Christopher Cox (left) and Dan Wolfe (center) of NOAA/ESRL & CIRES, and Matt Winterkorn of NOAA/NBDC prepare to depart Hawaii aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown. They will release radiosondes for the El Niño Rapid Response field campaign during a NOAA TAO survey cruise in the Pacific. (Credit: Ryan Spackman, STC & NOAA)

Meet the Ronald H. Brown ENRR crew

February 16, 2016

Dan Wolfe is a research scientist with NOAA/ESRL out of Boulder and has worked for NOAA for over 40 years, first as a “Fed” and now as an affiliate through CIRES. He has launched weather balloons all over the world, beginning while in the Coast Guard back in the early 1970’s, from land and sea. Dan has lost track of the number of launches and how many times he has been to sea. His nickname on the ship, “Balloon Man,” gives you some idea of his history. Besides launching balloons, Dan supports the Air-Sea Flux program with the Physical Science Division (PSD) within NOAA/ESRL and serves as the science coordinator for the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory. Dan is excited to be a part of the ENRR project despite the early struggles with logistics while preparing for deployment. He’d like to thank the many unsung folks back in Boulder — Tina, Babs, and Sergio — who are not in the spotlight but were critical to the success of this project and will be called upon again as the project winds down. Is this his last cruise? We’ll see, as something new, interesting, and challenging seems to regularly come along.

Chris Cox is a CIRES research scientist with PSD, and one of the new, up-and-coming scientists we greatly need. Though this is his first time at sea, he has experience launching weather balloons at a field station at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet! Indeed, Chris’ research is mostly Arctic-centric, focusing in particular on understanding how clouds and the atmosphere modulate melting or refreezing of ice and snow. So this campaign in the tropics is quite a change! The challenges associated with operating a radiosonde program are very different. There won’t be any launches at -80oF during the ship campaign, but conducting operations from a station in constant motion and with limited space, presents its own set of challenges that must be met with careful planning. Chris is very excited to be contributing to this important work and the collection of a data set that will be of great use to the research and forecasting communities for years to come.

Matt Winterkorn is a welcome addition to the launch crew — or the “Balloonatics,” as a nightshift electronic technician has dubbed us. Matt is based out of Stennis Space Center, MS as a contractor with NVision Solutions, Inc. for NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). He’s also a young enthusiastic scientist on his first extended ocean cruise, an opportunity he’s been waiting for. With a degree in meteorology from the State University of New York at Oswego, he too has experience with balloon launches. His day job is to quality control oceanographic and meteorological data from the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) buoy array, and his knowledge is key as we plan for launches around TAO operations. Matt is excited to contribute to the El Niño Rapid Response project and feels fortunate to have such a great team here on the Ronald H. Brown.