Focusing on the future: Researchers participate in learning institute

CIMMS Research Assistant Jami Boettcher and Assistant Director for NOAA Relations and Senior Research Scientist Sebastian Torres at the NEXRAD Weather Radar class, which is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

Ever wonder how a radar functions and gets those colorful images seen on tv and the internet? As part of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Oklahoma, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies researchers are teaching a class on NEXRAD Weather Radar.

The nearly month long class — “NEXRAD Weather Radar: How it works and what those images tell us” — focuses on the NEXRAD radar network, including how the signal is transmitted, received and processed, and upgrades like Dual Polarization.

“I’ve taught for OLLI as a representative of the National Weather Service for several years, showcasing weather as an exciting science, as well as the activities of the many organizations at the National Weather Center,” said Jami Boettcher, CIMMS research assistant. “As a CIMMS employee, it was time to showcase CIMMS and the incredible talent and expertise of its people.”

Boettcher said the purpose of the course is for people to better understand how the national weather warning system works, improve personal safety habits and provide exposure of OU’s national and global importance in meteorology, weather radar education and research.

Boettcher is working with CIMMS employees on teaching the course, including Assistant Director for NOAA Relations and Senior Research Scientist Sebastian Torres and Research Associate David Schvartzman.

“As challenging as it is to explain complex radar engineering concepts to non experts, it’s been a fun and rewarding experience,” Torres said. “As scientists, I believe it’s very important to engage with our community to socialize the critical role of CIMMS in support of the NOAA mission.”

“Torres, Schvartzman, and I have been able to present the critical relationship between radar engineering and the needs of the meteorologists when they use the radar images,” Boettcher said. “Our goal for this semester is for the members to gain an appreciation of how difficult and complex it is to build and maintain the NEXRAD fleet. By using case studies of significant weather events, we are teaching them how to interpret the images and showing them how the radar supports the NWS meteorologists in making critical warning decisions.”

OLLI promotes lifelong learning and personal growth of adults aged 50 years and older through a variety of non-credit courses. Courses range from one-time offerings to longer courses, like Boettcher’s on NEXRAD radar.

The last NEXRAD class is November 9.

“OLLI provides access to ‘courses’ — no tests, no assignments — taught by top faculty at OU,” Boettcher said. “The National Weather Center has a rich array of weather and radar expertise that serves the entire U.S. The OLLI program has been most welcoming in including NWC experts as faculty for their courses, which have been well received by the members.”