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Dr. Bradley Baker is a Principal Investigator at SPEC Incorporated

Dr. Baker is an expert in cloud physics with decades of experience in cloud physics and airborne, as well as radar, measurements of clouds. 

He earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of Washington (UW) graduating with distinction (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1982.  Two years later, he entered the graduate program in Geophysics at UW and earned his Ph.D. under Prof. Marcia Baker in 1990.  While a graduate student, he participated in his first, of what would become many, cloud physics research field projects, flying on the UW Convair research aircraft with Prof. Peter Hobbs and Art Rangno.  The focus of that project was exploring the association of rapid ice formation with the presence of super-cooled large drops in cumulus clouds, an enigma that is central to the research that will be conducted during this 4th cycle field campaign.  Dr. Baker published four peer reviewed research articles based on his graduate work, including two on the subject of the aforementioned field project, and a seminal paper on thunderstorm electrification based on laboratory studies performed at the University of Manchester Institute of Technology, where he spent a year collaborating with the cloud physics research group led by Prof. John Latham.

After earning his Ph.D., Dr. Baker was invited to participate in the Advanced Study Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), furthering his research on turbulence and the microphysical properties of clouds.  Following the two-year program at NCAR, Dr. Baker accepted a position as Assistant Professor at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where he taught courses in physics and atmospheric science.

In 1998, Dr. Baker joined SPEC Incorporated where he directed the company’s participation in several international field campaigns, ranging from investigations of climate change in the Arctic in 1998, to the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) project in the Caribbean Sea in 2004 – 2005.  He published four peer reviewed articles related to RICO, including one on the fundamentals of radar measurements and their comparison with aircraft in-situ measurements.

In 2012, Dr. Baker returned to teaching, becoming a Lecturer on Radar Meteorology at the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology until 2016.  Dr. Baker returned to working on SPEC projects in 2018, as an independent contractor, transitioning to the position of Senior Scientist at SPEC in 2020.  Dr. Baker’s 30 years of experience in cloud physics and airborne measurements of cumulus clouds are valuable assets that will be applied to UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science.

Project Brief:

“Improving the chemical and physical properties of seeding materials through electric charges”

SPEC Incorporated will partner with two other 2nd Cycle Award winners, the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and the University of Reading, to build on results from previous studies in the UAE.  The project will incorporate sophisticated numerical simulations of cumulus clouds with measurements using the SPEC Incorporated Learjet research aircraft in concert with the NCM King Air cloud seeding aircraft. FMI will simulate the effects of cloud seeding using hygroscopic nanomaterials previously developed at Khalifa University in the UAE.  The University of Reading has developed miniature electric charge generators that will be attached to the King Air seeding aircraft. The charge generators have been shown to coagulate aerosol particles below cloud base into a size range that may enhance the effects of the hygroscopic nanomaterial seeding agents. FMI will run their numerical simulations of clouds with and without the nanomaterial seeding agent and the effects of the electric charge generators. The SPEC Learjet will make measurements in clouds with and without the nanomaterial seeding agent and electric charge generators. The measurements will be compared with the FMI numerical simulations.

The overall goal of this project is to determine if the effects of the nanomaterial seeding agent and electric charge generators will stimulate a secondary ice process (SIP) that may potentially lead to rain enhancement. Previous observations indicate that the SIP occurs naturally in tropical cumulus clouds where cloud base temperatures are generally warmer than 20°C.  The relatively warm cloud base temperatures result in ~ 3 km of cloud below the 0°C level, which produces an active coalescence process and development of millimeter-diameter drops at the 0°C level. Previous measurements suggest that the millimeter-diameter drops rise in an updraft, freeze and fracture, producing copious small ice particles that “seed” the cloud. Cumulus cloud base temperatures in the UAE are much colder, typically about 10°C. This results in about 1.5 km of cloud below the 0°C level, which is insufficient to naturally produce adequate concentrations of millimeter-diameter drops at the 0°C level and the natural SIP. This project will investigate the potential for the nanomaterial seeding agent and electric charge generators to stimulate the coalescence process and natural SIP that may lead to rain enhancement.