The Clarion

Grants provide for weather and climate courses

Lauren Sutter, Staff Writer

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Grants awarded to Madison College have helped offer weather and climate course

Madison College weather and climate courses have been very fortunate in the past few years. In 2009, Madison College received a Unidata equipment grant, with funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The funds from NSF provided meteorological data and software to colleges and universities across the United States in support of weather and climate education.

The principal investigator on this project, Dr. Matthew Lazzara, is a Madison College weather and climate instructor. The grant offered funds to purchase computer systems that collect real-time radar, satellite and surface observations, along with other associated information such as National Weather Service forecasts. The new system has helped to make the weather and climate course more interactive.

“This new system has allowed me to transform portions of the hands-on activities from being paper-based to using the new hardware and data. Real-time weather discussions can now include displays from this system in each of my weather and climate class meetings,” Dr. Lazzara said.

Madison College has grown its weather and climate course offerings since 2009. In 2011, the college was awarded a grant from NASA to develop a climate and climate change course. This grant was designed specifically for two-year schools similar to Madison College, in hopes of providing an opportunity for a class that would otherwise be unavailable.

According to the department, the goal for this course is to increase the literacy of the community. The course’s foremost focus is on the science of climate, and particularly on how climate can change by both human activity and natural means. This course covers many important topics within the meteorology field, including what controls climate, how climate is modeled, observations of climate change, the description of climate, and climate cycles and feedbacks.

This educational course begun in the spring semester of 2012, and will be available again this coming spring semester. It brings to light many topics that deserve attention within our society.

“This project has Madison College partnering with the UW-Madison, and as such, the course does transfer to the UW. We are striving to bring topics such as this to as wide an audience as possible. Additionally, as required by the grant from NASA, we teach this course in a ‘green’ format – online or hybrid formats,” Lazzara said.

Those in the department feel that it is important that students at Madison College take advantage of the great opportunities. The new computer systems and the upcoming course are great ways for students to become more informed about their surroundings.

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Grants provide for weather and climate courses