Daring to venture beyond my deskFebruary 11, 2016by Kelly Mahoney (NOAA)

Daring to venture beyond my desk

February 11, 2016by Kelly Mahoney (NOAA)

BOULDER, Colorado — As a research scientist who gets to study exciting weather events like severe storms and flash flooding, I often feel compelled to divulge that my job is largely a desk job, running models and analyzing data on a computer screen. Lest anyone think that my job is (or that I am) cooler than reality actually suggests, I am quick to reassure that there’s nothing daring or particularly adrenaline-rush-worthy about my day-to-day duties!

Lisa and I getting ready for take-off following our aircraft safety trainingMy office window view for most of the flight.

With that in mind, you can perhaps understand why I let my adrenaline flow unabashedly during virtually every second of the past week that I spent based in Honolulu — flying on the G-IV aircraft, launching dropsondes to collect data that we analyzed in real-time, and pondering all the fantastic research that this field study will make possible.

The “turnaround” flight

My colleague and friend Lisa Darby wrote below about our “dramatic” flight that resulted in a turnaround when intense thunderstorms were developing in areas that we hadn’t exactly anticipated.

My second flight was a big success, and the somewhat-calmer environment allowed me a little more time to consider all the data coming in as we flew, as well as how much hard work goes into collecting that data.

I’ll gladly forego legroom for the pilot’s jumpseat view!My view from the pilot’s jumpseat after take-off. Amazing!

One realization that struck me again and again throughout my experience was the magnitude and intensity of the work that goes into a field campaign. I am simply blown away by the endurance and perseverance of all of my colleagues in the field leading this effort. Wake-up calls at 4am lead to long days planning and monitoring flight and weather conditions, all the way through late-night dinners spent planning the next day — only to do it again the next day, and the next, and the next…

As I sit at my desk back in Boulder getting ready to fire off another computer model run (which now seems like SUCH an easy way to produce data relative to field work!), I have truly gained an immense appreciation for the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into pulling off a project of this magnitude. I’m so thankful I got to watch and learn and get my adrenaline rush for a small part of it!

By CIRES on February 11, 2016.

Exported from Medium on January 12, 2017.

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