ISU meteorology student is first visiting scientist in new joint NSF-NOAA program

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Brian Squitieri is gaining hands-on experience that could improve thunderstorm and severe weather predictions. Squitieri, an Iowa State University graduate student in meteorology, is the first visiting scientist to be enrolled in a new joint program between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Brian Squitieri is working on a newer short-range weather model used by the National Weather Service.

“Brian is getting the chance to interact with operational forecasters and modelers to understand the biggest problems they are seeing in the forecasting of thunderstorms and severe weather,” said Bill Gallus, professor of meteorology in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, an academic program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Gallus submitted the winning proposal to NSF, where it was then sent to NOAA for approval, sending Squitieri to College Park, Md., for the six-month program. Squitieri is working on a newer short-range weather model used by the National Weather Service.

He is helping improve the weather model’s accuracy through high-resolution simulations while still getting useful output within a short period of time and using the least amount of computer power. He is gauging what type of parameters cause the greatest inaccuracies and what optimal setups make for better forecasts.

“It is essential that these models produce output in a timely manner since many forecasters use this information to make short-term forecasts involving severe weather such as flash floods and tornado producing thunderstorms,” Squitieri said. "Typically, models are not allowed to be past 15 minutes late in completing their entire runs, so where accuracy and reliability are of equal importance, efficiency becomes a top priority in atmospheric modeling.”

The experience will also contribute to his Ph.D. research. Squitieri specializes in nighttime summer thunderstorm complexes that form across the plains. He said the thunderstorms are mainly fed by a phenomenon known as the Great Plains Low-Level Jet, a current that pumps warm, moist air from the south into the Plains States.

“Success in this research endeavor may lead to the improvement of predicting thunderstorms and severe weather, which would benefit NOAA, the National Weather Service and all those who rely on thunderstorm forecasts,” Squitieri said.


About Liberal Arts and Sciences The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.

NEWS RELEASE College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University

Contacts: Brian Squitieri, Graduate Research Assistant and NOAA-NCEP/NSF Visiting Scientist ( Laura Wille, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications (