Dr. Andrew Detwiler (Head)
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Mineral Industries 205
Professor Detwiler; Emeritus Professors Helsdon, Hjelmfelt and Smith; Associate Professors Capehart, Kliche, Sundareshwar and French; Instructors Clabo and Farley; Adjunct Professors Stamm and Bothwell; Adjunct Research Scientist Bunkers.
The Department of Atmospheric Sciences offers advanced undergraduate and graduate courses leading to the master of science degree in atmospheric sciences with specializations in meteorology or earth systems science, and the doctor of philosophy degree in atmospheric and environmental sciences (AES). For more information on the AES program, see here . Faculty in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences are members of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences (IAS), an active research group that conducts research with sponsorship from the State of South Dakota and various federal agencies.
The primary objective of the atmospheric sciences graduate program is to give students a basic understanding of the factors influencing atmospheric phenomena, including solar and terrestrial radiation, the laws of fluid motion and thermodynamics, microphysical and electrical processes in clouds, ecology, atmospheric chemistry, and biogeochemistry. Instruction is offered in the interpretation of conventional weather, satellite and radar data; observations collected by specially instrumented aircraft; and output from numerical models of atmospheric processes. The graduate student is expected to carry out original research in the atmospheric sciences using some of these tools and resources. In addition, the student must successfully complete the coursework and program requirements enumerated below.
A student applying for admission to the master‘s degree program in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences should have a baccalaureate degree in meteorology or atmospheric sciences, one of the biological or physical sciences, earth system sciences, mathematics, or engineering. It is desirable for applicants to have received undergraduate credit for mathematics through Calculus 2 (for the earth systems science specialization — see below) or ordinary differential equations (for the meteorology specialization). For the meteorology specialization, undergraduate physics is required, and for the earth systems specialization, undergraduate physics and chemistry are desirable. Experience with computer programming is recommended. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the General Test are required for all students except School of Mines graduates. TOEFL scores are required of all applicants from colleges outside the U.S.
Facilities and Resources
Students typically work directly with faculty on externally-funded research projects. Graduate research assistantships associated with these projects are available that provide part-time employment for students during the academic months and possible full-time employment during the summer. Facilities and resources of the IAS are utilized in these research efforts. These facilities comprise various meteorological instrument platforms and packages including several automated surface weather stations and a laser optical distrometer. Sophisticated computer facilities are available on campus, including a state-of-the-art 3-D computer visualization facility and a high-performance multiple-node computer cluster, with additional access to the larger computer complexes elsewhere.
Current research projects include field investigations of thunderstorms; applications of weather radar data to rainfall measurements and remote inference of cloud microphysical characteristics; numerical modeling of clouds ranging in size from small cumulus to severe storms including storm electrification, lightning, and lightning-influenced atmospheric chemistry; analysis of field observations and numerical simulations of complex surface ecosystems; land-surface hydrology; satellite remote sensing; land-surface/atmosphere exchange processes; fire weather prediction and modeling; biogeochemical cycling; and carbon sequestration and ecological modeling. In addition, IAS scientists are currently involved in activities to disseminate scientific knowledge to wider audiences and improve and enhance scientific literacy and educational opportunities for the people of South Dakota.