UCAR Communications


staff notes monthly

February 2004

Random Profile: Mark Tschudi

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Mark Tschudi, a project scientist in the Atmospheric Technology Division.

Going with the flow: Mark isn’t one to fight fate. “Looks like there’s no escaping the randomizer,” he said after he was informed that the random number generator selected him to be this issue’s profilee.

Mark is a project scientist in ATD. He came to NCAR as a visiting scientist in 2000 to oversee the Multichannel Cloud Radiometer (MCR), an instrument that typically sits on the wing of NCAR’s C-130 aircraft and scans down onto the clouds and surface below. This past summer he helped deploy the MCR on a Twin Otter than flew over marine clouds off the coast of Monterey, California.
“The idea is that you can use the MCR for a number of purposes,” Mark explains. “One application is that it can give investigators a feel for how clouds can be depicted in models.”

Melt pond research: The rest of Mark’s research is a far cry from Monterey. In addition to his work with the MCR, he does Arctic research. Right now he’s working on a grant from NASA to study melt ponds that form on top of sea ice near the north coast of Alaska. The open water in the ponds absorbs more sunlight and this in turn exacerbates the melting process. Mark and his colleagues are analyzing data to determine how much sea ice is covered with ponds during the melt season.

As part of the research, the team gathers data from the ground, satellites, and aerosondes. The latter are computer-controlled, unmanned aircraft that the researchers launch from the backs of speeding pick-up trucks. Although he’s logged more than 100 hours on research aircraft, Mark’s happy to stay on the ground and let the aerosondes take to the sky.

“I’m not really all that juiced up about flying on smaller planes,” he says.

A nontraditional student: A native of upstate New York, Mark moved to Colorado in 1972 to attend CU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and then worked for years as a computer programmer. When he was in his 40s, a friend in graduate school convinced him to return to school for a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

“The more I heard about what my friend was doing, the more interested I became in getting back into science,” he says. “I decided to make the big sacrifice and return to school, and I’m really glad I did.”

Mark is scheduled to return to Alaska this summer for more melt pond research. He hopes to get involved with the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) when the plane arrives at the Research Aviation Facility at Jefferson County Airport (Jeffco) this fall.

“I like where I’ve wound up at this point,” he says. “I find my work stimulating and challenging.”

Family time: Mark enjoys working at Jeffco, since it’s an easier commute from his family’s home in Thornton. Mark’s wife, Carlota, works for the Adams County school district. They have a 10-year-old daughter, Erin.

She’s my best buddy,” Mark says about Erin. “We have a lot of fun together.”

Fun includes movies, road trips, and a family trip to Monterey when Mark was deploying the MCR. Having lived in New Orleans for a few years, the family appreciates Colorado’s climate. And its relative calm.

“The first Mardi Gras was fun,” he recalls about New Orleans. “The second was okay. By the third we thought of leaving town.”

Midnight golf and midlife bowling: Mark plays on the Hail Raisers, NCAR’s softball team. He likes racquetball and cruises local trails on his mountain bike. He once played a round of midnight golf in Fairbanks, where he was based during an Arctic field project.

He also just started a bowling league. “It’s kind of scary,” he admits. “I think I was better when I was a kid.”

•Nicole Gordon

Also in this issue...

Hao Sunrise

Tom Windham soars to Washington

CG auditorium draws large crowds

Staffers organize women's self-protection class

Staffers win AMS awards

Short Takes

New insights into solar output

Honoring veteran staffers

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