Alain Caya. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)
Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Alain Caya, a project scientist in IMAGe.
"I think I'm addicted to data assimilation," Alain says. At least he has the right job to feed his addiction. Alain is a project scientist in IMAGe, a new institute formed during the NCAR reorganization, where he works on the Data Assimilation Initiative.
Data assimilation is important for numerical weather forecasting. It involves combining diverse observations, possibly sampled at different times and intervals in multiple locations, into a unified description of the state of the atmosphere.
"We're interested in data assimilation in general, but I'm mostly interested in radar data assimilation," Alain specifies. He takes observations from radars and other instruments and incorporates them into numerical weather prediction models to make short-term forecasts.
The route to NCAR
Alain did his doctoral thesis on radar data assimilation at McGill University in Montreal. After completing the degree, he came to NCAR as a postdoc researcher in 2001.
He's always liked physics, math, and algorithms, and he especially enjoys working on computers. "There's also some contact with reality since we use real-world observations," he says.
Despite his addiction to data assimilation, Alain finds time to play on a softball team in Boulder. He likes to play pool, too, in his spare time.
Alain grew up in Amos, a small town in Quebec about 400 miles northwest of Montreal, not far from the border with Ontario. He and his wife, Isabelle, speak French at home and go back to Quebec about twice a year to visit parents and friends. When they go, they drive the entire way, a 1,900-mile trip that takes several days and passes through a decent chunk of North America.
Having taken different routes to Quebec over the years, they've decided that their favorite is to head through Michigan's Upper Peninsula into Ontario, crossing above Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
Vehicle-free in Boulder
There's a reason why Alain chooses to drive all the way home. "I don't have a car, but I like to drive," he explains. "So when I have one, I drive it a lot."
Alain lives in Boulder and gets around town by bike and public transportation. He says he finds it more convenient to not own a car, especially since he lives close to his office in Foothills Lab. The Front Range's sunny weather is a plus. "Boulder has a very nice climate," he says.
• by Nicole Gordon
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GLOBE in Thailand
the full story
FL0 construction issues
Just One Look
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