Dr. Laura Hinkelman is a research scientist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean of the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. Meteorology from Penn State in 2003, where her dissertation research focused on shortwave (solar) radiative transfer through anisotropic clouds. She then spent four years at the NASA Langley Research Center working with satellite-based estimates of shortwave radiative fluxes at the surface of the Earth. Her research concerned the Earth's energy budget, long-term trends in surface insolation, and the effect of clouds on atmospheric radiative transfer.
Dr. Hinkelman arrived at the University of Washington in 2007. Her early projects focused on evaluating and improving a variety of measurements made from satellites, specifically cloud droplet size and concentration, wind speeds determined from observations of cloud motion, and the flux of solar energy reaching the ground. This included leading a project to retroactively improve the measurements that serve as the basis of the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, which, as the primary satellite record of worldwide cloud amount, has found application in many climate studies. More recently, her interests have shifted to applications of surface solar flux measurement data, including how insolation variability affects photovoltaic systems. She is excited to begin working on the use of satellite radiation data to improve the modeling of snowmelt in mountainous areas, since changes in the snowpack as a result of climate change will be important to energy production and the availability of drinking water (not to mention winter outdoor activities!) in the western United States.
Laura is a native of Rochester, New York, where snow was a regular part of life -- as of this writing (early February 2011), Rochester had received 92" of snow this winter -- and has missed winter snowfall since moving to more temperate areas. Her favorite non-work activities include cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, and contradancing.