OLYMPEX Scientists in the Field: Joe Zagrodnik

Narration: Joe Zagrodnik


One of the storms washed out roads. We had to clear a mudslide with pick and shovels.

We were fording a river with water up to our knees as we were heading out to the sites.

So it was pretty intense.

I am a graduate student at the University of Washington and I’ve been working with the folks at NASA in the Olympic National Park to validate the GPM satellite observations.

The GPM satellite has the amazing advantage that it can measure precipitation everywhere.

But we need to know if the satellite measurements are accurate or not.

So we have this ground network of instruments set up.

At all the sites we have rain gauges so we know how much rain there is. We have disdrometers, which measure the individual raindrops themselves and tell us about the properties of the rainfall.

The weather here is very unique in that aspect in that we have all these different types of precipitation occurring in the same spot.

You have this light uniform rain, you have this heavy isolated intense rain, you have snow.

The goal of the ground instrumentation is to measure the changes in precipitation.

It’s constantly damp out here.

We’re measuring the rain but then the rain is falling on to our instruments.

We have a lot of electronics and the water likes to try and drip into them. So we’ve had a lot of fun trying to keep things dry.

The challenge really is just to keep everything running as this weather just continues to come one storm after another.

It’s hard to get a break but it keeps it exciting.

The more I learn the more I appreciate how intricate the details of what goes on in these storms.