- Number 363 |
- May 21, 2012
SRNL meteorologist proud of the breadth of field
Matthew J. Parker.
Matthew J. Parker of the Atmospheric Technologies Group at DOE's Savannah River National Laboratory is proud to be part of a profession — meteorology — that so many people rely on. “The weather forecast is still one of the, if not the, most anticipated portions of the local newscast,” he says. “And if you’re not a Weather Channel junkie, you probably know someone who is. The weather matters in people's lives, and that's why meteorologists study to become professionals. We truly want to help protect lives and property.”
He’s equally proud of the other, less well-known work that meteorologists do. “While forecasting the weather is very important to our work within SRNL, that's not the only thing meteorologists do. We perform all kinds of studies where meteorological or climatological data can be used to provide the answers our customers are seeking. For example, we can project downwind concentrations of an airborne release, whether actual or simulated. The location and concentration — sometimes over many miles — would be of interest, for example, to emergency response personnel,” he says. Working from the other side of the equation, he adds, “If you have an airborne sample with concentration ‘x,’ the next question is ‘Where did this come from?’ We can make those kinds of assessments, too.”
The more that he knows about what his customers really need, the more precise the answers he can provide. “For example, if my customer wants to know if it is going to rain between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday, I can zero in on weather forecast model data and derive the answer,” he says. “Same goes for the customer who is looking for a period of four hours this week with winds less than 10 mph. I can review weather forecast information with specific requirements in mind.”
He is impressed by how accurate his fellow meteorologists are, and how the field continues to improve. “In the last 20 years of my career,” he says, “I can tell you that weather forecast models have become remarkably more accurate. Weather forecasting has moved leaps and bounds forward in accuracy due to improved modeling, computing infrastructure, measurements.”Parker, a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, was recently appointed to a two-year term as Commissioner of the AMS Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise (CWCE). The CWCE’s overarching goal is to engage the government, private and academic sectors from within the AMS membership and beyond on wide-ranging topics of interest to the profession, including energy, renewable energy, water resources, and resiliency to impacts from hurricanes. New initiatives include investigating the links between weather, climate and human health; applications for the burgeoning field of mobile (vehicle) observations; linking disparate meteorological monitoring networks ; and the use of social media for mapping disasters. Improving climate change communications/discussions and uncertainty in weather/climate forecasts are also presently being undertaken.
Submitted by DOE's Savannah River National Laboratory