Copyright, Steve Hambuchen
I like to explore mathematical ways to describe the world around me. I found my home in Oceanography and Atmospheric Science: the rich natural world surrounds us with swirling eddies, layers of clouds, crashing waves, and meandering rivers of water within giant oceans. As a visual learner, I became interested in developing image processing techniques to investigate the fluid earth using digital images, video, and satellite images.
My current work uses ground-based sensors and digital images to estimate the three-dimensional geometry of shallow cumulus clouds. Ground-based images are one of the best methods to observe these small yet bright and relatively warm clouds. Our description of the cloud geometry can be used to inform and validate weather and climate models.
My dissertation work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography investigated wave breaking in the deep ocean, for example under strong winds or stormy conditions. We evaluated the kinematics (motion) and dynamics (energy and momentum) of whitecaps as the wind blew offshore from the Pacific coast of Southern Mexico. The winds funnel through a gap in the Sierra Madre mountains called the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, resulting in a fascinating environment of wind, waves, upwelling, and mixing. I also did postdoctoral work at the University of Washington with the Joint Institute for Studies of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) where I studied the influence of the Gulf Stream on satellite observations of wind velocity over the ocean.