Lyndon State Students Prepare for the People’s Climate March in DC

Students and professors at Lyndon State College are about to take a trip of a lifetime: attending the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC.

Local 22 My Champlain Valley meteorologist Torrance Gaucher ’14 reports:

The journey is more than walking and chanting through the streets of Washington.

“Climate scientist and scientist as a whole kind of just been fed up, and had decided that we need to be as loud as we possibly can. Really what is the point of doing the science if nobody is paying attention,” said Janel Hanrahan a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Lyndon State College.

Jake Fortin (L) and Francis Tarasiewicz (R) talk to students at Danville School
Jake Fortin (L) and Francis Tarasiewicz (R) talk to students at Danville School

Improving Public Communication About Climate Change

One of the biggest hurdles for Dr. Hanrahan and her students is communicating the science to the general public. “Our goal is to communicate the science with the general public to inform them about facts, about climate change,” said Atmospheric Science student Celia Fisher. The Climate Consensus group did just that Monday speaking to a full room of students in Danville. They engaged the audience with analogies they could comprehend.

“In terms of our climate,” says Atmospheric Science student Francis Tarasiewicz, “we have a lot of CO2 in the air, but the temperature is not going to immediately respond. It takes a little while. So we relate that to an oven, where you preheat it to 400 degrees. It doesn’t immediately warm to 400 degrees.”

Moving Forward Following the Science

The group leaves this Friday and will attend the People’s Climate March this Saturday, the 29th.

“If we want to keep moving forward we want to make sure we are leaders in the world. We need to make sure we are following the science and right now we are just not,” said Hanrahan.

Fore more information on how to better understand climate change, please visit

ATM Seminar: Mike Westendorf presents Forecasting vs. Risk Assessment & the Impacts of Relational Information

Mike WestendorfThe second ATM department seminar of the semester will be held on Thursday, March 16, in ASAC 319 from 12:30-1:20PM. Mike Westendorf, Director of Operations for Innovative Weather, will be our remote guest speaker to talk about his work and experience in the private sector at Innovative Weather. Fluency in communication and knowing how to work with different users of weather information in addition to core fundamental forecasting knowledge is becoming an employer expectation.

Seminar Description

As atmospheric science students, we study to understand the basics of the atmosphere and why weather happens. These dynamics, forces and influences create more than just rising and sinking motions. They directly influence billions of dollars worth of decisions that are made every day in the U.S. and across the world. Whether you’re a student going into research or are hoping to work in operational forecasting, it’s not enough to just know the data. Adding value to the lives of people and partners requires us to have some level of relationship with that audience, so that they can make the decisions that best impact those businesses and the communities they serve. This seminar explains the differences between a forecast and a risk assessment, and the skill sets that are required to be excellent at both.

Mike Westendorf Bio

Mike Westendorf is the Director of Operations for Innovative Weather, a 24/7 forecast operation at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. This paid internship program equips Graduate and Undergraduate students with the personal and professional skill sets needed to be successful in the field of operational meteorology. It also expands the skills of those going into the research community or other disciplines.

Climate Change Science Degree Coming to Lyndon this Fall

Local 22 / Local 44 News My Champlain Valley recently highlighted the new Climate Change Science degree coming to Lyndon this fall.

“If you want to learn about Climate Change Science, this is one of the best places to do it,” said Dr. Janel Hanrahan, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Lyndon.

The Atmospheric Science department will house the Climate Change Science B.S. degree. “We are a nationally recognized department, and have been around for 43 years. What we do, we do very well,” said Hanrahan.

Most of all, the Climate Change Science degree is designed for students who want to get out and apply the science. For example, a few career paths include: policy, renewable energy, urban planning, or natural resources planning, to name a few career paths.

Learn More

ATM students and alumni gather at AMS Annual Meeting

Current ATM students and faculty networked with alumni at the AMS Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA, which took place at the end of January. 35 current students and graduates from the ATM department attended the alumni event this year. In addition, the LSC Women and Sciences group had their second annual gathering. They joined up with the national group, Earth Sciences Women’s Network (ESWN). At both of these gatherings, alumni learned about current department activities, while students learned about many internship and job opportunities.

Students and Faculty Present at National AMS Annual Meeting

Several Lyndon Atmospheric Sciences students and faculty recently attended the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington.  Some of them presented on research conducted at Lyndon and through external internships.  In addition, faculty discussed the integration of informal climate change communication into the ATM curriculum and convened a Town Hall Meeting to encourage widespread communication of the science.

Research included:

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Unification provides new opportunities for ATM department

Starting in fall 2018, Lyndon State College and Johnson State College will unify under the name Northern Vermont University. While the name of the college will change, our nationally recognized Department of Atmospheric Sciences will remain strong. We will continue to offer a diverse, rigorous, and modern curriculum in a personalized setting. This will provide new exciting opportunities for research collaboration as well as expanded course offerings.

The Unique & Powerful Role of Meteorologists as Climate Change Communicators


Bernadette Woods Placky

Bernadette Woods Placky is an Emmy Award winning meteorologist and director of Climate Central’s Climate Matters program. In her role, Bernadette works with fellow meteorologists from across the country, providing resources and data on the connection between climate change and weather. Bernadette is often called upon to discuss and explain extreme weather events and has appeared on a number of national and local television broadcasts.

Bernadette has a B.S. in Meteorology and a minor in French from Penn State University, where she is a steering committee member for MAPS (Meteorology Alumni of Penn State). She also carries both American Meteorological Society certifications — Television Seal of Approval and Certified Broadcast Meteorologist. She is currently a member of the AMS Committee on Applied Climatology and a board member of Penn State’s GEMS (Graduates of Earth and Mineral Science).

Responding to Climate Change: Is Climate Engineering an Option?

Dr. Thomas AckermanThe Climate Change Communication group presents:

Dr. Thomas Ackerman, Director, Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
4:15 – 5:00 p.m.
ASAC 319

The Paris accord (December 2015) signals an international effort to hold global temperature change below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Since it is unlikely that we can achieve this goal by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, we are led to ask what role solar climate engineering (SCE) might play in reducing global warming. This presentation briefly reviews the science and available options for reducing absorbed solar radiation in the Earth climate system. It then provides additional detail on marine cloud brightening (MCB) which seeks to reduce absorption by enhancing the reflectivity of low clouds over the ocean. The presentation concludes with an overview of some of the ethical and policy questions associated with climate engineering.

About Dr. Thomas Ackerman

Dr. Thomas Ackerman is Director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. From 1999 through 2005, he served as the Chief Scientist of DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program and was a Battelle Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA. He was Professor of Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University from 1988 to 1999, as well as Associate Director of the Earth System Science Center. Earlier, he was a staff research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA.

Dr. Ackerman is the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Leo Szilard Award for Science in the Public Interest, awarded by the American Physical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. In addition, he has received several awards for his research papers, including one from the World Meteorological Org. Dr. Ackerman has authored or co-authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed journal articles on a wide range of topics.

ATM Students and Faculty Attend Youth Environmental Summit

Two exhibits were recently presented by ATM students and faculty at the Youth Environmental Summit in Barre, VT. The Summit is an annual conference for middle and high school students who are interested in learning about environmental issues and local involvement. Over 150 students attended this year! Dr. Jay talked to participants about citizen science and the Cocorahs program. In addition, three members of the Climate Change Communication group, Jake Fortin, Allison Fitzpatrick, and Francis Tarasiewicz, joined Dr. Hanrahan to educate students about carbon emissions.

ATM students at the Youth Environmental Summit

ATM Seminar: A Surface Dynamic and Thermodynamic Analysis of Long-Duration Freezing Rain Events

ASAC 319, 12:30-1:20 p.m.

Chris McCray ’15 will be here in person to speak about some of his graduate research related to freezing rain he’s working on at McGill University.


While even short periods of freezing rain can be hazardous, the most severe impacts tend to occur when it persists for many hours. Because of the latent heat released as rain freezes at the surface, freezing rain has been described as self-limiting, with air temperatures often rising above 0°C shortly after precipitation onset. Previous studies have primarily focused on developing climatologies of freezing rain observations and the conditions concurrent with them. Here, we specifically concentrate on surface observations of long-duration (six or more hours) freezing rain events over North America.

As with freezing rain in general, long-duration events occur most frequently from southeastern Canada into the northeastern United States. An analysis of the longest-duration events shows a broader geographic distribution, with local maxima in the number of 18+ h events over Oklahoma and surrounding states – a region with relatively low annual freezing rain frequencies. Conditions during long-duration events vary greatly between regions of the continent. In northeastern North America, temperatures tend to increase on average 2-5°C from event start to end, while in the Great Plains temperatures actually decrease on the order of 1°C under strong cold-air advection. These changes are associated with very different phase changes, with events in Oklahoma often beginning as rain and transitioning to freezing rain. The reverse pattern occurs in the Northeast. We also explore the differences in conditions between long- and short-duration freezing rain events. This analysis may be useful to forecasters in discriminating between environments favorable for only one or two hours of freezing rain and those which support sustained and potentially damaging icing events.