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Atmospheric Sciences Doctoral Candidate Wins Prestigious NASA Fellowship

Adam Bell was chosen as the quarterly winner of the NPP Award.

Dec 17, 2020

Adam Bell, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, was recently selected as a fellow in the prestigious NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP), a quarterly award that only four fellows receive each year.

The program seeks to give highly qualified early-career scientists, and some senior scientists, the opportunity to work with NASA on high-level research projects in a broad range of topics, typically over the course of one to three years.

Bell’s current research is centered on the remote sensing of ice clouds from satellites — primarily using microwaves with wavelengths below 1 mm. Cloud ice particles in particular are stronger scatterers of microwaves at these wavelengths, and the amount of light scattered is proportional to the mass of ice in clouds.

Bell’s research is aimed at quantifying the sensitivities of the various microwave bands below 1 mm and then leveraging that information to develop a method for determining the mass of ice in a given cloud and the ice particle size. This research is intended to expand our understanding of the interaction of sub-mm radiation and ice particles, in advance of two upcoming satellite launch missions, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Ice Cloud Imager (ICI) mission and NASA’s Compact Submm-Wave and LWIR Polarimeters for Cirrus Ice Cloud Properties (SWIRP) mission, which both use sub-mm radiometers.

The NPP fellowship will involve performing and/or analyzing aerosol retrievals, either from airborne and satellite polarimeters — such as the PARASOL mission satellite—or from lidar—such as NASA’s HSRL or CALIPSO lidars — as part of NASA’s Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE). Two of the goals of this project are improving our understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions and improving satellite retrieval algorithms, so Bell’s current work leans into the goals of this project well.

“Many of the tools and methods I’ve learned through my current work, such as the general process of inferring physical atmospheric and cloud properties from spaceborne measurements, can be adapted to help accomplish my research goals as a NASA postdoctoral fellow,” Bell says.

Bell defended his dissertation this semester and will begin work on the NPP research projects after graduation.

By David Coates

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