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Meet Dr. Ed Zipser: HS3 Mission Co-Investigator, Severe Weather Events
May 1, 2012

Ed Zipser in communication headpiece Ed Zipser is a scientist who specializes in significant weather events such as thunderstorms, squall lines, flash floods and hurricanes. He is one of the co-investigators on the new Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission. HS3 is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin.

Zipser was one of the main participants in NASA's 2010 Hurricane mission called "Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP). He flew aboard NASA's DC-8 aircraft and studied storms like Hurricane Earl in early September 2010 that exploded into a Category 4 hurricane off the Atlantic coast.

He works with real data, often obtained through extensive field campaigns, to improve basic understanding of these phenomena. Many of these storms, although they may be intense, are too small for routinely available weather information, so the best way to get necessary data has often been by using equipment such as ground-based and aircraft-based radars, and satellites. To understand extreme rainfall in the tropics and rainfall patterns in the United States, Zipser uses the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite to track information.

Ever since the early planning stages in 1987, Zipser served on the Science Team for the NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) satellite TRMM. After the satellite was launched in late 1997 he was team leader for the TRMM "ground validation" field campaigns in Texas, Florida, Brazil and Kwajalein. He has been involved with numerous other field projects including the TWPICE (Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment, Darwin, Australia in 2006; Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes (TCSP), Costa Rica in 2005; SALLJEX (South American Low-Level Jet Exp; radar scientist on NOAA P-3 n 2003; CAMEX 3 and 4 in 1998 and 2001; Equatorial Mesoscale Experiment in northern Australia, 1987; Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE), 1992-1993; Taiwan Mesoscale Experiment, 1987; and many earlier programs in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific. Dr. Zipser served as one of the mission scientists for CAMEX-3 and 4 on NASA's DC-8, which mainly focused on hurricane and tropical storm intensities.

He has received numerous awards based on meteorological and space research efforts. Zipser is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and has received its Editor's Award and a Special Award for his previous field program research. Zipser currently serves on the Editorial board for the Bulletin of the AMS.

Some of his current research is aimed at using TRMM and other satellite data to determine the global distribution of severe storms around the world. While it is clear that convection over tropical oceans sometimes includes the intense "hot towers" and convective bursts that may precede the formation of tropical cyclones, the strongest convective storms in the tropics are found over land, and are more common over Africa than over the Amazon forests. The reasons for these differences are still under investigation.

He holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree from Florida State University in Meteorology, and a Bachelors of Science from Princeton University in Aeronautical Engineering. His previous positions include: senior scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Director of NCAR's Convective Storms Division, and Dept. Head, Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University. He is currently Professor and former Chair, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah.

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator