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FROSTY BRRRIDGE RESEARCH
When you’re snug in your bed this winter, think
about Tina Greenfield, a graduate student in geological and
atmospheric sciences. Because when most of us are still asleep, Greenfield
is already working on her research.
Greenfield and co-researchers Brian Tentinger and Jose Alamo take turns
hitting the roads of Story County
to see whether or not frost has developed on three Highway 30 bridges.
Frost develops when two criteria occur – the bridge temperature
is below freezing and the dew point temperature is above the bridge temperature.
The student researchers use an infrared thermometer to quickly assess
the pavement’s temperature.
The research project is funded by a grant from the Iowa Department of
Transportation. The DOT was interested in the project because of potentially
hazardous conditions presented to a motorist coming up on a frosty bridge
at a high rate of speed.
“The DOT and others are very interested in helping us develop procedures
by which we can accurately predict roadway driving conditions in Iowa,”
said Gene Takle, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences. “From
these observations, we hopefully can develop computer models that will
tell us when frost will occur and how much will accumulate. If we are
able to develop a model that can predict 18 hours in advance whether frost
will occur, then the DOT can have the trucks ready to go.”
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