Ahmani Browne, a senior studying marine biology at Mitchell College, is taking part in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), a 10-week hands-on summer internship at PRI that will enable undergraduate students from populations underrepresented in graduate study at Illinois to explore careers in applied science.
Browne is working with Liang Chen, a research climatologist at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), studying the risks of winter severity in the Midwest due to climate change.
Browne and Chen use state-of-the-art climate models to quantify past and future winter storms, and investigate strong-wind and heavy snowfall events using climate simulations. These assessments will assist in projecting the risks of winter severity across the Midwest in the near-term and long-term future, and shed light on how climate change affects extreme events across the contiguous United States.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Ahmani on my project of winter blizzards. He is a quick learner and a hard-working young man. After seeing his presentation at the Illinois Summer Research Symposium, I am very proud of his accomplishment this summer,” said Chen.
Hailing from the Caribbean island country Antigua and Barbuda, Browne draws inspiration from his homeland where even the slightest atmospheric and climate changes can have major impacts to island nations and cause irreparable harm to the delicate marine environments.
He recently answered some questions about his internship experience.
Describe, briefly, what you are doing during your Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) internship.
During my SROP internship, I have been working with my mentor Liang Chen investigating the occurrence of blizzard events across the U.S. contiguous states. A typical working day for me is observing data across the U.S. and using different methods to identify where blizzards are located. For this project, I've been analyzing historical data through three databases – storm events database, ERA5 re-analysis, and CMIP6, and estimating future changes in blizzards using climate projections to determine if climate change influences blizzard occurrences.
What are you learning during the internship? Has anything surprised you or shifted your thinking?
I have learned new skills such as managing databases and using GIS and coding programs. What surprised me is the number of blizzards that occur over the years in the Midwest and regions near this area.
What sparked your interest in climate and atmospheric science?
Even being from a small country in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda, slight atmospheric and climate changes could have big impacts on islands like the one I am from. This piqued my interest in environmental sciences such as climate and atmospheric sciences as well as marine science and understanding the ways in which we could curb or slow down the negative impacts that could occur.
How do you think your internship might affect your studies or your career path?
Being a marine science major at Mitchell College, this internship has shown me how climate and atmospheric sciences could play a part in the effects of the marine environment. This has opened my eyes to pursuing research highlighting the possible effects of climate change on coastal environments.
What was the best part of your SROP internship experience?
The best part of my SROP internship was working one on one with an amazing mentor to produce results and draw conclusions.