Dust-drought interactions in the southwest United States

We are seeking a highly-motivated Ph.D. student to work on a foundation-funded project investigating dust-climate interactions in the southwest United states at NAU. This project is the second phase of a collaborative research project between Northern Arizona University (with Drs. Nick McKay and Taylor Joyal) and Cornell University (with Drs. Toby Ault and Carlos Carillo). This project will leverage our strength and our recent success to tackle a new and highly ambitious project: tracking the flow of dust from the land surface into the atmosphere using low-cost sensors mounted on uncrewed aircraft and weather balloons.

The primary questions we seek to answer are:

(1) What are the primary short-term controls on dust emissions, transport and deposition in the region? How much influence does land management have on dust emission?

(2) Can we hindcast, and potentially forecast, dust emission, transport and deposition? What would a sustainable, large-scale dust monitoring, assimilation and forecasting operation look like, and how could it be used to informed land management and policy?

To address these questions, we will work collaboratively with Cornell University to design and deploy instruments in northeastern Arizona with the goal of monitoring the full dust cycle, including emission, transport and deposition. A major component of this project is using the results to inform recommendations for land management and policy, and communication of the key results to local and national stakeholders. The ideal candidate will have experience with fieldwork, lab and numerical analyses, and eager to work with local stakeholders including Native American communities, land management agencies and the funding foundation.

For more information, checkout a recent news article about the project, or get in touch with us.

Degree options at NAU include:

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