The Archives


Students attend AGU annual meeting

Alana Ballweber and Ryan Lueck, second-year atmospheric and environmental sciences master's degree students at SDSM&T, attended the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco in December. They had opportunities to network with others in their field and present on their current area of research.








Top left: Ryan and Alana had a chance to network with research scientists from the University of Mississippi (shown above) who are also studying lightning. Left to right: Ryan Lueck, Alana Ballweber, Sumedhe Karunarathne, Tom Marshall, and Maribeth Stolzenburg. Top right: Ryan and Alana in front of the poster Ryan presented on lightning research, which deals with upward-lightning-producing storms. Alana presented an oral talk, entitled "A Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Triggered Upward Lightning". They are conducting their research under the guidance of Dr. John Helsdon.

(Posted 1/2014)

A-10 Storm Penetrating Aircraft Update

A10 airplane

The development of an A-10 Warthog into an armored storm-penetrating research aircraft continues. The Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies at the U. S. Naval Postgraduate School is leading the $13M project funded by the National Science Foundation. SDSM&T atmospheric scientists Donna Kliche and Andy Detwiler, along with graduate students Aaron Carmichael, Aaron Ward, and Connor Nelson, are working out procedures for project development, mission planning, research flight operations, and post-flight data processing, quality control, and distribution. A specific aircraft with recently-overhauled engines has been selected from the U. S. Air Force inventory and transferred to Zivco Aeronautics in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where demilitarization has been completed. Zivco will engineer the aircraft into a research platform. Armoring and de-icing capability will be added, and wiring and interfaces will be added to facilitate mounting research instrumentation. The National Science Foundation is currently reviewing administrative details concerning how the aircraft will be operated as a national facility. It is hoped test flights will begin next spring.  Click link for more photos: More Photos

(Posted 11/22/13)


Halloween Fun at Atmospheric Sciences

Several members of the SDSM&T Weather Club participated in the annual Trick-or-Treat for Canned Food drive. The club collected 260.5 pounds of food in 2.5 hours. A total of 1200 pounds of food was collected for the Feeding South Dakota charity.

(Posted 11/5/2013)

The faculty, staff, and students decided to have a little fun, in the midst of all their hard work and studies, on Halloween. Several staff members tried to perplex the students with a "play on word" type of costume (can you find the 'malebox' or the obvious 'Boston Red Sox'?).
SDSM&T GoToMines Weekend

Several of the Atmospheric Sciences students volunteered at the GoToMines event, held on campus Saturday, October 19, 2013. Jorel Torres, Connor Nelson, Shelby Allen, and Brianne Gerber were available to talk with visitors at the booth. Also pictured is Kathy Haselhorst (ATM-MS 2012), who is now an Admissions Counselor at SDSM&T.


(Posted 10/23/2013)


Snow Contest ends early with epic blizzard of October 2013

Our annual snow contest usually extends beyond October, with "first snows" occurring most often in November. However, 2013 brought surprises to the area with an epic blizzard that started with heavy rain on Thursday, October 3rd, which changed to blowing snow and blizzard conditions by Friday afternoon. Cindy Davies (left) and Shon Anderson (center), shown below receiving their certificates and prize money from Dr. Detwiler, department head, both guessed that the first inch of snow would fall within hours of each other on Friday, October 4th. Desirae Hanson, from Rapid City, won in the "under 18" category with a guess of 12:01 am on October 5th. Desirae (right) received her certificate and prize money from Alana Ballweber, president of the SDSM&T Weather Club.







(Posted 10/24/2013)

SDSM&T campus after the storm...

(Photos courtesy Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences)

Thundersnow...what's that all about?

Friday's early winter storm brought with it rain, high wind, snow, and yes, thunder and lightning! The layman's term for this is "thundersnow"; meteorologically-speaking, it is a convective snowstorm. The cause: a mass of cold air on top of warm and moist air closer to the ground that come together during a snowstorm. It's a precise situation, as the air closer to the ground has to be warmer than that above it, but still cold enough to create snow. So if you heard the clap of thunder and saw flashes of lightning on Friday, you were experiencing thundersnow.

(Posted 10/8/2013)

Weather Club Float a "Humorous" Success!

The SDSM&T Weather Club participated in the fall M-Week activities with a float that garnered them the "Most Humorous" Award. For more information about the Club, you can follow the link at left or from their MinesLink page at Weather Club.


(Posted 9/27/2013)

Dr. Adam French Receives Three-Year Grant From NSF

Dr. Adam French, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for a study entitled “Interactions between squall lines and isolated supercell thunderstorms via storm-generated perturbations to the local environment.”  The project will fund two masters’ students over three years, the first of whom, Jacey Wipf, began work on the project this fall.

 Dr. French’s project will focus on improving our understanding of how nearby thunderstorms interact with each other by modifying their local environments. It is well known that thunderstorm organization and intensity are sensitive to environmental wind, temperature and moisture profiles. This new research will evaluate whether the subtle changes to these parameters that have been observed near on-going thunderstorms are sufficient to alter the organization and severe weather potential of other nearby thunderstorms. In particular, the study will be examining how a squall line may alter the storm-scale rotation in an isolated supercell located ahead of the line, and what role isolated supercells ahead of a squall line might play in producing bow echoes and mesovortices along the squall line. The project will use a combination of numerical modeling and observations-based techniques to address these goals.

Dr. French came to SDSM&T in 2011. He earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology at Valparaiso University, and his master’s and PhD degrees in Atmospheric Science from North Carolina State University. In addition to teaching, Dr. French serves as a co-coordinator of the undergraduate program in atmospheric sciences at SDSM&T.

(Posted 10/1/13)

Preparing for a New Storm Penetrating Aircraft
Several research scientists in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences were successful in receiving a grant to replace the retired T-28 airplane. On July 17 and 18, 2013, Dr. Andy Detwiler (principal investigator on the project) and graduate research assistants Aaron Ward and Aaron Carmichael, visited the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. The visit was an opportunity to discuss what would be needed to outfit the new A10 plane and see firsthand what is used on other research aircraft. The SDSM&T crew are assigned to the project to oversee the preparation of the scientific equipment in the new plane. In the photos, Aaron Ward (in blue) and Aaron Carmichael (in green) are working in a lab on software for tracking a research aircraft in flight. The grad students also received a demonstration of some of the instrumentation being used in an airborne study of new particle formation in air near the surface in California's Central Valley. The plane is CIRPAS' Twin Otter research aircraft.
(Posted 8/29/2013)

Up on the Roof!

That may remind us of an oldies tune, but in reality the Department of Atmospheric Sciences actually spends time up on the roof of the Mineral Industries building on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology - conducting research. Various instruments provide data for research projects, as well as provide real-time data for weather forecasting.

In this photo, Dr. Donna Kliche and ATM graduate research assistants, Aaron Ward and Aaron Carmichael, prepare a mount for the HOBO weather station affectionately named “Memphis”. This instrument is used to collect weather data such as air temperature, dew point temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind direction and speed. The data logger associated with the instrument can store the data for long periods of time. Such data are then used in the research projects involving the Parsivel instruments shown below.

The OTT Parsivel laser-optic disdrometer measures precipitation particles using the shadowing effects they cause when they pass through a laser band. Solar panels connected to the instrument provide power to the disdrometers. Parsivel provides information about the size and fall velocities for the individual hydrometeors. In addition to studying the microphysics of clouds through the study of the variability of raindrop size distributions, this data is also used to estimate rain induced soil erosion. 

The instrument shown here is a radiometer, which will retrieve the water vapor profile and integrated liquid water path from the surface through 10km up.

The Davis instrument shown here provides readings for the outside temperature, humidity, dew point, wind speed and direction, rain rate, wind chill, solar radiation, heat and UV index…all of which are transmitted to a computer in the MI building which provides the information to a display panel. This information can also be found on our website, by clicking on the “Current Weather at SDSMT” link given above.

(Posted 8/14/2013)

Research Professor Receives Funding

Dr. Adam French, Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, has been awarded a second year of funding from the State Board of Regents to continue his research investigating squall lines evolving into isolated supercells.

The majority of the award is going to fund the work of a graduate research assistant, Kenny Miller. Thus far this work (which has been completed by Kenny, with Dr. French's guidance) has focused on analyzing radar and environmental observations from cases where thunderstorms that are initially organized as squall lines “break up” into one or more isolated supercell storms.  Kenny gave a talk on his work to date at the Northern Plains Convective Storms Symposium in Grand Forks, ND this past spring.  The new funding will allow Kenny and Dr. French to expand upon this work by running numerical simulations of these cases using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model.  The model simulations will be used to examine how the squall line’s cold pool evolves during these cases, giving better insight into the processes responsible for this non-traditional storm evolution.

For more information about Dr. French and his research, please check out his webpage: Dr. Adam French.

(Posted 6/14/2013)



Chip Redmond captures amazing phenomena on video

Chip Redmond (MS ATM 2013) captured some amazing auroras in early June. Check out his newly-posted video at Auroras.

He and John Hamilton (M.S. student 2012-13) went storm-chasing in the Oklahoma area during the Oklahoma City outbreak of violent weather. Check out Chip’s YouTube video of tornadoes near the El Reno, Oklahoma area at Tornado Video.

 (Posted 6/10/2013) 

Kathy Haselhorst, MS Candidate in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, presented her thesis defense entitled "Remembering Weather Events: What Makes Them Memorable?," on Monday, April 15, 2013. Kathy’s research was conducted under the direction of major professor Dr. Andy Detwiler.

(Posted 4/15/2013)

Kurt Chowanski, MS Candidate in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, presented his thesis defense entitled “Assessing Wetland Restoration with Phosphorous Forms: A P-NMR Study Linking Biogeochemical Function, Plant Community Structure, and Hydrologic Function”, on Friday, April 5, 2013. Kurt’s research was conducted under the direction of major professor Dr. P.V. Sundareshwar.

(Posted 4/8/2013)

Congratulations, Graduates!

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences at SDSM&T awarded four master of science degrees and three undergraduate degrees on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Pictured, left to right, are Kathy Haselhorst, Chip Redmond, Christine Sandvik, and Kurt Chowanski (MS-2013) and Cody Moldan (BSIS-ATM-2013). Also receiving their undergraduate degrees in Atmospheric and Environmental Science, but not pictured, were Jacey Wipf and Jed Lemaster. Graduates and their families, as well as faculty, staff, and current M.S. students gathered for a picnic lunch after commencement.

(Posted 5/6/2013)

Picture of awardees and advisors





Atmospheric Sciences Students Receive Awards

Since its inception in 1952, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Honors Convocation has formally honored students for departmental and academic achievement, and recognized scholarship recipients and donors. At the 2013 convocation, held Friday, April 12, three Atmospheric Sciences students were given recognition. Alana Ballweber, second from left, received the Harold and Laura Orville Fellowship award for the spring semester 2013; Chip Redmond, center, received an Outstanding Graduate Student-2nd place award, and Jaycee Wipf, second from right, was honored for a consistent 4.0 GPA. Shown with the students are Darren Clabo (Chip’s advisor) far left, and Dr. Andy Detwiler, department head, far right.

(Posted 4/15/2013)

Weather Club holds workshop at Central High School

Several members of the SDSMT Weather Association spent Friday, April 5th teaching Central High School freshmen about weather phenomena. Among the topics taught were: lightning, hail, and applications of physics, chemistry, and mathematics in atmospheric sciences.

Photo above left: Students learned about the atmospheric processes that form hailstones of different sizes. Photo right: Students learn about electrostatic discharges through the use of a Van de Graaff generator.

(Posted 4/8/2013)





(Weather Association members with Mr. Tim Samaras)

Storm Chaser Tim Samaras at SDSM&T

The SDSM&T Weather Association hosted a special presentation by Mr. Tim Samaras, a well-known storm chaser who pursues tornadoes and studies lightning with a passion. He has been featured in National Geographic Magazine and the Discovery Channel's show "Storm Chasers". His talk centered on his research work studying the dynamics of tornadoes and his experiments using high-speed cameras to photograph lightning strikes to better understand what triggers a lightning strike and to see what we normally do not see with the naked eye. His talks ended with a slide show of his most dramatic tornado chases, including those in Bowdle, SD in 2014 and the tornado that destroyed Manchester, SD.

Other sponsors of the event were Modrick Bursch Travel, Malone Engineering, Black Hills Federal Credit Union, Black Hills Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, Simpson's Printing, Chamberline Architects, and Aramark.

(Posted 3/15/2013).

SDSM&T Weather Club participates in Adopt A Highway Program

The Weather Club, as part of their community service plan, is participating in the Adopt-a-Highway program by adopting a portion of highway on Nemo Road.

(Posted 5/10/2013)


2013 Health and Wellness Expo at SDSM&T

The Weather Club at SDSM&T sponsored a booth at this year's Health and Wellness Expo. The topic of their display was "Are You Weather Ready?" and contained information about tornado and severe weather safety, handouts, and a chance to win a weather alert radio.

The Weather Club has booked a special speaker for a presentation coming up in March, so check back for more information. The seminar will be open to the public.

(Posted 2/14/2013)

Students serve as ambassadors

Alana Ballweber and Erin Walter, atmospheric science masters’ degree students at SDSM&T, attended the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, held in Austin, Texas, the first week in January, 2013. A student conference is held just prior to the regular annual meeting activities, which is a time for students to network with others. Our department usually hosts a table and this year, Alana and Erin volunteered to be our ambassadors. They answered questions and took names of prospective students. Chip Redmond, another MS student, and faculty members  Bill Capehart, also attended the meeting and gave presentations. Darren Clabo, faculty and state wildfire meteorologist, served on the Public Sector panel.

(Posted 1/24/2013)


Rick MacDonald with calendar








MacDonald Wins Photo Contest

In preparation for their calendar fundraiser, the School of Mines Weather Club sponsored a photo contest. Winners would have their photos appear in the 2013 calendar they are selling.

Rick McDonald, Rapid City, won the honor of having one of his entries appear on the calendar's cover. Rick is a Computer Support Analyst in the Information Technology Services Department at SDSM&T, but he is also an avid weather-watcher and has captured many great shots of storms as they pass through the area.

(Posted 1/2/2013)


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New Students Join Atmospheric Sciences

Seven new students began the MS program in Atmospheric Sciences this fall semester. We wish to welcome Alana Ballweber, Aaron Carmichael, Rebecka Hastings, Ryan Lueck, Kenny Miller, Erin Walter, and Aaron Ward to campus! They will be joining returning students Kurt Chowanski, Chris Hammrich, Kathy Haselhorst, John Hamilton, Chip Redmond, and Christine Sandvik.

As of registration, we have 20 students in the BSIS-ATM track, and 5 in the AES PhD program.

(Posted Sept. 2012)

Dan D'Amico
SDSM&T Weather Association

Dan D'Amico (Atmospheric Sciences MS graduate in 2012) greets the crowd during the SDSM&T campus organization sign-up day on August 30, 2012. A host of campus organizations set up tables to recruit new members. The weather club, newly-formed in 2011, hopes to enlarges its membership in the coming semesters.

The purpose of the club is to encourage increased knowledge of and interest in atmospheric science and meteorological phenomenon among its members. The organization is committed to community involvement through outreach and educational programs aimed at individuals of all ages. Further, the organization is aimed at unifying students with interests in the atmospheric and earth sciences through group activities.

One of the first activities of the newly-formed group was to coordinate with the National Weather Service to present a Skywarn Storm Spotter Training event, held in the spring of 2011. Attendance was mixed between students with an atmospheric science background and those from outside the program as well as many community members. They were also successful in raising $550 in the Relay for Life cancer benefit held in the fall.

The group will be planning more activities, and you may visit their website by using the following link: Weather Association.htm or you can find them on Facebook.

(Posted 9/4/2012)

Wild Weather

Dr. Adam French, assistant professor in the Atmospheric Sciences Department, and Chip Redmond, second-year masters degree student, went storm chasing June 22nd. Both captured some excellent shots of the storm that spawned a tornado in the Edgemont/Ardmore are in southwest South Dakota. Be sure to check out Chip's blog at for more awesome storm photos of the progression of this storm and the tornadoes that formed.

(Posted 6/29/2012)

Happy Halloween from the Atmospheric Sciences Department!

Posted 10/31/12

Photo of our graduates


RAWS station
Congratulations to our 2012 Graduates!

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology held its 165th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. The Department of Atmospheric Sciences had eight students receive their Master's Degrees. Those graduating were, pictured below from left to right, Joshua Brewer (Stanwood, Washington), Emily French (Torrington, CT), Gretchen Berg (Mitchell, SD), Dan McKemy (Hickory, NC), Theresa Aguilar (Anton, Texas), Heather Caye (Allen Park, MI), Dan D'Amico (Twinsburg, OH), and Frances Sewell (Monticello, ME).

We wish these students the best of luck as they continue in the pursuit of their career goals!

(Posted 5/31/2012)

What is a RAWS station?

A Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) provides the necessary weather information for fire management decisions. Measurements taken at a RAWS site include temperature, relative humidity,  20 ft wind speed/direction, precipitation, solar radiation, and 10 hr fuel moisture. These measurements are taken as hourly observations and are transmitted via satellite to the National Interagency Fire Center to be disseminated worldwide. In addition, RAWS sites provide a consistent location for field technicians to take measurements of live foliar and duff fuel moisture.

 For more photos, follow this link: MORE

(Posted 3/20/2012)

Students at booth at AMS Career Fair Photo of winners
Atmospheric Sciences Students Attend American Meteorological Society Career Fair in New Orleans

Several students attended the AMS Annual Meeting and Career Fair held in New Orleans January 22-27, 2012. This event is a great networking time for the students, as they will soon receive their M.S. degrees and be ready to join the workforce. In addition to attending different sessions during the week-long fair, our students also take the opportunity to visit with perspective new students during the Career Fair. Shown are Emily French, Dan D'Amico, and Gretchen Berg at our recruiting table at the Career Fair. The students also presented posters on the research projects that they are associated with.  Also attending this conference were Theresa Aguilar, M.S. student and Eric Hout, BSIS-ATM undergrad, and Professor Bill Capehart.

(Posted 1/25/2012)

First Snow of the Season Contest Winners announced

Dr. Andrew Detwiler, Atmospheric Sciences Department Chair, presented checks for $25 and certificates to the winners of this year's First Snow of the Season Contest. Mr. Todd Menkhaus, associate professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Dept., won in the adult division with a guess of 5:45 a.m. on Friday, November 18. He is holding the winner of the "under-18" category, Hayden Zuhlsdorf, of Box Elder, with a guess of 9:55 p.m. on November 13.

The first official inch of snow fell on Friday evening, November 18 at 5:30 p.m. We had 112 adult entries and 15 in the under-18 category.

The Department wishes to thank everyone who participated in this year's contest.


Students dressed like Waldo


Fire and smoke from Custer Park prescribed burn
Where's Waldo?

Even scientist-types enjoy some good Halloween fun, and the atmospheric science students (and a staff member, too) proved it to be so as they dressed up in typical Waldo fashion for Halloween 2011. The students are a close-knit group who enjoy participating in many activities, and Halloween was no exception.

(Posted 11/14/2011)

Smoke and fire

Prescribed burns have been in the news recently. Just what is a prescribed (or controlled) burn?

A prescribed burn uses controlled conditions to accomplish several things in a heavily-forested area, or even in an area such as the Badlands, where ample moisture has created heavy grass growth. Deliberate burning of certain areas will help to remove accumulated fuels that can cause intense fires that start by human error or natural causes such as lightning. The habitat for wildlife is also improved with the new growth of tender plants. It is also a means of controlling pest problems and cleaning up debris from fallen dead trees, allowing for new growth and natural regeneration.

See the following link for more photos of the prescribed burn process.

Prescribed burns

(Posted 10/5/2011)

Smoke Plume from Coal Canyon Fire
Homecoming 2011

The graduate and undergraduate students in the Atmospheric Sciences Department participated in the M-Day parade, September 24, 2011. Dan McKemy portrayed Dan Dan the Weatherman, as several students marched alongside the pickup all decked out in weather forecasting equipment.

(Posted 9/30/2011)

Coal Canyon Fire

Darren Clabo, state wildfire meteorologist, was on duty in mid-August at the Coal Canyon Fire. The fire resulted in the loss of one firefighter and injuries to four others. It consumed over 5000 acres of forest and grassland before being fully contained on August 17.

More photos

(Posted 8/23/2011)

Burned area in Custer State ParkBison in Custer State Park

Fran Sewell takes measurements in Custer ParkFran Sewell taking measurements from burn area

Slurry plane dropping fire retardant Darren Clabo using handheld Kestrel instrument

Slurry plane dropping fire retardant

Darren Clabo uses a handheld Kestrel, an instrument that measures wind speed, temperature, and relative humidity.

Helicopter used to drop water Tent camp
Helicopter used to drop thousands of gallons of water on the fire.

Firefighter tent city


Pleasurable work

On a recent July afternoon, Darren Clabo, state fire meteorologist, and Fran Sewell, M.S. student in Atmospheric Sciences, drove through Custer State Park to identify areas for Fran’s research on the effects of fire on soil greenhouse gas flux. They flagged areas along a fireline where carbon dioxide and methane measurements will be taken. The brown areas are not caused by insect damage, but by surface fire that scorched the trees. And, while in the park, they just happened to catch site of a buffalo or two grazing in the grass.

Students who are enrolled in the Atmospheric Sciences program have opportunities to conduct research in various areas of atmospheric and earth systems studies, under the guidance of the expert faculty of the department. For more information on our department, please visit the website at: (All photos © Darren Clabo)

(Posted 7/13/2011)

WhoopUp Fire Photos

Darren Clabo, state fire meteorologist for South Dakota, was on-scene last week at the WhoopUp (named for a nearby creek) and Barrel fires and took several photos of the fires and their aftermath. The conflagrations started from lightning strikes on July 17 and were fully contained by July 23, burning approximately 10,000 acres of forest and grass. For more photos, follow this link: More-WhoopUp photos ( Fire/More_whoopup_fire_photos.htm).

(Posted 7/26/2011)


Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud over campus photo showing joined areasphoto of a gustnado
What Are Those Strange Looking Clouds?

Darren Clabo, state wildfire meteorologist, recently snapped this shot of a Kelvin-Helmholtz Cloud. Sometimes called shear-gravity clouds, or Kelvin-Helmholtz billows, they can be indicators of atmospheric instability. An upper layer of air moving at higher speed will pick up the top of the cloud layer and form the wave-like rolling peaks you see. The formation is named after Lord Kelvin, a British physicist, and Hermann von Helmholtz, a German physicist.

(Posted 8/6/2011)

From gustnado to tornado...

Shawn Honomichl, MS-ATM 2011 graduate, went storm chasing near O'Neill, Nebraska on Memorial Day. He snapped the following photos, which show how a "gustnado" can turn into a "tornado". There is a distinct division between the wall cloud and the turbulence on the ground in the photo at left. On the right we see the two areas joining to form a funnel.

All photos © Shawn Honomichl.

(Posted 6/3/2011)

Two colors of smoke plumes photo of a sundog

Lisa Phillips (M.S.-ATM 2010) received a first place award in the amateur division from the Black Hills Chapter of the American Meteorological Society for this snapshot she took of sundogs. A sundog, technically known as a parhelion, is a halo phenomenon consisting of either of two colored luminous spots that appear at points 22° on both sides of the sun and at the same elevation as the sun. It is caused by refraction of sunlight by ice crystals.

(Posted 12/28/2010)


Prescribed Burns Near Spearfish, SD

Darren Clabo, state wildfire meteorologist, took some photos during a prescribed, or controlled burn, near Spearfish, SD in early May, 2011. Fire crews were conducting the burn to return fire (natural process) to the grassland ecosystem.

Different vegetation types can cause varying smoke colors due to their differing chemical compositions or moisture content. Phragmite and cattails tend to burn with a deep black smoke, while cheatgrass, brome, and grama varieties tend to burn with white smoke.

Photo ©Darren Clabo, IAS

For more photos, check this link: Prescribed burns


Theresa AguilarTheresa giving presentationSDSM&T Atmospheric Sciences Student presents at AMS Annual Meeting

Theresa Aguilar, ATM-MS student, presented "An Investigation into the Spatiotemporal Scale of Two Wind Ramp Events in Northeastern Colorado" at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, January 23-27, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Also attending the meeting were Dr. Andy Detwiler and Dr. Paul Smith. Dr. Smith's presentation was on hail damage reduction activities.
Students at Mines Open HouseGo To Mines Open House - April 2011

Frances Sewell, Dan D'Amico, Heather Caye, Patrick Ealy, and Ciara Breen represented the Atmospheric Sciences department at the annual open house event held on campus, Saturday, April 16, 2011. They are students of Atmospheric Sciences in either the BSIS or MS degree programs at the School of Mines and are also members of the newly-formed Weather Association.
Picture of marshland

Duke University professor to speak about environmental genocide in Iraq

Dr. Curtis Richardson, professor of resource ecology at Duke University, will speak about environmental genocide that has taken place in Iraq’s Mesopotamian marshes, considered by many to be the cradle of Western civilization. This special seminar, sponsored by the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at SDSM&T, will be held on September 15 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 204 of the Classroom Building on the School of Mines campus. Richardson will provide historical background, review the ecological devastation that has resulted from a systematic plan by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government to drain the marshes, and discuss the future of the marshes and the remaining population of indigenous Marsh Arabs known as the “Madan,” a 5,000 year-old culture that formerly numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

(Posted 9/2/2011)

Atmospheric Sciences students receive fellowships

Three graduate students in atmospheric sciences and one undergraduate student in the BSIS-ATM program have received scholarship awards this fall semester.

Picture of Dan D'AMicoMr. Dan D'Amico, from Twinsburg, Ohio, was awarded a Nelson Fellowship. This fellowship was established at SDSM&T by Joseph F. Nelson, and is awarded in recognition of academic achievement by a student in either chemistry, chemical engineering, physics, geology, geological engineering, math, or atmospheric sciences. Dan, in his second year of study, is conducting his thesis research work under the direction of Dr. Bill Capehart.


Picture of Fran SewellMs. Frances Sewell, a second-year MS student from Monticello, Maine, was awarded the Harry and Laura Orville Scholarship for 2011-2012. This award was established to provide support for entering or current graduate students in atmospheric sciences or an environmental field. Frannie is completing her research work under the direction of Mr. Darren Clabo.


Picture of Emily FrenchMs. Emily French,
Torrington, CT, was recently awarded an Ivanhoe Excellence Scholarship. This scholarship was founded by L.F. "Bus" Ivanhoe, a School of Mines graduate and recipient of the Guy E. March Medal for outstanding achievement in his field. Emily is doing her research work under the guidance of Dr. Donna Kliche, and is also in her second year of studies.


Picture of Eric HoutMr. Eric Hout, a BSIS-ATM undergraduate, received three scholarships for this academic year: an American Meteorological Society Undergraduate Scholarship, a NASA Space Grant Consortium Scholarship, and a National Weather Association-Accuweather Undergraduate Meteorology Scholarship.


Congratulations to these students on their achievements and in receiving these scholarships!
(Posted 9/20/2011)

Dr. Harold D. Orville

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Dr. Harry Orville, longtime professor and research scientist at IAS. Services were held July 23 at Emmanual Episcopal Church in Rapid City. You may read his obituary and sign the guest book at the Edstrom and Rooks website using this link:  Serenity Springs Funeral Chapel.

(Posted 6/2011)

Dr. Harold Orville - A Tree is Planted in his Memory


n July 31, 2011, a honey locust tree was planted in front of the Mineral Industries building on the campus of SDSM&T in memory of Dr. Harry Orville. Dr. Orville, who passed away in June, was a distinguished professor emeritus of the atmospheric sciences department and was also a generous benefactor to the department and the School of Mines. In addition to being a favorite professor of the students, he also conducted research work, served as department chair, and served as an interim vice president of the university.



Photo of Andy Detwiler with Thunderbird tie

Dr. Andy Detwiler receives Thunderbird Award

Dr. Andrew Detwiler, professor and research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at SDSM&T, received the Thunderbird Award at the annual meeting of the Weather Modification Association, held in April in Park City, Utah. The annual Thunderbird Award, symbolized by a distinctive bolo tie, is an honored presentation which recognizes an individual who has made fundamental and continuing contributions to the art and science of weather modification. Dr. Detwiler has published numerous articles on weather modification and has been the editor of the association’s Journal of Weather Modification for six years.

Posted 4/28/2011

SD Mines Students Receive Trophies in the Weather Challenge Forecasting Contest

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the School of Mines has participated in the WxChallenge nationwide forecasting contest since 2006. WxChallenge, developed and managed by the University of Oklahoma, tests the forecasting skills of students and faculty from participating colleges and universities across the nation. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the School of Mines’ forecast team, consisting of 14 graduate and undergraduate students and one faculty member, ranked 19th overall out of 51 participating universities.

 Forecasts were made for five 2-week forecast periods each semester, with each period set in a different city. For each city, the maximum and minimum temperature, maximum wind speed, and cumulative precipitation were forecast for the day. The closer the forecaster came to the actual observations, the lower their score became. Trophies were awarded when a forecaster scored the lowest for a single period or overall for all forecast sites. Our students made forecasts for Seattle, Washington, in this year's contest.

Over 1600 individuals participated in the contest, with four School of Mines graduate student participants ranking in the top 50% in this group. Earning trophies were Dan McKemy (far left in photo), who placed 2nd overall and Shawn Honomichl, who placed 4th overall (second from right in photo); also pictured are Dr. Paul Smith, IAS director and Dr. Bill Capehart, Dept. Chair for Atmospheric Sciences. Other graduate students who placed in the top 50 were Dan D’Amico, who placed 7th and Joshua Brewer, who placed 22nd overall in that same category. 

(Posted 5/3/2011)

New Student Organization is formed at SD School of Mines

Atmospheric Sciences students at the School of Mines have formed the SDSM&T Weather Association. The purpose of this organization is to encourage increased knowledge of and interest in atmospheric science and meteorological phenomenon among its members. The organization is committed to community involvement through outreach and education programs aimed at individuals of all ages. Further, the organization is aimed at unifying students with interests in the atmospheric and earth sciences through group activities.

Patrick Ealy was elected the club’s president. Other officers are Daniel D’Amico, Vice President; Franny Sewell, Secretary; and Ciara Breen, Treasurer. Patrick and Ciara are undergrads in the BSIS-ATM program and Franny and Dan are M.S. students in the Atmospheric Sciences program. Staff advisors are Darren Clabo and Pam Cox.

One of the first activities of the newly-formed group was to coordinate with the National Weather Service to present a Skywarn Storm Spotter Training event, held on campus March 30 and open to the public. Attendance was mixed between students with an atmospheric science background and those from outside the program as well as many community members. In total, nearly 50 people were in attendance.

The group has plans for more activities, and you may visit their website by using the following link: SDSM&T Association Club or on Facebook. Membership is free and is open to students and members of the public alike.

(Posted April 2011)

  • Dr. Paul L. Smith was named Interim Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences in July 2010 (posted July 2010)

  • Dr. Donna Kliche was promoted from Research Scientist III to Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences in July 2010 (posted July 2010).

  • Shane Hansen (M.S.-ATM 2005) visited us on Friday, April 30, 2010. He is currently working for IMG, an environmental consulting firm in Sheridan, WY. He was gracious enough to present a guest lecture in our Air Quality class. It was great seeing you Shane! (posted 5/3/10)