Desierto norte de Chile

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

General exam revisited

Friday Sept 8 at 8:00 a.m.

That's when I will go before my ph.d. committee and defend my general exam prospectus. For those who are curious, here is the final paragraph of the introductory chapter. The entire prospectus is roughly 100 pages, or about the same length as my masters thesis (which is now bound and resting quietly on a shelf in the OU Bizzell Library).

In this prospectus, I present an organized plan of research to answer the following question: “can tropical cyclones be accurately forecasted?” Three primary methods to answer this question are proposed. First, I will develop and employ a climatological tool that quickly and succinctly displays the spread of historical TC tracks for any point in the Atlantic Ocean basin. This tool will be useful in all parts of the basin because it is derived from prior storm motion trajectories and summarily captures information about the historical synoptic and mesoscale steering patterns. This tool will display the strength of the climatological signal and allow for rapid qualitative comparison between the historical tracks and the more robust NWP models. Second, I will use a high-resolution mesoscale model to investigate the ability to predict TC intensity change and mesoscale structure, and secondarily, TC track. This will be accomplished by coding into the model’s planetary boundary layer (PBL) equations a new drag coefficient parameterization derived from very recent (1997-2003) observations made in the TC boundary layer. The primary energy source (sink) of a TC is the air-sea exchange of enthalpy (momentum), and the drag coefficient is critical in the mesoscale model’s determination of this exchange. By adding a new, observationally-based parameterization for the drag coefficient, TC intensity forecasts should respond positively. This hypothesis will be tested using a series of model sensitivity studies. Third, I will use a high-resolution mesoscale model to examine the interaction between the TC circulation and the island topography of the southern Windward Islands. Previous numerical studies of terrain impact have focused on Taiwan; the Greater Antilles of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Cuba; and the Philippines; but the Windward Islands of the eastern Caribbean have been largely neglected. By varying the terrain representation in the mesoscale model, the interaction between the TC circulation and these islands will be examined for the first time at high horizontal resolution (< 3 km). Collectively, these three investigations will provide answers to the main question of this dissertation, “can tropical cyclones be accurately forecasted?”

Monday, August 21, 2006

General exam

The last few days have been incredibly busy. First the OU semester has begun anew, and of course I love it. Meeting new people, making new friendships, and reacquainting with old ones -- it is entirely awesome. These are perhaps the most exciting ten days in all the year. Everyone is generally in a good mood, and they are open to making new friends. If only the entire year was like this! A few highlights of the past few days:

- Wednesday FOCUS leadership reunion / planning / prayer (fyi - i think we should have more prayer)
- Thursday freshman move-in at the dorms, and international student tours
- Friday hang out with Ben and the gang
- Saturday map distribution on campus & Celia's back to school party for meteorology dept
- Sunday morning FOCUS, evening volleyball

Second, I have been working hard on my ph.d. general exam. I plan to hold it before I depart for Austria (which, incidentally, is 3 weeks from today). I'll post later this week about the general exam, maybe even give a few of the more important sentences.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Moved on up

Hey from my new place, where I'll be staying until I depart for Austria. I'm very gracious for Mrs. Dennis to provide me with these accommodations. I hope that I will not disrupt her routine too much. I already accidentally blocked her driveway while moving in yesterday, and I could tell she was frustrated with having to park on the street & walk in (hey, I would be frustrated too if some inconsiderate whipper-snapper blocked me out of my own home!) Plus it was 105 degrees & she was tired after running errands.

I'll try to post a photo or two of the place, to give ya a feel of my new abode. Peace.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Oh, splash.

Zach Barnes (shown, left, with 2 of his students in Ireland) is in town. In his furlough between years of english teaching in Kralupy, Czech Republic (which, coincidentally, does not yet exist on the 'country list' in Barbados. They do still have Czechoslovakia, whose country code was good enough to send a package last yr.) Zach and I went out to Moe's on Saturday and then chilled out pretty good. Then Chris Crowder joined us last night at Olive Garden for some tasty Italian food. Zach is a great guy; if you haven't gotten to know him, czech him out at

Today I gave my August Intersession students a midterm. The class will be complete next week (we meet 4 hrs/day for 12 days), and after that, I finish up my general exam prospectus & head east to Austria. Can you believe I head there in a month?

My root canal went smoothly last Wednesday. No more toothache for this fellow. And my pseudo-brown recluse bite (just above my right knee) also continues to improve. Medications over the past two weeks: ibuprophen, orajel, penicillin, codene, and another antibiotic. I will be very glad when this is all over.

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