Perspectives Spring/Summer 2015

Page 38

Class act


polar PUZZLE


Meteorology students move from forecasting to studying Antarctic climate change

ike many of the students he now teaches, Ryan Fogt entered meteorology expecting a career in forecasting. “But I was the worst in my class!” Fogt says. “My professor said he couldn’t write me a good letter of recommendation if I wanted to be a forecaster.”

Instead, Fogt turned to research. As director of the Scalia Laboratory for Atmospheric Analysis at Ohio University, he’s now helping more undergraduates do the same. In May 2014, backed with a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Fogt recruited three undergraduates and a graduate student to help him undertake an ambitious threeyear project. The team will look at how atmospheric pressure over Antarctica has changed over the last century (especially in the last 30 years), what causes those changes, and how those changes have affected other areas of the globe. First, the research team had to reconstruct historic pressure records between 1905—when such records begin for most other locations in the Southern Hemisphere—and 1957, when recordkeeping began for Antarctica. To do that, undergraduates Megan Jones, Chad Goergens, and Grant Witte

(Above) Glaciated mountains and ice cliffs surround Paradise Bay in Antarctica. (Left) Undergraduate meteorology students Chad Goergens, Grant Witte, and Megan Jones (back row, left to right) work with faculty member Ryan Fogt (center) on a National Science Foundationfunded project that seeks to recreate historic weather records for Antarctica. PHOTOS: TOP, DREAMSTIME.COM; ABOVE, BEN SIEGEL