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NSF awards $400,000 to UND for blowing snow research

The National Science Foundation has awarded Aaron Kennedy, UND associate professor of atmospheric sciences, a $400,000 grant to further his research on the blowing snow that leads to ground blizzards, a common wintertime hazard in the Northern Great Plains.

As recent severe winter weather in the Red River Valley has demonstrated, the effects of blizzards and ground blizzards can have a profound effect on lives, safety, travel and the transportation system in general.

“What we’ve found over the years is that forecasting these events is very challenging and extremely variable,” said Kennedy, the project’s principal investigator. “Sometimes it’s the northern Red River Valley that gets the greatest impacts, sometimes it’s the southern valley and other times it’s even more localized.

“The weather modeling and observation effort that we’re conducting in this proposal will hopefully lead to better forecasts of these events,” he explained.

The project will investigate the structure of blowing snow layers and the roles that terrain, atmospheric state, and sublimation – the change from ice as a solid into gas – have on the evolution of these events. Observations will be made in and around eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

The full story is available at UND Today.