Environmental Biology major and five-time JPL intern Ann Bui has won an environmental fellowship at her college that will combine her rainfall research at JPL with her interest in vulnerable ecosystems.
What is the fellowship? What will you study?
Bui: In early August, I applied for the Ernest Prete, Jr. Student Environmental Research Fellowship Program that was offered at my school, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. I asked a professor at school, Lin Wu, to be my mentor and she gave me the idea to look at the Salton Sea in California. I decided to combine my background in researching California rainfall and the vulnerable ecosystem at the Salton Sea. My new project is to study how rainfall affects the Salton Sea and its surrounding environment, including fishery, birds and plants. I was awarded a partial scholarship.
What did you do as an intern at JPL?
I was in NASA's Space Grant program this summer and I continued to work on precipitation analysis from last summer. Another JPL intern, Dan Killam, and I did a two-year in-depth analysis of more than 80 years of daily rain and temperature data from weather stations from all over California. Some of our preliminary results are:
-- We found no significant evidence of a long-term trend in statewide rainfall, or in extreme rain events, during the 20th century.
-- We did observe and quantify a large natural variability in precipitation associated with Pacific-wide ocean cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. These cycles affect different regions of California in unique ways.
-- At many weather station sites, the rain is coming later and ending earlier, a contraction of the rainy season.
-- The data also show that in southern and central California the amount of rainfall per day is increasing. There is a general trend toward less drizzle (less than half an inch a day) and more days of consistent, moderate rainfall (more than half an inch a day) in many stations statewide, especially southern and central California. It is raining harder now than 80 years ago.
Bui first came to JPL as part of the Student Independent Research Intern program. She then participated in Space Grant for two summers and two semesters in college. She graduates in Spring 2011 and will work on the fellowship throughout her senior year.
To learn more about all internships at JPL, go to http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/internships/ .