While many come to OU in search of severe weather, a new faculty member has just arrived at the School of Meteorology with his eyes set on the Arctic. During recent years, Arctic sea ice has been melting at an increasing rate over the Arctic, and 2011 set a record for the second lowest recorded sea ice extent. So what does this mean for weather forecasts? Cavallo is looking to answer this question, which stems from his doctoral dissertation work at the University of Washington in Seattle. His research began by examining upper level cyclones over the Arctic, which play an important role in forming low pressure systems in the middle latitudes, including Oklahoma. He is now gathering increasing evidence that Arctic sea ice could be an important ingredient in maintaining upper level Arctic cyclones. This would in turn affect the formation and tracks of surface low pressure systems both in the Arctic and in the middle latitudes.
Dr. Cavallo joins the faculty of the School of Meteorology after a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, CO. He was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellowship in polar regions research, where he used NCAR's advanced supercomputing facilities to study Arctic weather and climate using high resolution numerical modeling techniques. In addition to polar research, Dr. Cavallo studied tropical weather at NCAR, where he, along with colleagues, implemented a real-time ensemble data assimilation and high resolution forecasting system. This forecasting system has subsequently become semi-operational at the National Hurricane Center, meaning forecasters can use the output from the model to aide in their forecasts. Aside from Arctic and tropical interests, Cavallo is interested in model development, where at NCAR he was active in developing ways to better understand model errors. Some of the improvements found have been implemented in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, which is a widely used community research and forecasting tool.
Originally from just outside of Atlanta, GA, Cavallo's interests in meteorology originated from his early childhood, where occasional severe weather and 'snow storms' piqued his interests. On the first day of school in first grade, Cavallo recalls the teacher asking "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The question was quickly followed by the response of "I want to be a weatherman." Although the term 'weatherman' may not most precisely describe his career today, he believes that it was this focus and determination stemming from early childhood that helped him get to the place he is today.
Outside of work, Cavallo enjoys running, bicycling, hiking, weight lifting, and traveling. While in Colorado, his running activities increased substantially, where he ran numerous races, including a marathon. He is an early bird, so you may see him running out on the streets of Norman before sunrise or you may even catch him in the early mornings at the Huff.