Michael J. Herman

Contact Information

Physics Department and Geophysical Research Center
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801
mherman at nmt dot edu


I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Physics Department at New Mexico Tech. Currently, I am studying convectively-coupled waves using wave-filtering techniques in order to isolate physical mechanisms thought to drive these waves. I also investigate theoretical aspects of tropical convection using cloud-resolving models and large-scale parameterization techniques such as the weak temperature gradient approximation.



My wife Saška studies tropical cyclogenesis.

My advisor is David Raymond.

An article on the climate change positions of candidates for the 2016 presidential race.

Field Project Data Catalogs

Tropical Cyclone Structure 2008 (TCS-08) data catalog. The project data is here.

An East Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) data catalog superimposed onto GOES infrared maps and onto FNL vorticity maps. The project data is here.

Tropical convectively coupled waves

Here are animations of wave-filtered outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) depicting the behavior of convection associated with tropical wave activity in the atmosphere. The animations are synchronized and illustrate the propagation of tropical convective phenomena occurring in the wavenumber-frequency spectrum associated with the Madden-Julain oscillation (top), convectively-coupled Kelvin waves (middle), and equatorial Rossby waves (bottom). Yellow areas indicate propagating zones of suppressed convection and blue areas indicate enhanced convection.

Mechanisms of interaction between propagating waves and tropical convection are the subject of much debate in current scientific literature on the tropical atmosphere. Observing individual waves in the real atmosphere is difficult and therefore much of the research on these waves takes a theoretical or modeling approach. One of the reasons why it is difficult to study such waves in the real atmosphere is that different wave species occur simultaneously and therefore continuosly interfere, as this animation shows. The wave-filtering technique is a modified form of that introduced by Wheeler and Kiladis (1999) and the animation is based on a similar presentation on Matthew Wheeler's site.

Movie of wave species in filtered OLR.

A time series of OLR plotted over a span of longitude further illustrates the difficulty of studying these waves. The wave species can be seen as sloped contours in the figure below. Eastward propagating Kelvin waves (color-filled black contours) and the MJO envelope (red and blue contours) slope down toward the East while the Westward propagating Rossby waves (unfilled black contours) slope down toward the West. A vertical line represents the longitudinal position of the Ronald H. Brown research vessel stationed in the East Pacific ocean during the TEPPS field project in August, 1997. Note that on August 19th (indicated by a dotted horizontal line), the active phase of a strong Kelvin wave passed over the vessel, as illustrated by the blue shading. This observation is important in the study of tropical waves due to the lucky passage of a Kelvin wave through the research area of a field project. Note, however, that the suppressed phase of a fairly strong Rossy wave is also passing over the ship, as indicated by the Eastward sloping black contour. The ubiquitous collocation of two or more wave species makes it challenging to tease apart their respective individual characteristics. In turn, it is difficult to then understand the causal mechanisms that allow the waves to persist.

A soup of wave species during the TEPPS project.

Academic Work

This is mostly undergraduate work and some is a little rough around the edges.

A term paper How does a Tropical Squall Line Work?. This is from Atmospheric Convection, PHYS 536, taught by Dr. Raymond.

A term paper Simulated Annealing & the Metropolis Algorithm: A Parameter Search Method for Models of Arbitrary Complexity, describing the use of simulated annealing and the metropolis algorithm to bring two atmospheric single-column models into identical states of radiative-convective equilibrium. This is from Inverse Problems, MATH 519, taught by Dr. Makhnin and Dr. Richard Aster. Simulated annealing movie.

A term paper: The Copenhagen Interpretation: A struggle to relate observation to the mathematical representation of quantum mechanics. This is from Quantum Mechanics, PHYS 515, taught by Dr. Sessions.

A term paper: Environmental conditions leading to spinup and intensification during the 2008 West Pacific tropical cyclone season. This is from Problems in Atmospheric Physics, PHYS 433, taught by Dr. Raymond.

A term paper: How the planetary atmosphere maintains disorder under the net loss of entropy: A multi-level primer that seeks to minimize complexity while elaborating entropy. This is from Statistical Mechanics, PHYS 408, taught by Dr. Sessions.

A term paper, Comparison of ACE-FTS and AIRS Temperature Profiles. This is from Atmospheric Remote Sensing, PHYS 532, taught by Dr. Minschwaner.

A short story, Ψ Noodles in Hilbert Sauce, about the Copenhagen interpretation of the quantum mechanical wavefunction, featuring ramen, eigenspiders, and Sally, an inquisitive little sister. This is from Quantum Mechanics, PHYS 515, taught by Dr. Sessions. There was a hand-drawn illustration on the hard-copy, which is now lost.

A report, SEBs Vortex Analysis using the EPIC General Circulation Model, summarizing my summer research as a sophomore working with Dr. Raul Morales-Juberias. We were investigating interactions between vortices on Jupiter using the Explicit Planetary Isentropic Coordinate model.

Notes on tensor notation in html and pdf forms.

Notes on bessel functions in pdf form. This is a modified, corrected and improved version of a document I originally wrote to assist in solving problems in cyclindrical coordinates from Classical Electrodynamics, by J. D. Jackson. My E+M professor, Dr. Paul Arendt, provided the modifications from the original.

An abstract summarizing my results when repeating the Cavendish experiment to estimate the gravitational constant. This is from Senior Laboratory, PHYS 451, taught by Dr. Minschwaner.

Personal Interests

Arch Information

LaTeX Information


Animation of Hurricane Irene


How to Make Macedonian Easter Eggs