Friday, February 15, 2013

Building capacity in Africa

Zachary Flamig knew he wanted to be a meteorologist from the time that he was 8 years old. It was then that his hometown of Dallas got pounded by a massive hailstorm, one that showed the fury and the power of the "Nature of the Sky".  He got his B.S. and Masters degree here at OU, and decided to stay on and pursue a PhD, working under Drs. Yang Hong (of the WaTER Center) and J.J. Gourley. His research is to develop and fine-tune a high-resolution hydrologic model that can be used to predict flash-flood events both in the U.S. and abroad. The model can be calibrated and tested using historical flood data from previous decades.
Zac Flamig is a 2nd year PhD student in Meteorology.

Zac Flamig teaching classes this spring in Namibia and Rwanda.

Although his doctoral research is centered on U.S. applications, Zac has been called upon by NASA to help build human capacity for flood predictions in Africa. Agricultural populations in south-central Africa are extremely vulnerable to flooding events, because of both damage to food crops and inability to relocate to safer ground. Accurate flood prediction can save lives in both the near-term and longer term. Zac has taught hydrologic model courses in Kenya and Rwanda, and has assisted local personnel in validating models using GPS and ground measurements obtained by helicopter, boat, and on foot. In addition, he is helping Namibian scientists create their own base map to be utilized in flash-flood predictions.

Pictures of the Okavango River in north Namibia.

While at OU, Zac has been active in the amateur radio club (served as president for 3 years), is seeking to get his aviation license, and is an avid storm-chaser in a region of the country where storms can be hugely entertaining! His first big view of a tornado was in the Texas panhandle in 2007. Zac is careful to point out that skipping class to chase a storm is specifically against school policy. One wonders why such a policy would ever have to be stipulated in the first place...?....

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