It Looks Like Rain-Or Does It?
We all like to joke about how often the weather forecast is wrong. Increasingly, though, getting forecasts right is no laughing matter. Of course, that's always been the case for fishermen, avid golfers, outdoor enthusiasts and others who have had their day ruined by unexpected rain. But with a changing climate bringing bigger storms and disturbances, getting the forecast is right getting even more important.
The trouble is, despite bigger computers and better mathematical models, most weather-tracking equipment has trouble dealing with two very basic features of the weather: clouds and rain. Even though clouds and precipitation are-obviously-closely associated, current systems do not allow meteorologists to properly observe them both: they end up focusing on either cloud cover or rain, when what really matters is how the two are connected.
As Canada Research Chair in Radar Applications for Weather and Climate Research, Dr. Pavlos Kollias is working to go beyond this artificial way of looking at weather and find a way to properly see clouds and rain at the same time. In conjunction with McGill's J. S. Marshall Radar Observatory, the leading Canadian research center for radar meteorology, Kollias will develop and implement new, ultra-sensitive radar systems and remote sensors that much more effectively track clouds and precipitation.
More than just predicting the weather, the new facility will provide a holistic view of the water and energy cycles in the atmosphere, helping us better understand the nature of our climate-crucial at a time when it is changing right before our eyes. The research will lead to better models of how and why clouds form and precipitation occurs, and will be useful not just in Canada, but in all countries situated at similar latitudes.