Department of Earth Sciences - Meteorology
Millersville Meteorology is a flagship program of the University, one that is nationally recognized for its deep and broad immersion in the atmospheric and climate sciences, and innovative curriculum in space weather, air quality, water resources, data analytics, and emergency response and disaster preparedness. Our graduates enter the workforce as knowledgeable, skilled and competent professionals. In 2020, Millersville became only the seventh university in Pennsylvania to be designated as a StormReady University.
X-Band weather Radar installed at millersville university
Climavision, a climate-tech data pioneer, has partnered with Millersville University and installed a new weather radar system on campus. The radar, placed atop Millersville University's water tower, will supplement weather coverage in between the four closest S-Band Next Generation Weather Radars (NEXRADs), which are located near State College, Pennsylvania; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Ellendale, Delaware; and Sterling, Virginia. Because of regional topography and the nature of weather radar technology, the radar beam moves higher in the atmosphere the further it gets from the radar location. As a result, gaps in S-Band radar coverage exist across the United States. This leaves some areas, such as Lancaster County, exposed to weather phenomena that often happen in the lower atmosphere, such as snow squalls, sleet, ice, and tornadoes. The new dual-polarization, X-Band weather radar is designed specifically to fill these small gaps by providing the highest-resolution view of what's happening close to the ground. This will enable forecasters and emergency management officials to better plan, prepare, and respond to volatile weather situations.
Millersville's meteorology program has long been considered a nationally-recognized flagship program of the University. Thanks to the partnership with Climavision, students in the program will now have access to data from an X-band weather surveillance radar. Faculty and students will be able to use the radar data for teaching, research, projects, grants, scholarship activities, and manuscript and conference publications. Millersville University alum Dr. Jim Kurdzo, a radar scientist at MIT's Lincoln Labs, helped design the algorithm that determined that the Lower Susquehanna Valley is one of the top three locations in the contiguous U.S. to have a gap in low-level coverage.
"We're excited about our collaboration with Millersville University for lots of reasons," said Climavision cofounder and CEO Chris Goode. "We're not only closing a critical gap in weather surveillance but also get to support the future of weather science by providing students with an invaluable learning tool."
The partnership allows Climavision to lease the site for 20 years. The installation took place on June 27, 2023, and the radar will be fully operational for research, teaching, and weather-detection services in October. The video below highlights the partnership between Climavision and Millersville, as well as applications of and opportunities surrounding the new X-Band radar.
Faculty & students assist achd in validation of wind/temperature measurements
On October 4-5, three meteorology students from Millersville University assisted the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) with a research initiative involving Sound Detection and Ranging (SODAR) observations and Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) retrievals with rawinsonde measurements in Clairton, Pennsylvania. Under the direction of faculty members Dr. Greg Blumberg and Dr. Richard Clark, as well as Weather Center Director Kyle Elliott, the students launched weather balloons to validate the on-site SODAR measurement, a requirement of the EPA. A radiosonde, or instrument used to transmit pressure, temperature, and relative humidity measurements at various levels of the atmosphere, was attached to each balloon. When a radiosonde is tracked so that wind speed and direction measurements are also provided, it is called a rawinsonde observation. The data collected was used to better understand the changes in the diurnal transition of the planetary boundary layer in the Monongahela Valley and its impact on the transport of pollutants.
Each year since 2018, Millersville faculty and students have conducted a series of rawinsonde launches over the course of 2-3 days for the purpose of validating the wind and virtual temperatures measurements obtained by the ACHD using a Scintec Acoustic SODAR system with a RASS extension.
Millersville Meteorology students deploy aerokats for pbl research
Millersville Meteorology students in Dr. Greg Blumberg's Boundary Layers & Turbulence class (ESCI 448) deployed the first small-scale, multi-kite network to characterize the low-level Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) weather conditions. The AEROKATS systems used is National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) technology provided by the AEROKATS and ROVER Education Network (AREN) Science Activation Team.
Millersville METEORology students Excel in wxchallenge
WxChallenge is a collegiate-focused meteorological forecasting competition. It is a non-profit entity, whose income is used to maintain necessary infrastructure, promote the competition to students and faculty, and provide non-cash awards (trophies) for excellence in forecasting. Forecasters predict the daily high and low temperatures (in degrees Fahrenheit), maximum sustained wind speed (in knots), and cumulative liquid precipitation amount (in inches) for select locations across the United States. To allow for fair competition, forecasters are separated into categories. Category 3 forecasters include junior- and senior-level students, and Category 4 forecasters include freshman- and sophomore-level students. The competition runs for 10 weeks in the Fall semester and 10 weeks in the Spring semester. During this time, there are a total of 10 locations in which forecasts are made. In each location, forecasts are produced for a two-week period. At the end of that period, the top two students in each category receive trophies for their outstanding performance. There is an additional three-week tournament following the end of the Spring semester for the top 64 overall best forecasters.
Millersville Meteorology students have a long track record of success in WxChallenge. The 2022-2023 academic year has been no exception, with multiple students across all class levels winning awards. Below is a list of the top finishers from Millersville in select cities:
- Peter Corman: Runner-up finish (Category 4) in Knoxville, Tennessee (Oct. 10 - Oct. 24).
- Mark Battle: 1st-place finish (Category 4) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Oct. 24 - Nov. 7).
- Alex Massa: Runner-up finish (Category 3) in Olympia, Washington (Nov. 7 - Nov. 21).
- Peter Corman: Runner-up finish (Category 4) in Denver, Colorado (Jan. 23 - Feb. 6)
- Alex Sullivan: 1st-place finish (Category 4) in Atlanta, Georgia (Feb. 6 - Feb. 20).
- Gavin Morgan: Runner-up finish (Category 4) in Atlanta, Georgia (Feb. 6 - Feb. 20).
- Matthew Teare: 1st-place finish (Category 3) in Augusta, Maine (Feb. 20 - Mar. 6).
- Peter Corman: 1st-place finish (Category 4) in San Angelo, Texas (Mar. 6 - Mar. 20).
- Ethan Kerr: Runner-up finish (Category 4) in San Angelo, Texas (Mar. 6 - Mar. 20).
Congratulations on demonstrating true forecasting acumen in these difficult cities!
Millersville students, alumni, and faculty attend space weather workshop
The 2023 Space Weather Workshop was held from April 17-21 in Boulder, CO, and brought together instructors, graduates, and students of the space weather programs at Millersville University. Pictured in the front row are, from left-to-right: instructors Drs. Tamitha Skov, Jennifer Meehan, and Sepi Yalda, who is also the program coordinator, and program graduates Sara Housseal and Samantha Carlson. Pictured in the back row are, from left-to-right: instructors Michael Cook and Dr. Richard Clark, program founder and emeritus faculty, Tim Keebler, Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, Athony Williams, graduate student in the Integrated Scientific Applications program, and Wes Taylor, undergraduate meteorology major with a minor in Heliophysics and Space Weather. The group presented three posters and participated in the week-long workshop, whose banquet keynote speaker, Erin Wolf of Ball Aerospace, amazed the audience with a presentation and stunning images from the James Webb Space Telescope.
Millersville alumni, faculty, and students attend 103rd ams conference
Millersville Meteorology students, alumni, and faculty attended the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Conference in Denver, Colorado, from January 7-13, 2023. For the first time since 2020, the conference was held both virtually and in-person. Students were able to network with students from other universities and the professionals in attendance. On January 10, students, alumni, and faculty attended the Millersville University Alumni and Friends Reception. Pictured below are a group of 4 alumni at the reception: Jason Taylor, Amber Liggett, Melissa Burt, and McArthur Jones (from left-to-right).
Several students had abstracts accepted for poster presentations at the student conference. Pictured below (left) is senior Alexander Massa discussing his summer research experience with a colleague. Alex participated in Penn State University's Climate Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and worked with Dr. Gregory Jenkins researching the variability of pollution across western and southern Africa on diurnal and seasonal timescales. He used data collected from low-cost air monitoring sensors located in countries such as Cabo Verde, Nigeria, and Angola to produce plots showing how particulate matter concentrations vary over time and impact air quality. Also pictured below (right) is Millersville's own Dr. Richard Clark, the 2022 president of the AMS, kicking off the Presidential Forum. As president, Dr. Clark spearheaded efforts to foster outreach and cross-sector collaboration across the enterprise, promote scientific breadth and diversity, stimulate opportunities for members, and use data to propel new science, create new knowledge and insights, guide policies and decisions, and advance the scientific, environmental, and societal dimensions of the weather, water, and climate enterprise.
Four members of Millersville Meteorology's Project TILTTING, or the Thermodynamic Investigation of LCL Thresholds at Tornadogenesis and its Influence in the Northeast and Great Plains, also designed posters for the student conference. Pictured are Ryan Argenti (top left), Rhiannon Cahoe (top right), Shane Martrich (bottom left), and Sam Leppo (bottom right). They discussed unique means of fundraising for the project, specifications of their prototype tornado probe, a mathematical proof of concept for deploying the probe into a tornado by drone, and a rear-inflow jet's influence on a Quasi-Linear Convective System (QLCS) in southeastern PA on August 30, 2022. Ryan and Shane also spoke at the 23rd Symposium on Meteorological Observation and Instrumentation: Innovative Technological Advances for Mesoscale Observing Systems on the final day of the conference.
OUTREACH AT Burrowes Elementary SCHOOL
On November 9, 2023, seven Millersville Meteorology students gave an interactive presentation on weather and climate at Burrowes Elementary School in Lancaster, PA. They educated the 3rd-grade class on topics such as the water cycle, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), winter weather patterns, balloon launches, thunderstorms, and storm chasing protocols. Following the presentation, the students fielded questions from the 3rd-graders and their teachers. Millersville Meteorology is grateful to have participated in this incredible outreach opportunity!
Weather Balloon Launch 10-03-2023
Millersville meteorology faculty and students conduct a weather balloon launch for the UNIV 103 classes.
Millersville meteorology faculty and students conducted a pair of weather balloon launches for the UNIV 103 classes on October 3, 2023, for demonstration purposes and in preparation for the Clairton project near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A radiosonde, or instrument used to transmit pressure, temperature, relative humidity, and wind measurements at various levels of the atmosphere, was attached to each balloon.
First Vision Aerial Drone Flight 11-10-2021
The 15-lb. payload capacity of our Vision Aerial drone is sufficient to carry boundary layer instruments.
This is the first flight of our high payload capacity Vision Aerial drone. This new airborne platform is capable of lifting about 15 lbs. of payload, which is sufficient to carry boundary layer and air chemistry instruments. We sincerely appreciate the contributions made by alumni and friends during our One-Day Give that provided 50% of the funding for this drone, with the remaining 50% coming from the University.
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Research, Activities and News
project tiltting created by Millersville METEORology students
Remember the group of Millersville meteorology students who chased the EF-3 tornado in Mullica Hill, NJ, during Hurricane Ida? Under the leadership of Weather Information Center Director Kyle Elliott, they have created the Thermodynamic Investigation of LCL Thresholds at Tornadogenesis and its Influence in the Northeast and Great Plains (TILTTING) project. For details on the project and how to support the students, visit TILTTING (millersville.edu/tiltting). Nearly 20 students will participate in the project, with over half deploying to the Great Plains for a two-week period during Spring or Summer 2023 to conduct tornado research. This “chase team” will obtain three atmospheric profiles of temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind velocity for each storm event: one 30-60 minutes before, one during, and one 30-60 minutes after Tornadogenesis. The students have also designed their own probes that will be used to penetrate and measure wind velocity and pressure perturbations within the condensation funnel of a tornado. Intensive Observation Periods (IOPs) will also be conducted in the Northeast, with teams of 6-10 students deploying on a rotating basis. Three IOPs already took place in the Northeast during Summer 2022. Incorporation of this data into numerical weather prediction models will increase accuracy of severe weather forecasts, improve tornado warning lead times and, most importantly, save lives.
millersville METEOROLOGY JOINS IMPACTS
Millersville University meteorology faculty members, Drs. Richard Clark and Todd Sikora, received a $77,600 grant to participate in the NASA Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS). For more, see IMPACTS (nasa.gov). Millersville was sought out to obtain atmospheric profiles of temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind velocity from the surface to the stratosphere in locations where there are perceived gaps in the current upper-air profiling network.
A team of Millersville meteorology students deployed to select sites closer to the Atlantic coast, one near Brick, NJ, and the other near Stroudsburg, PA, where they provided support for the scientific objectives of IMPACTS. Millersville was funded to support seven intensive observing periods (IOPs) in 2021-2022, one in which a mobile profile platform was deployed, and five IOPs in 2022-2023. Dr. Greg Blumberg and Weather Information Center Director Kyle Elliott took over as the senior personnel from Millersville on IMPACTS in 2022-2023. Each mission is designed to launch up to 12 balloons with attached sensors (radiosondes) while nor'easters track up the Atlantic coast. Each year, 20-30 students participated in the project in teams consisting of four students, with the teams deploying on a rotating basis.
Meteorology Student receives lapenta internship
Keelie N. Steiner, originally from Sharpsville, PA, and currently in her second year at Millersville University, is a meteorology major with minors in mathematics, environmental hazards, and emergency management. She is also a member of the Honors College. Within the meteorology department, Keelie is a member of the Weather Balloon Team and participates in the NASA research project IMPACTS. Outside of academics, Keelie is involved in Millersville University’s Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Fraternity. Keelie is a tour guide for Undergraduate Admissions and also a mathematics tutor. In her free time, she enjoys golfing, reading, playing pickleball, and hanging out with friends and family. As a member of the Honors College, Keelie is studying particulate matter of the size 2.5 microns and smaller and its effect on public health for her undergraduate thesis. She is in the process of choosing the geographical region on which to focus her research and is finding Central America interesting. After graduating from Millersville, Keelie plans on attending graduate school and entering into a Ph.D. program in atmospheric chemistry with a research interest in air quality and public health. After finishing her schooling, she wants to become a professor.
As a recipient of the William M. Lapenta NOAA Student Internship Program, Keelie will be spending her summer at NOAA’s Climate Program Office, working on the “Data Visualization and/or Information Management for Earth Radiation Budget” project. The Lapenta Internship is awarded to an undergraduate sophomore or junior with an interest in science and who exhibits strong connections and relevance to NOAA's mission statement. This internship is in memory of Dr. William (Bill) M. Lapenta. Dr. Lapenta's influence in atmospheric sciences and encouragement for younger generations leaves a legacy of his career. Dr. Lapenta's passion for the field and his willingness to mentor interns left a lasting impression. As a tribute to his impressive career, NOAA introduced an internship program in his memory. Read more about the Lapenta Internship Program >>
Highlight Video of MU Meteorology Research Opportunities
Space Weather Group Conducts First High-Altitude Balloon Measurements
A small group of meteorology majors, known as the Space Weather Group, conducted a maiden launch of a balloon carrying a payload of instruments for measuring X-rays, Gamma rays, and UV rays, as well as a radiosonde for collecting weather data. The balloon carried its payload to an altitude of 103,000 feet... Read more >>