The Center for Atmospheric Sciences | » Sean R. Leavor

    • B.S., Physics, Washington & Jefferson College, 2015

    • B.S., Mathematics, Washington & Jefferson College, 2015

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  • Sean R. Leavor

    I am a fifth year Ph.D graduate student studying atmospheric science. I earned my B.S. in physics and mathematics from Washington & Jefferson College in 2015.

    Before coming to Hampton as a student, I spent two summers in the CREST Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) program. I helped to create a climatology for polar stratospheric clouds over the arctic and Antarctic and also made comparisons between versions 6.2 and 7.0a of the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) II data. Later, I used data from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite and the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model to track aerosols from volcanic eruptions. The launch of SAGE III in 2017 allowed it to be used as well to help in tracking aerosols from fires in British Columbia.

    My current project is to use SAGE III to calculate the size distribution of stratospheric aerosols. Sulfuric acid droplets make up the majority of stratospheric aerosols, and these particles can cause surface cooling, stratospheric warming, and are linked to the destruction of ozone, making it important to understand them. Large volcanic eruptions or fires can put significant amounts of sulfur dioxide that is eventually converted to sulfuric acid directly into the stratosphere, which can remain there for years.

    I am also involved in many of our weather balloon launches, which include radio and ozonesondes. The ozonesondes along with the department’s lidar are useful tools for validating measurements from satellite instruments like SAGE. Along with this, I am responsible for maintaining our Cimel sun photometer as well as our future Pandora spectrometer.