Under Pressure: Atmospheric Scientist Rodrigo Bombardi Joins Real Scientists

Up next on RealScientists: Rodrigo Bombardi (@Dr_Monsoon), who is an atmospheric researcher (postdoc) at the Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences, George Mason University. Rodrigo’s work is focused on improving the representation of monsoons in a climate model. We asked Rodrigo our usual set of questions, you can find his responses below. For more information about Rodrigo and his work, check out his website.

RodrigoBombardiI always had a fascination for science and science fiction. I remember that even as a child I already imagined myself going to college, since my hometown is home of one of the best universities in Brazil. The path of science was not easy for the, though. My family had serious financial problems when I was a teenager and that resulted in a challenge for me to even attend college. Fortunately, I had the help of a wonderful social program in my hometown that helped me to attend college and I also had the ideal adviser during my Master and my PhD programs. Hopefully I can talk more about these issues this week.

To be honest, I ended up in this field a little bit by chance. In Brazil, you have to decide your major before applying to college. When I applied to college I applied to physics. But my perception of physics in college was that researchers were mostly concerned of studying the infinitely small realm of particles or the infinitely large realm of the cosmos. However, there was another major in that set of disciplines that was Meteorology, which is pretty much physics applied to the atmosphere. I fell in love with atmospheric sciences and it has brought me wonderful opportunities.

My work has been focused on monsoons – the classic idea of monsoon is the Indian monsoon, where you have a wet summer and a dry winter, with a reversal of the surface wind between summer (ocean to land) and winter (land to ocean). But monsoons can be loosely defined as the rainy season in mostly all tropical regions of the planet. Currently I work trying to improve the representation of monsoons in a climate model. I work with an American model that is also one of the many models that are used for climate change projections. More specifically, I try to improve the way this model simulates cumulus and cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds.

More than half of the world’s population live under monsoonal regions. Monsoons have a direct impact on agriculture (global food security), health (floods / landslides / water born diseases), energy generation (hydropower), and the global economy. My research in particular has been focused on improving the representation of monsoons in climate models and improving the forecast of monsoons by climate models.

Hopefully, by improving the monsoon forecasts we can also improve other aspects of weather and climate prediction, which can impact the lay public’s lives from whether or not one should drive to work tomorrow to what actions should we take now to minimize the future impact of climate change.

Research is my only obligation. But I have organized an outreach event called Earth Day Lightning Talks at George Mason University. It consists of a series of 3-min presentation from faculty, staff, and graduate students on their research related to Earth Sciences. You can find videos from the event here.
We had the first event in 2015 and I will continue to organize it every year for as long as I can in the future.

In my free time, I practice Aikido. I define Aikido as the most polite of the martial arts. It is the art of defending oneself without harming one’s attacker. Aikido is often translated as “the way of harmony” and it has a philosophy of avoiding confrontation. In the fields of ideas, however, I believe (polite) confrontation is necessary and it is the only way forward.

I love the ocean. So my ideal day would consist of a warm beach, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and reading a book on the sand, that would be awesome. Realistically, I enjoy going out for a dinner and a movie with my wife. I also play videogames.


Please welcome Rodrigo to RealScientists!


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