Scientists in the Field

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The Tornado Scientist

By Mary Kay Carson | Photographs by Tom Uhlman

In this addition to the critically-acclaimed Scientist in the Field series, scientist Robin Tanamachi and her team are trying to save countless lives across America’s heartland, chasing one tornado at a time.

Robin Tanamachi has been captivated by tornadoes and extreme weather her entire life. When she realized people researched weather for a job, she was hooked. She now studies tornadogenesis, or how tornadoes form, and what causes them to get weaker versus strengthen. For her, driving around in a Doppler radar truck aiming towards storms is a normal day in the office. The data she collects is then modeled and studied on computers—with math, physics, and computer science working hand in hand with meteorology. At the end of the day, knowing exactly how, when, and where these violent storms happen can give more warning time for everyone involved.

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