When the University of Louisville and Clemson University clash in one of this year’s most anticipated college football games Saturday, two researchers at the schools won’t be feeling the same animosity toward their ACC rival. UofL assistant professor of physics Jian Du-Caines and Clemson atmospheric physics professor Jens Oberheide are working together on a research project funded by NASA. Du-Caines says the two have been friends since they met at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, in 2005 and began talking about doing a project together.
In 2014, Du-Caines won a highly competitive, 3-year $394,000 grant from NASA to study the variability of tides in the atmosphere between earth and space.
“We want to be able to better forecast weather in space,” Du-Caines says. “The variability of tides is a piece of the puzzle we have to solve to be able to accurately predict day to day weather in space.”
Du-Caines says forecasting weather in space is about as accurate as forecasting weather on earth 50 years ago.
As part of the study, Clemson’s Oberheide is analyzing satellite data to see if it validates the model UofL’s Du-Caines is using to understand the variability of tides (a kind of large-scale wave similar to the Jet Stream) in space. The research is important, according to Du-Caines, to more clearly predict when storms or bad weather above the earth’s atmosphere might impact GPS, power grids, suborbital flights or satellites.
Du-Caines says she and Oberheide are more concerned about their research than what will be happening on the football field.
“We just laugh about it,” Du-Caines says, “though I wish we (UofL) would have won last year!”