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Student Spotlight

Amanda Plagge

Alumna Profile: Amanda Michael Plagge

Degree: Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Dissertation Title: Observational Studies of Scatterometer Ocean Vector Winds in the Presence of Dynamic Air-Sea Interactions

Advisor: Dr. Doug  Vandemark

Description of Research

My overall objectives are based on my interest in the way the Earth functions and the way that humans can affect and use these functions, specifically in regards to understanding climate change and providing new and better sources of power.  To this end, my research has focused on remote sensing of the coastal oceans, with two main goals: 1) to aid in renewable energy development efforts and 2) to better understand the Earth system and how it is changing.

Much of my research has been centered around satellite wind measurements by scatterometer. A scatterometer is an active Ku-band radar that measures backscatter brightness over the ocean. Wind speed and direction can then be retrieved from this measure of roughness. The current U.S. scatterometer is called QuikSCAT, and publicly-available wind products range from gridded data at 25 km to a new 12.5 km swath product. I have been working to evaluate a new 2.5 km ultra-high resolution (UHR) QuikSCAT product (created by David Long at Brigham Young University) in the coastal region. An on-going focus of research has been comparing these satellite products to buoy wind speeds and directions in the main research area, the Gulf of Maine. Especially in coastal regions, the apparent wind vectors from the satellite measurements may not accurately represent winds present. There is significant interest in using satellite data to improve our understanding of near-shore processes that involve ocean-atmosphere and land-ocean coupling; these dynamics make weather prediction and other operational and scientific applications very difficult. The next step in my work will be to investigate air-sea interactions in more detail, using both satellite and in situ data. Ultimately, I hope to use my research to aid in the siting and monitoring of offshore wind farms.

My PhD work was funded for the first two years by a graduate fellowship from the Research and Discover Program, and I currently hold a NH Space Grant Fellowship.

Previous Awards and Activities:
Selected Presentations and Publications