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Week 7 Newsletter: July 16-20, 2018

RECCS is a 9-week summer student research program for Colorado community college students funded by the National Science Foundation and coordinated by CIRES Education Outreach and the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory.

For recent RECCS happenings, check out the RECCS blog.

RECCS Student Researcher Spotlight

This week, our first featured RECCS student researcher is Michael Moore. He is mentored by Aditya Choukulkar and Sunil Baidar of the NOAA/ESRL Chemical Sciences Division Atmospheric Remote Sensing Team based in Boulder, Colorado.
Michael Moore

Research Project: Creating Aerosol Profiles from Doppler Wind Lidar Measurements

Watch Mike's elevator speech

Michael (Mike) is a Colorado native, and currently studying at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado. Right after high school, Mike joined the Army as a Medic initially pursuing a career in medicine. However, after taking an Environmental Health class, he changed career paths to study the environment and the effects of human activity. When not in class, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, playing ultimate frisbee, and exploring local coffee shops/breweries. 

In Fall 2018, Mike will be transferring to CU Boulder to pursue a bachelor's degree in Geology (possibly Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) with a certificate in Hydrology.  Mike hopes to go on and address some of the world’s most challenging environmental problems, particularly surrounding water.

Creating Aerosol Profiles from Doppler Wind Lidar 

Mike Moore and his mentors Aditya Choukulkar and Sunil Baidar (above) are working on creating aerosol profiles from Doppler wind lidar measurements. 

Doppler wind lidar calculates the wind speed and direction using aerosols. As the signal from the lidar encounters an aerosol, it provides measurements of the backscatter which improves our understanding of aerosol profiles. Aerosols both absorb and reflect sunlight dramatically affecting Earth’s energy balance, particularly near the surface in the atmospheric boundary layer. Improving our understanding of the boundary layer impacts weather forecasting, climate models, renewable energy, and dispersion modeling.
For Mike's research, he uses data from the Doppler wind lidar (above) at the NOAA Table Mountain Test Facility located 10 km from Boulder, Colorado. This lidar data collection is part of the Cloud Properties Experiment (CPEX) being conducted this summer from June 1 through August 31. The main purpose of CPEX is to evaluate instrumentation for cloud properties, especially to support the SURFRAD (Surface Radiation) Network.

After collecting the Doppler wind lidar data, Mike removes any outliers due to dust plumes, structures, etc. Then he calculates the hourly average of the normalized data to produce the backscatter coefficient. Finally, he uses the hourly aerosol optical depth from AERONET to create the lidar ratio (extinction coefficient/backscatter coefficient). These results will improve our understanding of the atmospheric boundary layer.

Communication Workshop Update

The students reviewed and critiqued the main components of a science publication to improve their understanding of ideal introduction, methods and results sections. They received group and individual feedback on their methods section for their final poster and oral presentations. We also discussed the results and discussion section of their presentations (e.g. tables and figures), important details of the last week of the program, and how to improve their CVs/resumes.

RECCS Student Researcher Spotlight

This week, our second featured RECCS student researcher is Joseph Brown. He is mentored by Mylene Jacquemart and Kristy Tiampo (Director of CIRES Earth Science & Observation Center) of the Department of Geological Sciences at CU.
Joseph Brown

Research Project: Utilizing Long-Term Satellite Data to Track the Movement of the Slumgullion Landslide

Watch Joe's elevator speech

Joseph (Joe) is originally from Florida, but currently resides in Denver, Colorado, and is studying civil/environmental engineering. Directly after high school, he chose to jump into a finance degree program thinking that making as much money as possible would make him happy. After getting into the finance field, he realized that he should follow his interests and passions for the physical sciences rather than just choosing a career for the money. He learned that money will never buy happiness and that sitting behind a desk all day seems like not his way to live his life. Upon taking more science classes, researching careers, and communicating with others, he is leaning towards a career path in the hydrology side of the engineering world. Joe is very excited about this summer to learn how to do proper research and hopes that this experience will help guide him closer to choosing a niche in the physical sciences.

Exploring the Movement of Slumgullion Landslide

Joe Brown and his mentor Mylene Jacquemar (above) are tracking the movement of the Slumgullion landslide by comparing traditional ground-based radar imagery to longer-term data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-1 satellites.

The slow-moving Slumgullion landslide is located near Lake City, Colorado. Previous research on the Slumgullion landslide has primarily included laser tracking, extensometers, ground based radar, or satellite data that was acquired approximately only once per month. This research project is the first to use longer-term satellite data to track the the movement of the Slumgullion landslide.
An interferogram illustrates a pattern formed by wave interference, usually shown in a diagram like that shown above or in a photograph. To track the movement of the Slumgullion landslide, Joe uses a GAMMA Portable Radar Interferometer (GPRI). The GAMMA GPRI is an aperture radar which can be used to perform radar interferometry to measure ground deformation. More landslide movement (ground deformation) is indicated by a larger phase change. The Slumgullion landslide is shown in the center of the interferogram above.

Joe also uses airborne satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B that are both C-band Synthetic Aperture Radars. This satellite data are downloaded from Alaska Satellite Facility’s Vertex portalIn order to compare the satellite and ground-based measurements, he calculates the line-of-sight deformation from the phase measurements. These comparisons allow Joe to assess the effectiveness of each method for future monitoring of landslide movement.

Student Tips

  • Identify your final project objectives and timeline for completion with your mentor.
  • Create and use a system to keep on top of final project deadlines.
  • Reach out for support, if needed; we're here to help you!

Student Deadlines

  • Continue to edit Introduction and Methods sections.
  • Draft up Results and Discussion sections.
  • Continue to add References.

Mentor Tips

  • Work with your student researcher on the introduction, methods and results sections for the poster and oral presentations. 
  • Check in with your student researcher regarding their concerns and consider sharing your approaches to dealing with deadlines and stress.
  • And, of course, let us know if we can help!
Copyright © 2018 CIRES Education Outreach, All rights reserved.

RECCS is funded by the National Science Foundation Grant Award Number 1461281

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