Alex Gonzalez, assistant professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, is studying the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) with the help of a $316,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
A highly active weather region, the ITCZ appears as a narrow band of clouds encircling the equator. It extends for thousands of miles in continuous and broken-line segments. This billowy formation impacts tropical wet and dry seasons, which seed a good portion of the Earth’s rainfall and storms.
“My research is focused on the ITCZ over the east Pacific Ocean during February and April, and investigating why the ITCZ doesn’t follow the sun’s migration as it does over the land,” Gonzalez said. “Although the climate models show the ITCZ moving into the Southern Hemisphere during these months, our observations suggest that this isn’t always the case on a day-to-day basis.”
Accurate climate models are foundational to the study of weather and climate. They enable scientists to provide seasonal weather outlooks, predict the likelihood of extreme weather events and understand the progression of climate change.
“The observational research that we’re conducting over the Pacific could fill in the gaps and improve the models that we rely on to answer weather- and climate-related questions,” Gonzalez said. “People want to know if there is risk of a drought this summer or what next winter’s snowfall will be like, and they wonder about this spring’s El Niño. Additional data helps us to better answer these questions and many others,” Gonzalez said.
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