Dr. Schumacher's primary research interests involve understanding organized precipitation systems. In particular, those that produce extreme amounts of precipitation are of interest because of the potential they have for causing destructive flooding and flash flooding. A full list of scientific publications can be found here.
In the simplest terms, the most rain falls where it rains the hardest for the longest.* Therefore, we need to know what makes it rain hard, and what makes it rain for a long time. For example, it is uncommon for a single, ordinary thunderstorm to last long enough to produce so much rain that it causes a flood. But it is common for several storms to organize together into what is called a "mesoscale convective system" (MCS). Most MCSs move fairly quickly, producing relatively small amounts of rain over large areas. (These MCSs are very important to sustaining agriculture in places like the central United States.) Sometimes, though, they move slowly, or are arranged such that convective cells repeatedly pass over the same area, which can lead to huge rainfall amounts over small areas. These heavy-rain-producing MCSs are often difficult to predict, as it is often not apparent exactly where they will develop or how fast they will move.
Because of this, we want to know the answers to questions like:
- What are the synoptic, mesoscale, and storm-scale conditions that are most conducive to extreme local rainfall?
- What processes determine whether a particular storm system will produce small amounts of rain spread out over a large area, or a huge amount of rain in a local area?
- How good are numerical weather prediction models at forecasting these heavy rain events?
We use a variety of tools to explore these questions, including observations (in particular, data from the WSR-88D radar network) and numerical models of varying complexity.
Our research on convective precipitation is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, NOAA, and NASA for the following projects:
Furthermore, we are applying weather analysis and forecasting techniques to understand the transport and deposition of atmospheric nitrogen from eastern Colorado into Rocky Mountain National Park. Read more about this project, which is sponsored by the National Park Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In addition to these specific projects, Dr. Schumacher has broad research interests that include many other aspects of mesoscale meteorology, climatology, and the societal impacts of weather and weather forecasts.
Click one of the links below to continue reading about previous and current research:
A full list of publications can be found here.
*This is sometimes called the "First Law of Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting." It is attributed to C. F. Chappell, and examined in depth by Doswell et al. (1996).
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. AGS-1157425, AGS-1359727, and ACI-1450089. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Several papers from our research group have been published over the last few months, and are shown on the updated publications page.
Bob Tournay successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation on land-surface influences on mesoscale convective systems. Bob is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. Congrats, Bob!
Peter Goble successfully defended his M.S. thesis on relationships between soil moisture and drought in Colorado. He has since started a position as a research associate with the Colorado Climate Center. Congrats, Peter!
It has been a busy summer and fall for our research group, and this section has been long overdue for an update. Some of the news from the last six months includes:
- Two new graduate students, Sam Childs and Nathan Kelly, joined the research group in August 2015. Welcome to both of you!
- Greg Herman and Erik Nielsen successfully defended their MS theses in November 2015. Both students intend to continue for a PhD. Congrats!
- Numerous new papers, including several student-led articles, were accepted for publication and are shown on the updated publications page.
- Recent PhD graduate John Peters was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. John will rema
in at CSU to conduct his postdoctoral research.
- Our group was featured in a National Geographic story and video about the PECAN field campaign.
- Prof. Schumacher was featured in the video on flash floods in NBC Learn's educational series on natural hazards, "When Nature Strikes"
Our research group will be taking part in PECAN (Plains Elevated Convection at Night), a major field campaign to better understand the proce
sses governing nocturnal storms and rainfall. CSU's overview of the project can be found here.
A belated welcome to the research group to Stacey Hitchcock, a new Ph.D. student who started at CSU in the spring semester of 2015. Stacey earned her M.S. degree from the University of Oklahoma, and her Ph.D. research will include analyzing data collected during the PECAN field project.
Congratulations to John Peters, who successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation on heavy-rain-producing mesoscale convective systems!
A new paper exploring the sensitivity of convective rainfall to the specifics of the environmental moisture profile was recently accepted for publication in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.
The research webpage has received a long-overdue update to include current and recent research projects. Also, look for members of our research group at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in January!
The publication list has been updated and includes a recent publication by former undergraduate student Stephanie Stevenson, an analysis of the meteorological conditions leading to the Waldo Canyon Fire, and an investigation of different ensemble configurations for the prediction of extreme precipitation.
The publication list has been updated and includes recent publications by graduate students Sammy Lynch and John Peters!
Three new graduate students joined our research group: Greg Herman, Erik Nielsen, and Bob Tournay. Read more about their backgrounds here. Welcome!
Our group's research collecting data near the destructive Moore, Oklahoma tornado was highlighted in the Denver Post.
Our group will be participating in the Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) during May and June of 2013. We will be involved in collecting mobile upsonde data, and are also running a 4-km real-time WRF forecast in support of the forecasting efforts for the project.
We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting an interdisciplinary workshop for graduate students studying precipitation and floods, June 16-21, in Fort Collins. For more information, visit our website! If you are a graduate student in these areas, please consider applying.
The research group has been busy presenting at several recent conferences and workshops! Sammy Lynch gave a talk at the AMS Severe Local Storms Conference on her work on the Nashville flood of May 2010, and John Peters presented on his Masters research at SLS. Dr. Schumacher also presented at SLS on the climatology of extreme rainfall. Dr. Schumacher also presented two posters at the AMS Annual meeting in Austin, one on the CSU forecast efforts for DC3, and one on high-resolution ensemble forecasts of heavy rainfall.
Sammy Lynch and Charles Yost both successfully defended their Masters theses during the fall semester. Congratulations Sammy and Charles!
Former graduate student Kelly Keene's research on the "bow and arrow" was accepted for publication in Monthly Weather Review!
John Peters, who recently finished his M.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, joined the group as a new Ph.D. student. Welcome John!
A new paper was published in Monthly Weather Review, which used global ensemble forecasts from the TIGGE archive to diagnose the effects of moisture transport ahead tropical cyclones on midlatitude heavy precipitation. The full list of publications has also been updated.
Several members of the research group presented at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Graduate students Charles Yost and Sammy Lynch presented posters on their graduate research, Vanessa Vincente presented on her SOARS research from last summer, and undergraduate researcher Stephanie Stevenson presented a poster as well. (Click on the links above to download PDF files of the posters.) Russ Schumacher also gave a presentation, a link to the recording will be posted when it is available.
We have developed a website that includes some real-time weather data, monitoring of heavy precipitation, and a web-based archive of past extreme precipitation events. Please check them out and send along any comments or suggestions!
A new paper was published in Monthly Weather Review on the heavy rainfall and floods that occurred in the southern Plains in late June of 2007.
Three graduate students started in the research group at CSU--Charles Yost and Samantha Lynch, who transferred from the graduate program at Texas A&M, and Vanessa Vincente, a new M.S. student from Valparaiso University. Find out more about them here.
Dr. Schumacher and the research group began work in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University!
Kelly Keene successfully defended her M.S. thesis -- congratulations Kelly! Kelly will be starting a position as Associate Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Research presented at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Seattle: Poster presented by graduate student Kelly Keene on the ``bow and arrow'' phenomenon, talk given by Dr. Schumacher on storm-scale ensemble forecasts of the 2010 Texas and Arkansas floods, and poster presented by Dr. Schumacher on the June 2007 southern Plains heavy rainfall.