John J. Cassano
Ph.D. Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Wyoming, 1998
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC)
Cassano’s research involves the study of the meteorology and climate of both polar regions using regional climate models and numerical weather prediction models, in-situ and remotely sensed observations, and various data analysis techniques. His main areas of active research include regional climate modeling and model development, analysis of coupled climate system components, and numerical weather prediction.
Current Research: Polar Climate and Meteorology
The Cassano Polar Climate and Meteorology research group is involved in both numerical modeling of polar climate and observational studies in polar regions. Our research group recently completed the first wintertime flights of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Antarctica.
This project used an Aerosonde UAS to make detailed observations of air-sea interactions in the Terra Nova Bay polynya, a region of open water surrounded by sea ice and land (Figure 1). Formation and maintenance of this polynya is linked to strong katabatic winds draining from the East Antarctic plateau into Terra Nova Bay. These winds promote strong heat and moisture fluxes over the open water of the polynya, leading to pronounced modification of both the ocean and atmosphere.
During September 2009, we flew a total of 130 flight hours during eight missions to Terra Nova Bay. These flights were completed at the end of the Antarctic winter, with air temperatures less than -30°C and wind speeds in excess of hurricane force (up to 40 m/s). UAS observations included standard atmospheric state variables (temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind, Figure 2), net radiation, aerial photographs of the surface (Figure 3), and laser-altimeter observations of surface features such as wave state and sea-ice thickness. These measurements provided the first in situ observations of the atmospheric state and air-sea interaction over this polynya during the late winter/early spring. Data from this field campaign will provide insight into the formation of Antarctic bottom water, details of the atmospheric forcing for this polynya, and validation data for high-resolution numerical simulations.