Meet the Experts Live Q&A with NCAR|UCAR experts

Meet the Experts Climate Science

What is it like to work at NCAR|UCAR?! Join us as we talk with experts to learn about what they do in their work, the highlights and challenges, and how it impacts us and our world. Then ask them anything you want to know about what it's like to do their jobs! The programs last 30-45 minutes and are geared towards middle and high school students, but anyone is welcome to join. 

The 2022-2023 Meet the Experts Series will kick off in September with monthly live programs, and recordings available following each one. All programs are listed in Mountain Time.

Upcoming Programs

Meet the Experts will return Fall 2022. Check back later this summer for our new schedule.

Previous Meet the Experts sessions:

Click on the links below for archived video recordings or explore our YouTube Playlist.


Networking at the speed of light

Have you ever wondered how one computer “talks” to another? Ask a network engineer! Network engineers connect computers, people, and places by designing and building systems to transport computer data thousands of miles in the blink of an eye. Join us to meet NCAR network engineer Carlos Rojas-Torres and learn about his work with the Front Range GigaPoP project that delivers high speed internet for research and education. He’ll show us how he uses fiber optics to send information as light over thousands of miles!  

Science in the sky
*Special collaborative program with Denver Museum of Nature and Science! 

Join us this month for a special collaboration of Meet the Experts and Scientists in Action! Our atmosphere is far more than just a layer of air around the earth—it's a dynamic invisible ocean that's constantly flowing, shaping weather and moving energy around our planet. In turn our atmosphere above is regularly being impacted by human activity and natural processes below. But how do we know what's happening so far over our heads? The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado is sponsored by the National Science Foundation to use specialized research airplanes that analyze atmospheric chemistry, monitor air quality, study clouds, track climate change, and more. Join the experts who care for these special science aircraft for a live look at aviation, atmospheric science and more, broadcasting live from NCAR’s Research Aviation Facility as conditions permit.

Coding Earth's climate

From sea ice to cloud cover to incoming energy from the sun, scientists gather and process a lot of information to better understand our planet. Software engineers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research work in data science to help make all of this data usable, understandable, and accessible for scientists and the public. Join us to learn how NCAR software engineer Max Grover is helping improve our understanding of global climate through coding, computer science, creativity, and problem solving. 

Storing science for supercomputers

Supercomputers allow scientists to process an extraordinary amount of scientific data and conduct an incredible number of calculations to predict hurricanes, wildfire paths, solar storms, climate change impacts, and when it might start raining in your town. But where do we keep all of that important data once we have it? Whose job is it to take care of it all? Join NCAR systems engineers Jenett Tillotson and Joey Mendoza behind the scenes at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center for an inside look at a supercomputer and the super storage it takes to keep scientists exploring. 

The sky's the limit: Pathways to a future in STEM

For students who like science, art, building, coding, writing, or working with people, these skills (and many others) could lead to a career someplace like the National Center for Atmospheric Research! NCAR internship and student program coordinators reveal their own career journeys, discuss diverse pathways to STEM careers, and answer questions about what actions students can take today to help them find their way to a bright future in STEM.

What's cool about climate science?

From exploring glaciers to creating mathematical models of Antarctic ice sheets, NCAR climate scientist Gunter Leguy is an expert in icy science. Studying land ice like mountain glaciers and ice sheets can help us better understand sea level rise and make better plans for our warming future. Join us to chat with Gunter about his unexpected path to becoming an ice expert and the science behind how climate affects our planet’s ice today and in the future.

Space weather sleuths

How do we observe and learn about something that is 93 million miles away from Earth and burns at a temperature of up to 27 million degrees Fahrenheit?! Join NCAR scientists Rebecca Centeno Elliott and Astrid Maute to explore their work studying the magnetism of the Sun, and how that affects Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field!

What's in the air, and why do we care?

Many of us around the U.S. noticed visible air pollution this summer due to widespread wildfire smoke. But many other types of air pollution exist that we can’t even see! NCAR atmospheric chemist Frank Flocke’s job is to measure and monitor the gases, chemicals, and particles that affect our air quality. We’ll chat with him about what he finds in the air samples he collects from NCAR’s research aircraft, and how that affects our everyday lives on the ground. 



3D-printed science labs & the Internet of Things

Nowadays many tools in our lives from phones to watches and even light bulbs, are getting “smart”– taking measurements and sharing data about their surroundings. Did you know that advances in this Internet of Things may actually help us better forecast the weather? Many of our weather forecasts use data collected from everyday people around the world, and now, like something out of science fiction, you can even 3D-print your own weather science station! Join NCAR scientist Agbeli Ameko for the next “Meet the Experts” session to explore amazing new opportunities for you and me to make weather observations in our own backyards.

Testing the limits of weather predictability

How can a butterfly in Brazil trigger a snowstorm in Colorado? And what does this mean for weather predictions? Scientists in the NCAR Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory used one of the most-detailed weather models ever developed to “hunt” for the ultimate limit of weather predictability. Get your questions ready for this week’s session with scientist Falko Judt, talking about chaos theory, the butterfly effect, and why we will (likely) never be able to forecast the weather for more than 2-3 weeks into the future.

Ocean-sniffing airplanes and climate science around Antarctica

The remote Southern Ocean around Antarctica supports diverse ecosystems in harsh conditions, exchanges heat between our atmosphere and the deep ocean, and absorbs a large amount of industrial CO2 emissions. Despite its importance in our dynamic world, we know relatively little about the Southern Ocean and how it will respond to climate change. Scientists are working to shed light on this mystery using a special Gulfstream V research aircraft, which can tell us about the large-scale workings of biology and physics within the Southern Ocean. Join NCAR scientist Britt Stephens in this week’s “Meet the Experts” as he tells us stories and answers your questions live about his adventures flying around Antarctica in the name of climate science.

What's so super about supercomputers?

Supercomputers allow scientists to conduct an extraordinary number of calculations to predict hurricanes, wildfire paths, solar storms and when it might start raining in your own backyard. But what exactly is a supercomputer? What goes into taking care of them? Join NCAR systems engineers Jenett Tillotson and Ben Matthews behind the scenes at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center to get an inside look at the NCAR supercomputer, Cheyenne.

If you think predicting the weather is hard, try predicting wildfires!

Wildfires are deadly and expensive, but also natural and inevitable. One key to living with wildfires while reducing their harm is to predict them with computer models. In some ways that is even harder than predicting the weather, because the weather forecast is only one piece of a good wildfire prediction!  Join an NCAR scientist to explore how weather affects wildfires AND how wildfires affect weather. He will also describe new modeling technology called the Colorado Fire Prediction System, which NCAR recently developed for the state of Colorado.

Cars, trains, and weather

Curtis Walker, a scientist at NCAR's Research Applications Laboratory, studies how weather impacts travel, specifically cars and trains. Whether you're traveling to work or school, driving across the country on vacation, or waiting for a package, all kinds of weather can have big impacts on surface transportation. He will share his story of how he came to work at this unique intersection, overview weather impacts to roads and rails, and preview the future of self-driving cars in a world of weather!

Deeper learning in 3D

When we can learn in three dimensions, we build deeper understanding. It looks more like the world we live in! Bryan Guarente, a meteorologist and educational designer with the UCAR COMET program, will help us explore one meteorological example in 3D that will take us from a personal understanding to a global perspective. *If you are able, join from your computer, and bring your web-enabled mobile device to participate more fully! 

A field of opportunities: Science meets education

UCAR SOARS program alumnus Karl C. Clarke will share his experience working at the intersection of science and education at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He'll share how his experience in atmospheric science, citizen science, and science teaching allows him to help scientists connect with the public, and prepare the next generation of scientists to collaborate at one of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories.

Traveling with the water cycle

Join us to hear about the work of Adriana Bailey, an NCAR atmospheric scientist who studies clouds, rain, and moisture in our air, all from a flying laboratory! She'll tell us about her trip to Barbados last winter to fly on a hurricane hunter airplane named "Miss Piggy", studying the trade wind cumulus clouds that matter so much for climate. 

Measuring snowfall

If you live in a place with snowy winters (or even just visit!), you have heard meteorologists predicting how much snow we might get, or discussing how much snow fell in a certain storm. We need to know whether it's an inch or a foot! NCAR scientist Roy Rasmussen will tell us about different methods that are used for measuring snowfall, and why it's important to know. 

Ice is nice: Monitoring changes in polar sea ice

Alice DuVivier, a scientist in NCAR's Climate & Global Dynamics Laboratory, studies polar sea ice—how it changes both seasonally and over longer periods of time. She'll describe her job and what she's finding, and explain what that tells us about the impacts of rising global temperatures.

Those magnificent mechanics and their flying machines

Many NCAR|UCAR scientists rely on the use of specially-equipped research aircraft to gather critical data. Andrew Green, an Aircraft Mechanic, will tell us about what happens at the NCAR Research Aviation Facility, and how he works tp keep the NCAR planes in shape and ready for their missions.

What are data visualizations made of? Science, art and video games!

NCAR scientist Nihanth Cherukuru's experience with Doppler Lidars, data visualization, computer programming and game development led him to his current job. He'll tell us about his work using augmented reality and games to help scientists and the public visualize scientific data.

A matter of words: Science is multilingual! 

UCAR's COMET program supports education and training for environmental science all over the world. But "all over the world" means they can't do everything in English! David Russi will tell us how his work as a translator combines science, travel, language skills, and technology to help Spanish-speaking students learn in their home language

Improving models and forecasts: Hurricane edition!

High-impact weather events such as hurricanes are notoriously hard for weather models to forecast, especially days in advance! Using 2019's Hurricane Barry as an example, Tracy Hertneky—a scientist in NCAR's Research Applications Laboratory—will describe how her research provides vital information to help improve those forecasts. 

Raising the alert: Improving predictions of severe thunderstorms 

Thunderstorms are one of the most dangerous and destructive types of weather, as they can produce strong winds, hail, and tornadoes. But they're also very difficult to predict! NCAR scientist Christina Kalb will tell us about her work using weather models and field experiments to improve predictions of thunderstorms and their related hazards.

Climate change and our ocean

The ocean absorbs a large amount of fossil fuel carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to slow the rate of global warming. However, as it takes up more and more carbon, the ocean becomes more acidic. Holly Olivarez is an oceanographer at the University of Colorado Boulder who does research with NCAR studying the ocean's absorption of carbon dioxide. Holly will tell us how climate change motivated her to become a scientist and what she's learning in her research, and then answer your questions! *Want to play along on a demo with Holly? Be ready with a small glass of vinegar, and a piece of chalk or antacid tablet (like Tums).

Not your average aircraft: A mobile laboratory for weather research

NCAR manages two aircraft that are specially equipped to collect data on atmospheric phenomena ranging from hurricanes and convective storms to wildfire's effects on the atmosphere to how mountains change weather. Software engineer and data manager Janine Aquino will share her adventures writing code to control robots that collect weather measurements, and traveling all over the world while supporting NCAR’s mission of providing state-of-the-art resources to answer fundamental research questions.

Adventures in science filmmaking

There are so many paths you can take in the world of science; not every PhD has to lead to a career in teaching and research. Dan Zietlow, NCAR visual media specialist, will describe his journey from geophysicist to science filmmaker. Then he'll take us on an adventure to learn about an NCAR-supported field project (you vote on which one!), get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to document them, and answer your questions about his work!

Chasing storms in Argentina

Atmospheric scientists often use computer models to simulate and study the atmosphere, but sometimes we leave the virtual world to observe storms IRL (in real life)! NCAR Advanced Studies Program postdoctoral fellow Annareli Morales will share stories from her field work in Argentina, where she launched weather balloons into thunderstorms.

Eyes on ozone!

Ozone is an invisible gas that can be both helpful and harmful, depending on where in the Earth's atmosphere it's located. But how can we understand and monitor it if we can't see it?! Carl Drews, a software engineer from NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling Lab, will use computer-generated images to take us on an aerial tour to see ozone billowing off the Denver-Boulder area, and fly us through the recent Arctic ozone hole.

What can plants tell us about air pollution?

We all use plants every day in many ways, but NCAR scientist Danica Lombardozzi uses plants to learn what's in the air! Some plants are bioindicators of air pollution, which means that they are sensitive to certain pollutants such as the gas ozone. Danica will tell us about her work at NCAR, including how plants help her understand ozone pollution!

Zooming in on future hurricanes

Hurricanes are one of the most destructive weather phenomena on Earth. Damaging winds, flooding, rains, and storm surge frequently impact our vulnerable coastlines. What can we expect future hurricanes to look like? NCAR scientist James Done runs computer simulations of hurricanes on powerful supercomputers to figure out how bad our weather could get. Join James to discuss how the science is done and what it is telling us.

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