March 2022: Noah Brauer
Noah Brauer is a Ph.D. candidate and Graduate Research Assistant in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma studying polarimetric radar observations and precipitation microphysics in tropical cyclones.
I am originally from Vancouver, Canada and ended up in Colorado where I eventually earned my Bachelor’s degree in geography with minors in mathematics and atmospheric science from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015. I also took additional meteorology classes at MSU Denver. After working for over two years at a weather software company in Denver, I moved to Norman, Oklahoma where I received my M.S. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2019, and later went on to pursue my PhD in meteorology.
- What first got you interested in the topics you chose to study?
I have always been obsessed with maps and geography in general. One memorable event that inspired me to pursue a career in meteorology was when lightning struck a pole next to my grandparents house in Cincinnati, Ohio when I was 6 years old. From then on, I kept a daily weather log, maintained a home weather station, and read books about the weather. I continue to have an endless curiosity about the atmosphere and why certain weather phenomena occur.
More specifically, Hurricane Harvey occurred shortly after I started graduate school and I had many questions about how a single storm can produce 60 inches of rainfall over the same area in just a few days. This event really got me interested in radar meteorology, tropical cyclones, and cloud physics.
- How has your area of research evolved since you first started doing research?
For my Master’s work, I focused mainly on ground-based polarimetric radar observations of Hurricane Harvey (2017). As I started my PhD, I began to compare ground radar observations of precipitation in tropical cyclones to space-borne radar observations of tropical cyclones. Both of these remote sensing methods have advantages and disadvantages, so using them together can help bridge the gap in a lot of our knowledge of precipitation processes in tropical cyclones. I have also participated in 5 field campaigns in landfalling hurricanes to collect mobile radar data, weather balloon observations, and disdrometer retrievals to better understand precipitation processes, characteristics, and variability in different parts of hurricanes. Later on in my PhD, I constructed a global database of tropical cyclones using space-borne radar observations to investigate how precipitation processes vary globally in these storms.
- Where do you see your area of research headed in the future?
There is still so much we don’t know about precipitation in tropical cyclones as they are difficult to accurately sample, especially when over the open ocean. I would like to improve our current algorithms to quantify precipitation in tropical cyclones (such as the particle size distribution), and compare these quantities throughout the entire evolution of tropical cyclones on a global scale. This will improve our representation of precipitation of tropical cyclones in numerical models to improve our current forecasting capabilities.
Further, I hope to apply my knowledge of ground radar retrievals and space-borne radar observations to other high-impact weather events such as winter storms and mid-latitude convection.
- What is your favorite part of your job?
I love being able to apply the theoretical knowledge that I have learned in numerous years of education to answer important science questions that have an enormous impact on people’s lives. The beautiful thing about research is that you can use your creativity to test new hypotheses and ideas that can ultimately advance our knowledge of the atmosphere, and why it does what it does.
Teaching and mentoring students has also been an incredibly enjoyable and valuable experience throughout my time at OU. Sharing my passion for the weather with other students and seeing them succeed and further advance the science is very rewarding and makes me very optimistic for the future of our field.
- What are some of your hobbies?
Outside of academia, I love spending time with my friends, family, and cats. I also thoroughly enjoy hiking, biking, soccer, cooking, homebrewing, and traveling.
- Who has inspired you most throughout your career?
Where to begin…First and foremost, my mother, father, sister, grandparents, and friends for always supporting me and my (sometimes annoying) obsession with meteorology, whether that be constantly having The Weather Channel on the TV, or seeing me immediately rush to the window to watch a thunderstorm in the middle of social gatherings. My Calculus 1 professor during my undergraduate days for teaching me that math isn’t scary also played a big role in my academic career (I struggled with math throughout high school). In atmospheric science, Prof. Jeff Basara, Prof. Pierre Kirstetter, Prof. John Cassano, Prof. Keah Schuenemann, and Prof. Sam Ng (amongst many others) have been huge inspirations for always believing in me and for further generating my passion for meteorology. Last but not least, all of my fantastic colleagues and collaborators throughout my career.