The 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) took place February 2-6 in Atlanta, Georgia, a city that has experienced – within the last five years – devastating drought, a tornado in the central business district, and a 200- to-500 year flood event. The meeting theme, “Extreme Weather—Climate and the Built Environment: New Perspectives Opportunities, and Tools”, was set almost a year before the infamous late-January snowstorm the week prior to the meeting that brought the entire city to a standstill. Oh the irony…
The AMS Annual Meeting offers something for everyone in attendance, whether you are a distinguished research scientist, undergraduate/graduate student, young professional, broadcast meteorologist or someone who is generally interested in all things weather!
The Main Attraction
Talks, talks and more talks, including both oral presentations and poster sessions. Topics are diverse spanning the range from hardcore dynamic meteorology to new tools and applications for receiving weather data and warnings, so there is something for everybody. Many of the sessions this year were focused on how the weather community as a whole can better disseminate complex information about weather preparedness, forecasts and warnings to the public.
Sessions were part of themed programs, symposia and “sub-conferences” including:
Two special events take place at Annual Meetings, one for K-12 and another for professionals.
WeatherFest is an interactive four-hour science and weather fair designed to instill a love for math and science in children of all ages and to spark a young person’s interest in this area so they may consider a career in these and other science and engineering fields. The event is open to everyone, free to exhibit and free to attend! This year, there were over 70 engaging and interactive science exhibits including hands-on experiments, educational information, career guides, local emergency management and first responders, and much more.
The Career Fair is a unique and free opportunity that connects conference attendees with organizations looking to recruit highly talented individuals for full-time and part-time job opportunities. Under one roof, students, young professionals and seasoned professionals alike can network with government agency and private industry representatives, and meet recruiters from some of the country’s premiere graduate school programs.
Notable Sessions (Emphasis on Severe Weather)
*May 20 Newcastle/Oklahoma City/Moore Tornado: Post-Disaster Assessment of
Preparedness, Planning and Recovery*
*Sheltering Behavior during 2 Major Tornadoes in 2013: Is More “Lead Time” Better?*
*General Public's Weather Information Seeking and Decision Making behavior
during Tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma City Metroplex in May 2013*
*mPING: Crowd-Sourcing Weather Reports for Research*
*Weather Ready Schools: Should School Hallways As Storm Shelters Be the
Next Weather Safety Recommendation to be Retired?*
*Social and Behavioral Influences on Weather-Driven Decisions: Prototypes
for Severe Weather*
*Advancements in Radar Technology to Detect Severe Local Storms*
*Social Media in the National Weather Service – Past, Present and Future*
Of course, a conference wouldn’t be complete without a great host city. The city of Atlanta offered many opportunities to indulge oneself outside of the conference. Such attractions included Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, Coca-Cola World, studio tours at the CNN Center and of course endless offerings of jazz and soul music. Exquisite dining selections (from street-level to 73 stories up) and local brews provided excellent options to reconnect with colleagues or make a great first impression on a potential client or future boss.
Final Thoughts and Meeting Summary
The big takeaway for myself and several of my colleagues in attendance was that we meteorologists are notorious for being great communicators amongst ourselves but often struggle when trying to communicate the science of meteorology to the general public. In the end, (most) people really don’t care about upper-level divergence, frontogenesis, vorticity maxima or the TROWAL. They just want to know how much it will precipitate at their house and when. Or if the weather outside is currently 40F and sunny with light west winds.
Andrew Murray, Co-Founder, CTO and Meteorologist for OpenSnow offered a thought-provoking summary of this year’s Annual Meeting in his blog, http://asketchyfish.com:
“… as we saw in Atlanta, some change needs to happen. As our country grows and cities sprawl, studying the effect climate and weather have on a population will become more and more important. As much as I went to school almost a decade ago to learn to calculate vorticity and derive maximum temperatures from a 850mb map, it’s becoming even more important to explain what the hell that means to an everyday non-weather geek.”
More information on the 2014 Annual meeting can be found at http://annual.ametsoc.org/2014/
Information on all sessions, including recorded presentations, can be found at https://ams.confex.com/ams/94Annual/webprogram/start.html
The next AMS Annual Meeting is in Phoenix, Arizona, January 4-8, 2015.
Photo 1 – Source: American Meteorological Society
Andrew Murray’s quote used with permission from: http://asketchyfish.com/2014/hotlanta-meet-the-weather-geeks/