(May 14, 2018) -- Firat Testik, professor of civil and environmental engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a three-year, $430,581 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his work about the microphysics of rainfall. Testik will use the funding to better understand the fundamental dynamics of raindrops, which could lead to better rainfall estimations and climate modeling in the future.
The average person is used to seeing a weather forecast on television based on radar data, which is used to measure the amount of rainfall in any single area. The technology works by sending directional pulses of microwave radiation that bounce off the raindrops and send signals back indicating the amount of rainfall.
“There are uncertainties and errors associated with weather radar,” Testik said. “This system relies on an assumption of the size distribution of raindrops, which is currently impossible to accurately predict. Our goal is to be able to better understand the size distribution and velocity of falling raindrops under different environmental conditions.”
Additionally, radar assumes all drops fall from the sky at terminal speeds. In a previous research project, Testik created an observation tool that allowed him to see that raindrops fall at different velocities and can have vastly different shapes and sizes than those assumed in radar estimations, which can affect attempts to predict the intensity of rainfall.
“This is very fundamental research, so it can have a vast array of applications,” he said. “In addition to improving weather radar predictions, this knowledge can be utilized for telecommunications applications to prevent their signals from being disrupted. It could even be applied to understand soil erosion over time.”
The central focus of Testik’s work going forward will be to better understand the collisions between raindrops as they fall from the sky. He’s previously noted that especially large drops break apart before they reach the ground, but often times will swallow many other drops on their way down.
“The idea is to have a comprehensive understanding of the way the wind and turbulence of a storm affects the motion of these drops,” Testik said. “Our current technology is only giving us its best guess when it estimates rainfall. We can do better, and with this new wider knowledge we will do better.”
Testik joined UTSA in 2015. He is the director of the UTSA Flow Physics Laboratory, which focus on the study of a wide range of natural and man-made flow problems in coastal, oceanic, atmospheric and overland environments.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy invites everyone to its monthly lecture and stargazing event (weather permitting).Flawn Building (FLN 2.02.02) and Curtis Vaughn Jr. Observatory, 4th floor of Flawn Building, Main Campus
All UTSA students, faculty, staff, alums & families are invited to march as a unified community. Register here: bit.ly/2TYbHbR. Shuttles will be provided from the Main and Downtown Campuses.Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 MLK Dr., San Antonio
UTSA's John Nix invites the community to sing "Amazing Grace" and “We Shall Overcome” at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The intent of this nationwide effort is to honor Dr. King's legacy and to spread a sense of community in the United States.Locations throughout the United States
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos EcheverriaMain Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Cir. #120, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
The annual event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific. The Festival features two stages, a martial arts demonstration area, children’s hands on crafting area, anime activities, bonsai and ikebana displays, mahjong table and more.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.