Green Lab Spotlight: Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group

Author: Dana Bakirtjy


The Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group researches transport phenomena in order to understand and model atmospheric, oceanic, and industrial fluid processes. We met with Dr. Harindra Joseph S. Fernando, the Wayne and Diana Murdy Family Professor of Engineering, to learn more about the types of projects the group works on and how they are related to sustainability.

One of the group’s projects, called “The Matterhorn,” seeks to improve weather predictions in mountainous areas. The group developed flying technology, a radar system, and an aerosol sampling technique to take sophisticated measurements in the field in conjunction with other universities and the Navy. Another project, entitled ASIRI, researched air-sea interactions in the Indian Ocean. They focus is on monsoons, how they transport water, and how they can be modeled and predicted. Monsoons are influenced by climate change, and understanding their dynamics is crucial for the future of affected regions.

A third project that the group worked on is the Chicago Urban Heat Island Project. City microclimates often feel hotter than those in surrounding areas. The lab, in partnership with DePaul University, used a “nest down” process from a global model to a smaller monitoring area in order to predict patterns of heat change. Some of the questions they included were what the heat island will be in 2081, how will rainfall and snow change, and what kinds of trees Chicago should plant.

Dr. Fernando explained that his lab provides “information that can be used by policy-makers,” which makes the current best science in his field available for wider applications. It will be interesting to see what the data reported by the lab’s current monitoring systems will show in the future!