Several new scientists have joined the Water Survey’s Climate and Atmospheric Science team in the past 18 months, bringing new scientific expertise and greater research capacity. The team is investigating the potential statewide impacts of climate change, including extreme precipitation changes (flooding, drought), availability of atmospheric resources for green energy generation in Illinois, changes in the urban heat island with time and how various ways of mitigating the heat island may impact Chicago climate, impacts of increased irrigation on the regional and larger-scale climate, and integration of climate models into systems that take into account human population growth, health, and activities. In addition, members of the group conduct cutting-edge research to improve weather models and develop tools for predicting dispersion.
Get to know all of the members of this Water Survey team!
Dave Kristovich, research scientist and section head: Kristovich’s research interest is on how local variations in the earth's surface alter low-level atmospheric flow fields and, ultimately, change larger-scale weather and climate conditions. This involves understanding how the surface interacts with the lower atmosphere (called boundary layer meteorology), storm-scale physical processes (mesoscale meteorology), and cloud/precipitation microphysics. A great example is lake-effect snow storms, which can drop heavy snow in northeastern Illinois and other regions around the Great Lakes.
Sudheer Reddy Bhimireddy, postdoctoral researcher: Bhimireddy is interested in using mathematical models to study extreme weather conditions and specialized models, called large eddy simulations, to study the formation of buoyant upward-moving air. He is working on a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation that collected observations of nocturnal air flows in stable, light-wind conditions.
Liang Chen, assistant research scientist-climatology: Chen focuses on climate modeling and land-atmosphere interactions. Current work includes assessing climate impacts on renewable energy, understanding the role of soil moisture in heatwaves, and investigating the feedback of vegetation and agricultural practice on climate and extreme events. Recently, he has been investigating how atmospheric resources for renewable energy generation (such as solar and wind energy) may change across Illinois and larger areas in response to climate change.
Trent Ford, State Climatologist: The office of the Illinois State Climatologist provides weather and climate data, maps, and information for Illinois farmers, government agencies, and policymakers. Before taking this role in 2019 Ford was an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he taught courses and carried out research on heat wave predictability and worked to develop ways to use soil moisture data to improve drought monitoring.
Ruiying Gao, visiting scholar: Gao’s work focuses on the role of particulate matter and aerosol in drainage flow under stable boundary layers. She is working on the SAVANT (Stable Atmospheric Variability and Transport) project, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Ashish Sharma, assistant research scientist-climatology: Sharma is interested in land/ocean/atmosphere interactions at a range of spatial scales that are relevant to the management of human and natural systems, especially in urban regions such as Chicago. His research focuses on reducing vulnerabilities and increasing readiness in urban, agricultural, and natural environments in a changing climate. He performs targeted dynamical downscaling experiments with the goal of creating “bridges” between global, regional, and micro-scale modeling. He collaborates with cities and institutions to work on environmental issues related to heat, fog, air quality, and high-impact weather.
Junming Wang, agricultural meteorology: Wang conducts integrated research with professionals in a variety of fields, including hydrology, soil science, environmental science, geospatial information science, agricultural/biological sciences, agricultural engineering, and computer science. His work focuses on how the lower atmosphere interacts with the surface, mainly in agricultural regions, and how this may impact air quality, dispersion of pollutants, the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds through pollen movement between fields, and nighttime movement of herbicides in farm fields.
Wuyang Zhang, hourly programmer: Zhang is interested in combining digital signal processing and statistical methods to deliver software packages for atmospheric science. His current work focuses on lidar firmware and data visualization, lake-effect cloud morphology, and online and smartphone apps.