Contact: Sarah Nicholas
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State University professor and State of Mississippi climatologist Michael Brown launched a weather balloon with fifth grade students at Starkville Academy this week, demonstrating how weather scientists collect data and learn about the formation of storms.
Associated with a program called VORTEX SOUTHEAST, Brown’s balloon launch project is a collaboration of researchers from schools around the Southeast working together to collect weather data to learn more about the formation of storms and help improve predictions and warnings.
In partnership with the National Weather Service, Brown has launched 26 balloons to date.
Brown spent time with the schoolchildren Thursday [Feb. 7] describing the process before the launch. With the balloon in the atmosphere, Brown’s team will be able to track it electronically to collect data.
“The balloon will go eight miles high before it pops,” Brown said. “We expect the balloon to travel all the way to Birmingham before it comes down.”
Brown has served as Mississippi’s state climatologist for six years, and is tasked with various assignments such as helping farmers make decisions based upon rainfall or drought trends and providing climate impact studies for cities and counties. The state climatologist also participates in research to enhance the safety of Mississippians. Brown is currently studying characteristics unique to tornado environments in the southeast U.S., as well as human-related heat stress.
A professor in the Department of Geosciences, Brown has been an MSU faculty member for 20 years. He leads a field methods/storm chasing course each summer across the Great Plains region of the U.S.
The geosciences department provides distinctive contributions in the areas of weather, environment, natural resources and distance learning and accounts for more than one third of all distance learning credit-hour production for the university. MSU’s Department of Geosciences is the only educational entity in the state where climatologists, geographers, geologists, geospatial experts and meteorologists are combined in one area – not only in name, but in actual academic execution. For more information, visit www.geosciences.msstate.edu.
MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences may be found at www.cas.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.