Atmospheric Reanalyses: A tool for investigating hazardous weather events

Aaron Kennedy is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Dakota

Abstract for Weekly Colloquium on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 4 pm in Harvill 318

The United States experiences a number of weather hazards ranging from severe convective storms to blizzards. These events are often isolated in space and/or time and this makes investigations of these hazards difficult. Observations (even in this country) are simply too sparse to adequately explore the environments surrounding these events.

In the past decades, a number of groups have combined fixed data assimilation systems with underlying weather or climate models to produce gridded representation of the atmosphere. Coined atmospheric reanalyses, these datasets are now commonly used to investigate a variety of topics ranging from case studies to climatologies of specific weather events.

This talk will discuss how reanalyses can be used to investigate hazardous weather events, such as severe convective storms and blizzards. Topics covered will include the strengths and weaknesses of reanalyses, as well as methods to analyze these datasets.


As a child, Aaron Kennedy tracked tropical storms in South Carolina, to severe thunderstorms in northern Illinois. In reponse to this interest, he sought meteorology degrees at the University of Oklahoma. His experiences there led him to pursue a career in research. Storm chasing cemented in his mind the importance of field work and direct observations of the atmosphere. After finishing his BS (2004) and MS (2006) degrees in Oklahoma, Kennedy left to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of North Dakota. Instead of focusing on severe storms and tornadoes, he conducted climate research, ironically using data collected at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Southern Great Plains Site in Lamont, Oklahoma. After finishing his PHD (2011), he stayed at UND as an NSF postdoctoral fellow. In 2013 he continued at UND as Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Kennedy's interests today include convection, clouds, winter weather, and climate. His focus is on synergistic studies that use combinations of models/observations/reanalyses to advance our knowledge of these topics. He is also interested in local meteorology (such as blizzards and blowing snow) and the societal impacts it has on the region.

Read more on Aaron Kennedy's UND website. Contact: