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Atmospheric Science


For over 35 years, the Atmospheric Science Program at Texas Tech University has been dedicated to research of the lower atmosphere.  The main thrust of the program is to develop a better understanding of severe and extreme weather events and, at the same time, educate the next generation of atmospheric scientists. 

The Atmospheric Science Group is physically located on the 12th floor of the Media and Communication building on the Tech campus.  We offer a program of study leading to the Master of Science degree in Atmospheric Science and the Ph.D. degree in Geosciences.  In addition, courses in Atmospheric Science are offered at the undergraduate level to meet the general education requirements of Texas Tech University.  A minor in Atmospheric Science is offered for both B.S. and B.A. students. 

An extensive array of observational and modeling facilities is available to students and faculty, permitting the exploration of a wide variety of meteorological phenomena.  The field facilities are routinely used for data collection in proximity to extreme weather events including tornadoes and hurricanes.

Latest News


Drs. Chris Weiss, Eric Bruning and Johannes Dahl received a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment - Southeast (VORTEX-SE) project. This grant builds on and extends previous work using the TTU StickNet platforms and the Ballooning and Observation Laboratory for Thunderstorms and complementary efforts utilizing high-resolution storm-scale numerical models. This new grant includes additional field observations in Tennessee and Alabama in Mar-Apr 2017.


M.S. student Lexie Herdt, a member of Prof. Vanos's research group, received an Outstanding Poster Presentation Award from the AMS Board of Urban Environment for her presentation at the AMS Annual Meeting in January 2017 in Seattle, WA. Her presentation was titled "Urban Microclimate Monitoring in Seoul, Korea: Fine Scale Summer Heating along the Cheonggye Stream Renewal Project."

Ph.D. student Vanna Chmielewski, a member of Prof. Bruning's research group, was selected to receive an Outstanding Student Paper Award for her oral presentation at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting, "An analysis of small changes in environment which resulted in diverse charge structures on 4 June 2012 in West Texas."

Ph.D. student Brock Burghardt, a member of Prof. Ancell's research group, was awarded 1st place among all student poster presentations at the 2016 AMS Conference on Severe Local Storms for his work "Improving Spread Characteristics in a Convection Allowing Ensemble."

Dr. Brian Ancell has received the Texas Tech University Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award. This award is given annually to a small number of TTU faculty who demonstrate excellence in a variety of high-impact research activities.


A lightning study from Prof. Bruning's group was featured as an AGU research spotlight: FIND OUT MORE


Drs. Chris Weiss, Eric Bruning and Johannes Dahl received a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationas part of the Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment - Southeast (VORTEX-SE), which will take place in Tennessee and Alabama Mar-Apr 2016. Observations from the StickNet platforms and the Ballooning and Observation Laboratory for Thunderstorms will complement efforts utilizing high-resolution storm-scale numerical models.


Dr. Brian Ancell received an NSF grant as part of the Big Weather Web project to address big data issues involved with numerical weather prediction. He is collaborating with other atmospheric and computer scientists to create a distributed database model to support research and education associated with probabilistic ensemble weather forecasting.


Dr. Chris Weiss has been awarded a grant to investigate how adaptive observations from unmanned aircraft systems can be used to improve forecasts of specific hazards within severe thunderstorms. More information on this project can be found HERE .


Dr. Brian Ancell is part of a collaborative government, academic, and private industry team that has been awarded a DOE gr ant entitled "The Wind Forecast Improvement Project in Complex Terrain", also known as "WFIP2". This project focuses on improving Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model physics to improve the prediction of wind power in complex terrain where the atmosphere is strongly forced by local and regional topography.

Brian Ancell, Associate Professor
Numerical weather prediction, data assimilation, severe storms, wind power forecasting.

Eric Bruning, Associate Professor
Cloud and precipitation microphysics, thunderstorm electrification and lightning.

Johannes Dahl, Assistant Professor
Dynamics of convective storms, cloud scale numerical modeling and forecasting severe thunderstorms.

Song-Lak Kang, Assistant Professor,
Atmospheric boundary layer processes, improvement of mesoscale models used in wind power forecasting.

Richard Peterson, Professor Emeritus,
Atmospheric vortices, boundary-layer meteorology, dynamics of severe storms, dust storms, history of meteorology, wind engineering.

John Schroeder, Professor,
Wind flow and boundary layer structure in extreme events, instrumentation, meso- and microscale observational networks, wind engineering, statistical and time series analysis.

Justin Weaver, Instructor
Operational meteorology.

Shuo Wang, Research Assistant Professor,
Hydrometeorology, hydrologic prediction, uncertainty qauntification, data assimilation, flood risk assessment, water resources systems analysis, high-resolution climate projection.

Yonggang Wang, Research Assistant Professor,
Mesoscale dynamics and precipitation systems, cloud physics, climate variability and change, data assimilation, numerical weather prediction.

Christopher Weiss, Associate Professor,
Convection initiation, dryline dynamics, supercell structure, tornadogenesis.

ClassThe Atmospheric Science Program offers a course of study leading to the Master of Science degree in Atmospheric Science and the Ph.D. in Geosciences (atmospheric science track). In addition, courses in Atmospheric Science are offered at the undergraduate level to meet general education requirements. A minor in Atmospheric Science is offered for both B.S. and B.A. students.



Graduate Student Support
Teaching assistantships are available for qualified graduate student applicants on a competitive basis. These assistantships provide the opportunity for students to acquire instructional skills while further developing their understanding of topics in atmospheric science. As a matter of university policy, out-of-state tuition and fees are waived for graduate students who serve as teaching assistants in the department.

Research assistantships might also be available for qualified applicants depending upon the research needs of the faculty. These research assistantships allow students to participate in funded research projects in the field of atmospheric science. As is the case with teaching assistants, out-of-state tuition and fees are waived for graduate students who serve as research assistants in the department.

Application Procedure
Admission to the graduate degree program is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School and is contingent upon acceptance by the department. Each applicant seeking admission to the Atmospheric Science Program must therefore apply through both the Texas Tech University, Office of Graduate Admissions and the Atmospheric Science Program in the Department of Geosciences. Applications for Fall semester admission should be received by February 1.

Research in the Atmospheric Science Program is focused on, but not limited to, several major themes. These research areas include:


Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Lightning
Observational and numerical modeling studies of thunderstorm cold pool formation, the origin of low-level vorticity, and vorticity dynamics at storm and tornado scales. Thunderstorm electrification processes including cloud microphysical conditions.  Dryline structure with an emphsis on convection initiation.

Dolly Deployments


Investigation of the characteristics of wind flow in landfalling hurricanes

Atmo Thermocline

Boundary Layer Processes

Impacts of various surface heterogeneity factors on the structures and processes of the atmospheric boundary layer and their interactions with other weather and climate phenomena

Wind Power

Wind Power Meteorology

Investigation of the characteristics of spatial and temporal variations of the wind field in the lower part of the atmosphere under various weather regimes.  Ensemble NWP techniques are studied toward improved probabilistic prediction of features such as wind ramps that are associated with critical aspects of wind power forecasts.

Observatinal Networks

Instrumentation and Data Analysis

An adaptable rapidly-deployable array of StickNet platforms, the TTUKa mobile Doppler radars, and the West Texas Mesonet are used in a variety of research focused on convective initiation, model sensitivity, severe storms, hurricanes and wind energy

Dust Storms

Human Biometeorology and Climatology

Observational and modeling investigations into the wide-ranging effects of atmospheric processes on human health, both now and in the future


Numerical Weather Prediction
Ensemble sensitivity analysis, LES models and mesoscale modeling techniques are used to study high-impact weather events, the atmospheric boundary layer and aspects of wind power




KA BandThe Atmospheric Science Program maintains exceptional facilities that are immediately available to students and faculty for research and teaching. These research facilities include:




The Texas Tech Ka-band Radars (TTUKa)

Two Ka-band mobile high-frequency Doppler radars to analyze the fine-scale structure of atmospheric phenomena.

200 m Tower

An instrumented tower sampling meteorological variables (30 Hz) at ten levels.


A large array of portable, rapidly-deployable atmospheric measurement stations.

The Measurement and Analysis Laboratory
An NSF-sponsored lab dedicated to topics in instrumentation and signal processing.
West Texas Lightning Mapping Array

A real-time network of VHF sensors providing total lightning mapping across West Texas, supporting research as well as local and national operational testbed operations.

Research Instrumentation Laboratory
Laboratory space for ongoing research projects requiring a clean development and diagnostic environment
West Texas Mesonet

Over 90 instrumented sites across West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, providing measurements of the atmosphere and soil properties at an average inter-station spacing of 50 km. In addition, there are 7 boundary layer SODAR units.

Ballooning and Observation Laboratory for Thunderstorms

Mobile platform for field operations coordination, radiosonde launches, and instrument maintenance

The High Performance Computing Center (HPCC)

Several linux clusters available for numerical simulations. Visualization facilities are also accessible, including a virtual reality theatre

Boundary Layer Wind Profiler

A 900 MHz lower-troposphere wind profiler providing routine data at 20 minute intervals.


A 10 m diameter chamber used to simulate the velocity and pressure profiles of scaled tornado-like vortices.

Vaisala Sounding System
A radiosonde platform used to support operations and research.

Graduates from the Atmospheric Science Program have many employment opportunities available, including positions at universities, government research labs, the National Weather Service, and private forecasting firms.