‘Tornadoes and Deep Atmospheric Convection’ Topic of two Geography Awareness Week Presentations at UNK Thursday, Nov. 19.

Dr. Jean Eichhorst
instructor, geography department, 308.865.8684

Research on tornadoes, their life cycle and form will be the focus of two presentations Thursday, Nov. 19, as part of Geography Awareness Week at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Dr. Adam Houston, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will talk about “The Impact of Air Mass Boundaries on Tornadic Storms” at 3:30 p.m. in Copeland Hall, Room 132. At 7 p.m., Dr. Houston will present “Using Unmanned Aircraft to Probe Tornadic Storms in VORTEX-2.” The evening talk will be in Copeland Hall, Room 130. The presentations are free and open to the public.

The basis of both talks will be his $11.9 million research project, VORTEX-2. This past summer, Dr. Houston and his 11-member team flew a $25,000 unmanned, radio-controlled plane near a tornado in order to help them understand the tornado’s life cycle and form. VORTEX-2, which stands for the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2, is being conducted by Dr. Houston and his team. They plan to study more tornadoes and super-cell thunderstorms again in the summer of 2010. The research gained national attention this past summer.

Dr. Houston received his B.S. in meteorology from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After serving as a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University, he became an assistant professor at UNL in 2006. At UNL, he teaches classes that include dynamic meteorology, radar meteorology, the dynamics of severe thunderstorms and computational fluid dynamics.
“The initiation of deep atmospheric convection”

Deep convection in the atmosphere involves the vertical transport of heat and moisture through a considerable fraction of the troposphere.  It plays a significant role in regulating the water cycle and thus regional and local variations in the occurrence of deep convection can significantly impact how water resources are managed.  Deep convection can also produce large hail, damaging winds, tornadoes, and flooding rains and can therefore pose a significant threat to health and safety.  Understanding the initiation of deep convection is the first step towards understanding deep convection as a whole.  Fundamental principles of deep convection initiation along with results from the latest research in this area will be presented.
The UNK geography and physics department is sponsoring Geography Awareness Week events. For more information, contact Dr. Jean Eichhorst, an instructor in the UNK geography department, at 308.865.8684.