For my school’s ‘Career’s Day Out’ I chose to visit the University of Canterbury Geology Department in line with my passion of meteorology. The Head of Department, Associate Professor Peyman Zawar-Reza, referred me to some of his colleagues Justin Harrison and Dr Marwan Katurji, who showed me around their lab, equipment stores and computer modelling facilities.
First, Professor Katurji showed me around a room which held all of the current experiments and projects. One of these projects was a very high-tech polystyrene airplane which is to be flown in Antarctica in January 2015. It had a space for a tool which measures weather details like temperature and wind speeds, and it also had segments for many other small technical weather devices.
Next we constructed the weather balloon, which is the back-up for the plane. Although there were a set of instructions to follow, Professor Katurji remarked “we don’t use manuals; we figure it out by ourselves!”. After putting all of the spars in their spaces, we blew it up and it was HUGE!
During my time at the University, I also managed to get a sneak peek into the computer modelling facilities which were being used to create a new weather website and learnt about the El Nino and La Nina effects of weather. Just as I was leaving, Justin who manages meteorological instrumentation at the University, kindly gave me a surprise gift of a radiosonde (AIR AS-1A-PTH)!
Later when I researched deeper into it, I found that the rare type of radiosonde was released in the late 80s or early 90s and could be used in a weather balloon (like the one we made at the University) or dropped from an aircraft.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the University of Canterbury Geology Department and would like to thank Justin, Marwan and Professor Zawar-Reza for making my trip possible!