Engineer finds internal waves to explain variables in weather forecasting

Have you ever woken up to a sunny forecast only to get soaked on your way to the office? On days like that it's easy to blame the weatherman.

But BYU mechanical engineering professor Julie Crockett doesn't get mad at meteorologists. She understands something few people know: it's not the weatherman's fault he's wrong so often.

According to Crockett, forecasters make mistakes because the models they use for predicting weather can't accurately track highly influential elements called internal waves.

Atmospheric internal waves are waves that propagate between layers of low-density and high-density air. Although hard to describe, almost everyone has seen or felt these waves. Cloud patterns made up of repeating lines are the result of internal waves, and airplane turbulence happens when internal waves run into each other and break.

One such example may have happened in 2011, when Utah meteorologists predicted an enormous winter storm prior to Thanksgiving. Schools throughout the state cancelled classes and sent people home early -- then nothing happened. Though it's impossible to say for sure, internal waves may have been driving stronger circulations, breaking up the storm and causing it to never materialize.

Internal waves also exist in oceans between layers of low-density and high-density water. These waves, often visible from space, affect the general circulation of the ocean and phenomena like the gulf stream and jet stream.

Both oceanic and atmospheric internal waves carry a significant amount of energy that can alter climates.

Crockett's latest wave research, which appears in a recent issue of the International Journal of Geophysics, details how the relationship between large-scale and small-scale internal waves influences the altitude where wave energy is ultimately deposited.

To track wave energy, Crockett and her students generate waves in a tank in her lab and study every aspect of their behavior. She and her colleagues are trying to pinpoint exactly how climate changes affect waves and how those waves then affect weather.

Based on this, Crockett can then develop a better linear wave model with both 3D and 2D modeling that will allow forecasters to improve their weather forecasting.

Coming up ...


WINTER 2013 CAREER & INTERNSHIP FAIR: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom. About 100 companies are registered to recruit during the January Career Fair. To help you get ready: research the companies, polish your resume and hone your networking skills. Check out the University Career Services website ( This event is free.


UTAH AND THE CIVIL WAR: 2 p.m.; Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium on Level 1. The Harold B. Lee Library will host its first House of Learning lecture of the winter semester, "Utah and the Civil War," by Kenneth L. Alford, associate professor in the Church History department at Brigham Young University. Professor Alford has served as an active Army duty officer for 29 years, and he taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point and at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Alford specializes in the American Civil War and Latter-day Saint involvement in military conflicts. His latest book is "Civil War Saints." For more information, contact Heather Scott, (801) 422-1848, This event is free.


Study shows Facebook can cause disconnectedness

A 2012 study conducted at Utah Valley University found a connection between Facebook users and their attitudes toward their coworkers and job experiences -- the more people use Facebook, the less likely they are to have strong relationships with coworkers and feel satisfied with their work.

Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Ron Hammond, professors in the department of behavioral science at UVU, surveyed 516 employed undergraduate students at UVU on their Facebook use and their attitudes toward their jobs. The responses were drawn from a randomized pool of 8,000 students. Those surveyed were asked to rate their relationships with their coworkers, their attitudes toward their jobs and whether they were thinking about changing jobs. They were then asked how many years they had been using Facebook, how many hours they spent there per week, how often they updated their Facebook status, how many Facebook friends they had, and how many coworkers they had on Facebook.

Using multiple regression analyses, the study found that those who constantly updated Facebook, spent longer hours there or had more Facebook friends did not appear to have better relationships at work. Those with more Facebook friends were less likely to care about their work performance, and those who updated Facebook more frequently liked their jobs less and were more likely to think about changing jobs.

By contrast, those surveyed who spent more time with friends offline were more likely to enjoy their current jobs and less likely to think about changing.

"We were not able to discern from this study if people with poor workplace skills and attitudes are more drawn to Facebook, or if they are more likely to be pushed to Facebook because of their dissatisfaction with work," Hammond said.

Hammond stressed that, while this study was as academically rigorous as possible, Facebook is a difficult field for social research.

In the case of this study, Hammond said the findings showed that Facebook does not fill social gaps in the lives of its users. Rather, it serves to augment the skills and relationships users already possess.

Coming up ...


BREATHE: SUICIDE LOSS SUPPORT GROUP: 6 to 8 p.m.; Sorensen Student Center room 222. Breathe is a support group for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, directed by Wade Haskell, a UVU biology student who lost his mother to suicide in July 2011. We have a monthly support group meeting on the last Tuesday of each month. We meet in the Student Health Services Department on the second floor of the Sorensen Student Center, at the north end of the hall. If you have lost someone to suicide, please come and join our amazing family, full of people who "get it." For more information, like us on Facebook or email Wade Haskell at


OPPORTUNITY QUEST: CROWD PITCH: Noon to 1 p.m.; Centre Stage, Sorensen Student Center. Hear some startup idea pitches, and then vote for your favorite startup team using your own smartphone. Winners of the OQ 2013 will be announced online at on Friday.


GLOBAL BUSINESS ETHICS DISCUSSION: 10 a.m.; UVU Library auditorium, room 120. Lynn Fausett, an author and UVU alumnus, will present a discussion about issues of global business ethics within the African diamond industry titled, "Two Faces of Greed: Conflict Diamonds."The presentation is presented by the UVU Center for the Study of Ethics and is free and open to the public.

MENTAL HEALTH SYMPOSIUM: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sorensen Student Center. UVU's 4th annual Mental Health Symposium, presented by the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, will be Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and focus on issues surrounding depression. Kris Doty, a UVU assistant professor of psychology and director of the university's social work field education, will be the symposium's keynote speaker. Doty will present some of her last research on Mormon women diagnosed with depression. The cost to register for this event is $19, and includes lunch. To register, visit Parking will be available in the Lakeside Visitor Parking Lot, located just past the main campus entrance roundabout near the Woodbury Business and Browning Administration buildings.