The U.S. Department of Defense Army Research Laboratories has established a four-year, $7.5 million cooperative research agreement with Colorado State University to continue studies on how weather affects both the military and civilian communities.
The award was announced by the offices of Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. David E. Skaggs (2nd District), who have supported the ongoing work by Colorado State’s Department of Defense Center for Geosciences.
"I am pleased to announce that Colorado State University will receive a grant to continue its efforts in researching the effects of weather on both military and civilian communities," Allard said. "Colorado State has always been a leader in research, and I am glad to see this tradition continued."
Skaggs said, "It was a pleasure to be able to help the Center continue this innovative weather research for the Army, which is critical in this era of ‘smart’ weapons. The Center’s research should lead to significant advances in the understanding of weather, which is important for all of us."
Thomas H. Vonder Haar, director of the Center for Geosciences, said, "The award will allow faculty and graduate students to continue their research, which has dual use for both the military and civilian communities."
The Center for Geosciences seeks to improve the monitoring and understanding of hydrology and meteorology through the formation of strong interdisciplinary research groups. This team research addresses weather effects, especially on contemporary military operations.
Vonder Haar, University Distinguished Professor and professor of atmospheric sciences, said the Department of Defense experiences numerous weather-related problems not only during peace-keeping and wartime operations but during peacetime.
"Civilian and military groups share concerns about major floods, air quality, safety of aircraft operations and other areas," he said.
Judson Harper, Colorado State vice president for research and information technology, said, "Both military and civilian agencies have a need to improve weather predictions and the impact of rainfall on stream flows, flooding and field conditions. The non-classified nature of Center for Geosciences research makes this possible."
Colorado State’s work in this area has received broad bipartisan legislative support and executive branch backing.
Geosciences Center research has involved faculty, students and staff from Colorado State’s colleges of engineering, natural resources and natural sciences, Vonder Haar said, and has been recognized for both scientific quality and practical applications.
"I’m especially pleased that the research of 52 graduate students has received substantial support by Geosciences Center funding during the last 11 years," he said.
The Center for Geosciences, established in 1986 with an $11 million award following a nationwide competition, is part of the College of Engineering’s research structure. The center collaborates with internationally recognized academic and research programs in atmospheric science, hydrology and electrical engineering. Recent projects have included:
- A new method to detect the amount of liquid water in clouds over land areas using data from weather satellites. The results will be used to better forecast aircraft icing so that both military and civilian pilots can avoid dangerous areas.
- A new computer model to study and forecast runoff within small watersheds. Federal scientists and other researchers have applied this runoff model to study and forecast possible flooding situations in various parts of the world.
- A collaborative effort between researchers at the Geosciences Center, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to predict the formation and lifetime of layers of clouds in the middle portion of the atmosphere. These clouds, which are hard to forecast, cause difficulties in military situations.
The aim of these and other Geosciences Center studies, Vonder Haar said, is better understanding of weather factors that can save lives and allow U.S. military objectives to be fully met.
The matter has become more important, he said, because of growing concerns about the use of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons by smaller countries that are often located in relatively unknown weather environments.