About the Nebraska Lectures

The Office of Research and Economic Development partners with the Office of the Chancellor and the Research Council, in collaboration with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, to sponsor the Nebraska Lectures: the Chancellor’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Typically offered once a semester, the Nebraska Lectures bring together the university community with the greater community in Lincoln and beyond to celebrate the intellectual life of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by showcasing the faculty’s excellence in research and creative activity.

The topics of these free lectures reflect the diversity of faculty accomplishments in the arts, humanities, social sciences and physical sciences. For more than 10 years, this forum has crossed academic boundaries to build morale and a sense of common identity, allowing some of the great minds on the UNL faculty to share notable discoveries in a non-technical format, fostering a collective passion for education and research, and spurring the imaginations of those who share the need to know more. Read more about how lecturers are selected at the Research Council website.

Can Drones Improve Weather Forecasts?

Adam Houston

Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Live, in-person lecture, April 2, 2024, 3:30 p.m., Swanson Auditorium, Nebraska Union

In the last two decades, tornadoes in the U.S. have been responsible for more than 1,600 deaths, over 23,000 injuries and nearly $31B in damage. No other thunderstorm-related hazard impacts humans so severely. While identification of the large-scale conditions that support tornado formation has improved, false alarm rates have been virtually unchanged in two decades. Operational numerical weather prediction (the use of computer models to guide manual forecasts) is nearly to the point where model output can provide direct guidance for the issuance of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings, an effort broadly referred to as warn-on forecasting. However, forecast skill at such high resolution is limited by poor resolution of the current of meteorological surveillance network. Drones have the potential to modernize the observation network and realize the promise of warn-on forecasting. Whether or not the general public has an appetite for such modernization is unknown.

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