, improvements in weather forecasting are making it possible to ensure public safety during large outdoor college sporting events.

11 S-HIS instrument provides hurricane data from unmanned aircraft

For the third year in a row, SSEC was involved in a NASA-led field campaign designed to study hurricane formation and intensity in the Atlantic Ocean Basin. The Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel (HS3) campaign uses two Global Hawk unmanned aircraft equipped with scientific instruments, including SSEC’s Scanning HIS, to collect important data about the life cycles of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.

12 Milestone delivery: Cloud properties dataset to NCDC

Earlier this year, a team of NOAA and CIMSS scientists reached a major milestone by delivering an operational PATMOS-x (Pathfinder Atmospheres Extended) cloud properties Climate Data Record (CDR) to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).