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April 2002

Random Profile:
Jimy Dudhia

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Jimy Dudhia, a project scientist in the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division..

Why do the Olympics mean so much to Jimy? Jimy’s mother is from Finland and his father is from India. The two met at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, where his father, Manu, was a spectator and his mother, Sointu, delivered mail to the athletes. They married in 1956, and Jimy came along one year later. “In some way, I owe my existence to the Olympics,” he says. His parents chose the name Jimy, incidentally, because they wanted an English name—but thought the second “m” in Jimmy was redundant.
Jimy Dudhia (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

How he became interested in meteorology: Jimy, who grew up in southeast London, got a bachelor’s degree in physics from Imperial College, London University. He decided to specialize in meteorology because he liked the idea of working on issues that were easily visualized. “You can actually simulate things that you can see outside your window. It seemed to me more relevant, and more people would understand what I was talking about if I described my work.” He received his doctorate in meteorology in 1984, also from Imperial College.

What did he accomplish at Penn State University? Realizing that “most of the opportunities were in the United States” for meteorological work, Jimy left England in 1985 to do postdoctoral work at Pennsylvania State University. He focused on fine-scale modeling of tropical convection. But soon he turned to creating finer-scale detail in the sophisticated weather model that was then known as the fourth generation of the Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM4). It was upgraded to the MM5 in part because of Jimy’s work to incorporate nonhydrostatic dynamics into the model.

Why nonhydrostatic? When Jimy arrived at Penn State, MM4 (and most contemporary weather models) were known as “hydrostatic” because they relied on a simplification. Such models assumed that the atmosphere is in hydrostatic equilibrium, meaning that the upward force in the atmosphere that is caused by the difference between higher pressure near the surface and lower pressure aloft is balanced by the downward force of gravity. Although this is a close approximation of atmospheric dynamics, nonhydrostatic modeling is more accurate because it incorporates processes, such as small-scale turbulence, convection, and various accelerations, that exist outside of hydrostatic equilibrium. Such modeling, which is becoming the standard in weather models, “allows you to have more detail,” Jimy explains.

Can he simulate what’s out there? Jimy, who came to NCAR in 1989, continues to refine MM5. He has added more parameterizations so the model can handle a larger number of scenarios (such as different types of cloud formation processes or various types of weather). He is also working on the next-generation model, known as the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. “There’s always a frontier,” Jimy says. “We don’t have a perfect model, and there’s work left to be done.” He enjoys the rigors of weather modeling. “The challenge is to see if your knowledge, programmed into a computer, can actually simulate what’s out there.”

Ground and air travels: Jimy took up running after arriving in Boulder. He’s a regular entrant in the annual Up-the-Hill Race, and he organizes a team for the Bolder Boulder 10K run. “I run just to keep fit,” he says. He also enjoys traveling, sometimes tacking on vacations to work trips. In the last year, he’s been to South Korea, Spain, and India. “One good thing about meteorology,” he says, “is you can pretty much go anywhere and someone is interested in the subject.” •David Hosansky


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Weather Research and Forecasting Model


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UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > April 2002 Search

Edited by David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Carlye Calvin
Last revised: Fri Apr 13 17:08:40 MST 2002