Plymouth State University

NHSGC Affiliate

PSU's Gregg Center buildingPlymouth State University (PSU) has the only meteorology degree program in the state of NH. Over 80% of PSU students in the Dept. of Chemical, Earth, Atmospheric and Physical Sciences are meteorology majors. Every year nearly 200 students enroll in the general education "Weather" course.

PSU's Gregg Center classroom, equipped with multiple computer workstationsThe Judd Gregg Meteorological Institute, est. in 2003, houses state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, a fully-equipped rooftop weather observation center, a meteorological data center, and a television broadcasting center where aspiring weather forecasters can hone their skills on local TV broadcasts.

PSU Weather broadcast classroom, featuring a large blue screen and television monitors The PSU meteorology program takes a "hands-on" approach. Research is heavily encouraged, with summer programs at facilities like NASA/Goddard, the National Environmental Data Information Service, the National Center for Environmental Prediction, the Storm Prediction Center, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Most PSU students participating in summer or senior research programs have gone on to graduate school. Students focusing on secondary science education are provided a variety of student teaching opportunities.

Plymouth State Weather Center website offers the latest meteorological observations and forecasts, air quality forecasts, and more.

NHSGC Student Support

The NH Space Grant Consortium provides student support in the form of scholarships to meteorology majors. Beginning students typically receive scholarships and retain them as long as they stay in the major and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Two $1000 awards are made to students entering their senior year. As much as possible, awards address the under-representation of females and minorities in the program. All Space Grant students  are guaranteed a senior-year undergraduate research experience.

Summer fellowship stipends provide two students with the opportunity to work full-time for on projects developed locally. Juniors apply for these positions by submitting a research proposal, and are selected based on their proposal and academic record.

NHSGC Graduate Fellow at PSU:

Sarah Al-Momar

Sarah Al-Momar MEET SARAH Al-Momar, 2014 meteorology graduate student at Plymouth State Univ. and a UCAR SOARS Protégé. Her research focus is on ln-Cloud Convective Turbulence and how it might relate to lightning and storm microphysics. In explaining the relevance, Sarah points out that "NTSB data shows that ~70% of commercial aviation weather-related accidents stem from turbulence, and a large fraction of the turbulence-related accidents are caused by Convectively-Induced Turbulence (CIT)."

At present, we know that: CIT is dependent on in-cloud dynamics such as strong updraft, which brings on a robust mixed phase region leading to electrification; that high lightning frequencies relate to high turbulence intensity; and that storms show lightning peaking in a mixed phase, with CIT peaking just above this during the mature stage.

As a UCAR SOARS Protégé, she spent summer 2014 at the Natl. Ctr. for Atmos. Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Co., continuing her CIT research, but with a new twist—at NCAR, Sarah will have access to dual doppler radar data, in which the same storm is viewed with two sets of radar, in 3-D. That 3-D view provides a clearer view of the wind field within the storm.

Sarah Al-MomarUpon return to Plymouth in fall 2014, Sarah will complete her M.S. thesis using dual doppler analyses to look for a relationship between turbulence and lighting, particularly a temporal one. Does one event occur before the other or do they occur at the same time?

This topic will have added interest as we look forward to a Geostationary Lightning Mapper on the upcoming GOES-R satellite, to launch in Oct. 2015. This will enable us to view lighting on a global scale, potentially determining if lightning could indicate areas of expected turbulence.

With her M.S. in Applied Meteorology (anticipated 12/2014), Sarah hopes to work in the transportation industry, perhaps in aviation meteorology. She enjoys both forecasting and research, hoping for a job with a mix of both. It's quite likely that someday she'll have a hand in studying GOES-R geostationary lightning mapper data.