September 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Houser Gives Keynote on Tornado Intensity, Correlation with Topography, Land Cover

Dr. Jana Houser

Dr. Jana Houser

Dr. Jana Houser, Assistant Professor of Geography, was recently invited to be a keynote speaker at the American Meteorological Society’s 38th Radar Meteorology Conference held in Chicago from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1.

Houser gave a presentation titled “Correlations between Topography and Land Cover with Tornado Intensity using Rapid-Scan Mobile and WSR-88D Radar Observations in a Geographic Information System Framework” that highlighted the work she and her former students, alumni Nathaniel McGinnis ’13 and Kelly Butler, have completed.

The study investigates how geographic land characteristics such as hills and valleys and changes in surface coverage such as forests, fields and urban areas affect the intensity of tornadoes, using a statistical approach to examine correlations between the various parameters being investigated. The work concluded that there are indeed statistical relationships between tornado intensity and the ground characteristics over which a vortex traverses; however, these relationships are not ubiquitous from case to case. This area of research has not been examined in a statistical manner and the study serves as an observational foundation for future work including numerical modeling to further investigate these relationships.

“The research these grad students have participated in is really ground-breaking work. Not only does their research prepare them for a career in scientific inquiry, but they are making a notable contribution to the fundamental understanding meteorologists have of non-atmospheric factors that are important to tornado processes,” Houser said.

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