Michael Battalio

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, studying the development histories of Martian dust storms.  I finished my doctoral work in May 2017.  I have a Master of Science in Meteorology (GPA 4.0/4.0) from Mississippi State; my topic was "Quantitative Analysis and 3D Visualization of NWP Data Using Guasi-Geostrophic Equations". I have two undergraduate degrees: a BS in Physics (GPA: 3.97/4.0) in 2010 and a BS in Meteorology (GPA: 4.0/4.0) in 2009.  I also have minors in Mathematics, Communication and Music. 
Mars Atmosphere Research
I currently research the atmosphere of Mars with advisors Dr. Istvan Szunyogh and Dr. Mark Lemmon.  I am investigating local energetics of the Martian northern hemisphere using the eddy kinetic energy equation (See Orlanski, 1991).  I work primarily with the MACDA reanalysis dataset, which spans three Mars Years (MY) 24-27 (1999-2004).

Transient Waves During the MY 25 Global Dust Storm

A serendipitous feature of the MACDA dataset is that it contains a year (MY 25) that has a global dust storm.  The dust lifted during these events dramatically changes the dynamics of the atmosphere.  The dust warms the midlevels and cools the surface, which changes the vertical stability profile.  Baroclinic instability (middle panel of Fig. 1) is reduced (the red line is not as large in magnitude) so that synoptic-scale systems gain a barotropic component (Fig. 1 bottom).  Also, eddies maintain the same absolute strength but decrease in number (see in the top panel of Fig. 1 that the peaks of each of the three lines are about the same height, but the red line [MY 25] has about half the number). 

Fig. 1: Volume integrated Eddy Kinetic Energy (top), Baroclinic Energy Conversion (middle), and Barotropic Energy conversion (bottom) for MY 24 (blue), MY 25 (green), and MY 26 (blue). credit: Icarus 276 1-20

For more, see Energetics of the martian atmosphere using the Mars Analysis Correction Data Assimilation (MACDA) dataset.

Storm Tracks in the Southern Hemisphere of Mars

Because waves in the southern hemisphere are weaker due to topography and because there are no in situ observations of the southern hemisphere midlatidues (Curiosity is just barely in the Southern Hemisphere.), southern hemisphere waves are not nearly as studied as their northern counterparts.  My most recent project aims to change that by using the MACDA to carefully investigate the behavior of waves in the southern hemisphere. 

The figure below demonstrates some of that behavior.  While northern hemisphere waves frequently circumnavigate the planet, southern hemisphere waves are focused into two areas. On area is concentrated in the Hellas Basin around 60 E, and the second is just south of the Tharsis Plateau between 180 and 300 N (Fig. 2, top).  These waves are baroclinic in nature, evidenced by the collocation of baroclinic energy conversion (Fig. 2 middle) with the eddy kinetic energy (Fig. 2 top).  The waves seem to lose energy barotropically (Fig. 2 bottom) just as northern hemisphere waves do.

For more , see Wave energetics of the southern hemisphere of Mars.

Fig. 2: Pressure-averaged Eddy Kinetic Energy (top), Baroclinic Energy Conversion (middle), and Barotropic Energy conversion (bottom) averaged over southern hemisphere spring (MY 25, 26, 27) and autumn (MY 24, 25, 26).  Topography is contoured (dashed below mean geoid).
I have taught several labs and classes in both the physics and meteorology departments at MSU.  I will be teaching a freshman seminar in fall 2016 "A Tour of the Atmospheres in our Solar System."  I have assisted with Computer Applications in the Atmospheric Sciences (ATMO321) in fall 2014.  I have taught seven sections of Atmospheric Science Lab (ATMO 202) at Texas A&M and twice taught the Physical Science I lab (PH 1011) at MSU.  I have been substitute teacher for Atmospheric Dynamics I (GR 4823/6823).  I was the lab TA for Principles of GIS (GR 4303/6303) and the TA for the Forecasting Severe Local Storms (GR 4842/6842) at MSU.  Additionally, I was lab coordinator for the Teacher Academy for the Natural Sciences for summers 2010-2012 at MSU.
MAMO 2017 extended abstract Eddy Energetics of the Southern Hemisphere of Mars from the Mars Analysis Correction Data Assimilation (MACDA).
AGU 2016 Poster A Comparison of Martian Transient Wave Energetics in High and Low Optical Depth Environments
DPS 2016 slides from The Energetics of Transient Eddies in the Martian Northern Hemisphere
DPS 2015 slides from Reduced Baroclinicity During Martian Global Dust Storms
Poster for the Current Processes in the Atmosphere of Mars I session at the 2014 AGU conference.

QG Omega
Two publications involving my thesis ("Quantitative Analysis and 3D Visualization of NWP Data Using Quasi-Geostrophic Equations") are being developed: The Minimum Length Scale for Evaluating QG Omega Using High Resolution Model Data has been published in Monthly Weather Review and "Investigation of the Three-Dimensional Structure of the Level of Non-divergence." 

The quasi-geostrophic (QG) system of equations is a well studied aspect of synoptic-scale meteorology; however, I am investigating two unresolved questions.  At what horizontal scale lengths does QG omega no longer provide useful diagnostic information, and what if any methods can be used to extract synoptic-scale vertical motion from mesoscale models?  To answer both questions I calculate the QG omega equation on 28 cases from the operational North American Mesoscale (NAM) model. Modifying the distances between finite difference calculations all us to ascertain appropriate length scales to diagnose QG vertical forcing.  We find the appropriate length scale to be around 240 km by correlating QG omega back to vertical motion provided by the NAM.  This does agree with theory but is somewhat larger than studies on coarser datasets.  The code and data for the project with readme files are provided as a zip file.

AMS 2017 Poster The Minimum Horizontal Length Scale When Evaluating Quasi-Geostrophic Omega presents results from the recently published paper.

And an initial AMS poster,
Quantitative Analysis and 3D Visualization of NWP Data Using Guasi-Geostrophic Equations, was presented as part of the thesis work.

A NWA poster from 2011 looks at the Visualization of Divergence and Vorticity in Three Dimensions

Education and 3D Visualization

Education is an important subject to me, and I have been investigating the 3D patterns of divergence and vorticity in synoptic systems to aid in visualization in the classroom.  I am in the early stages of a manuscript that links features commonly used to deduce vertical motion using quasi-geostrophic, two-dimensional analysis to equivalent features in three-dimensional analysis.  Below is an example of what is possible with a 3D visualization package.  Pictured are the jet stream, vorticity, and vertical motion simultaneously.  Each of these fields is inherently three-dimensional, and so are excellent candidates for introduction to the classroom environment. 

Fig. 3: 3D contours of the jet stream (55 m/s in yellow, 75 m/s in orange), vorticity (0.0015 /s in green), and omega (-0.5 Pa/s colored by pressure with blue at 200 hPa and red at 900 hPa) on 1800 UTC 12 December 2010.

For more, see my poster at the National Weather Association Annual Meeting in October 2011.
Last updated:  May 23, 2018 | © 2003-2018 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)