April 2017
Message 62

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[Met-jobs] USGS internship in meteorological modeling around volcanoes for NSF-supported PhD students

From "Kern, Christoph" <>
To <>
Date Wed, 19 Apr 2017 09:21:10 -0700

A USGS internship for NSF-funded PhD students is currently available to undertake research on meteorological modeling around volcanoes with the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Science Center.


Scientists measure volcanic degassing to monitor activity, provide information for eruption forecasts, and assess environmental impacts and gas hazards. Gas emission measurements require accurate knowledge of plume speed downwind of volcanic vents. We seek a researcher to explore the ability of mesoscale atmospheric models to accurately determine wind fields around large volcanic edifices.


Volcanic gas emission rates are typically measured with remote sensing instruments such as Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS) or ultraviolet sulfur dioxide (SO2) cameras. These instruments measure the abundance of sulfur dioxide in a cross-section of a volcanic plume which, when multiplied by the plume propagation speed, yields the volcanic emission rate. Studies have shown that one of the largest sources of error in these measurements stems from an inaccurate estimate of the plume speed, particularly when a volcanic plume is propagating in the wake of a large volcanic edifice. Meteorological wind modeling provides a tool for estimating wind speed at the plume’s location, and many observatories around the world use the output from global wind models to estimate plume speed. However, the resolution of these models is not sufficient to take near-surface wind effects into account, which frequently leads to significant errors. The primary goal of this project is to explore the ability of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale wind model to forecast plume speeds downwind of a volcano. We seek an applicant interested in implementing model runs at a few well-monitored volcanoes and validating the model output with wind measurements obtained from sources such as anemometers, dual-beam DOAS instruments, and SO2 cameras.


This internship will involve collaboration with volcanologists at the U.S. Geological Survey stationed at the Cascades Volcano Observatory (Vancouver, WA), the Alaska Volcano Observatory (Anchorage, AK) and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI), and the applicant could be based out of any of these centers during the internship. The U.S. Geological Survey Core Science System’s “Yeti” computer cluster will provide the computational resources required for this project.


Internship support of approximately $5K is available to the successful applicant through a partnership with NSF, either through the Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP) or the Graduate Student Preparedness (GSP) . At present, only PhD students who are currently supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) funding are eligible to apply—this may be in the form of a graduate research fellowship, or any active NSF research grant (regardless of named or PI status). Ultimately, the selected applicant will need to submit an NSF supplement request. The current deadline for GRIP proposals is May 6, 2017. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

Further information:


Eligible students interested in this opportunity should contact Christoph Kern ( to discuss potential research avenues. 

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