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Kodi Nemunaitis-Monroe
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/ Categories: Weather, Women in Research

Kodi Nemunaitis-Monroe

From sky to summit to sea: tracking raindrops for water level forecasts

Kodi Nemunaitis-Monroe is a Sea Grant Weather and Climate Extension Agent at the NOAA-funded Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies and is affiliated with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. While her research background includes interactions between the land and atmosphere, she now oversees the Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) Project.CI-FLOW is a demonstration project that uses computer modeling tools to predict water levels within tidal watersheds in coastal North Carolina during tropical storms and hurricanes.

Watch a short NOAA Weather Partners YouTube video on CI-FLOW


Why does your research matter?


Coastal areas are especially vulnerable to flooding from hurricanes, tropical storms, and other hazardous weather. The effects of this extra water on waves, tides, river flows and storm surge have been unpredictable. My team is developing the Coastal and Inland-Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) prototype system to help emergency management officials and coastal residents make better informed decisions regarding coastal flooding.

CI-FLOW models the interaction between rainfall, river flows, waves, tides, and storm surge to predict a total water level for coastal North Carolina. Typically, these water level components are handled separately and it is up to operational forecasters to estimate their combined effects. We share data from our demonstration project with National Weather Service forecasters in North Carolina, who help evaluate the system for application in the forecast and warning process.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

"My team is developing the CI-FLOW prototype system to help emergency management officials and coastal residents make better informed decisions regarding coastal flooding."

I enjoy working with a diverse group of researchers whose expertise varies across the physical (meteorology, hydrology, engineering, etc.) and social sciences (sociology, education, etc.). In addition to the interdisciplinary nature of our project, our collaborators are located in operational and research settings in Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia.

Where do you do most of your work? In a lab? In field studies?

Most of my work is done in my office at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla.

What in your lab could you not live without?

I could not live without computers and the Internet. Computers are responsible for processing observed data and running weather and water models, while the Internet provides the means to transmit data between computers and make it available to end-users.

If you could invent any instrument to advance your research and cost were no object, what would it be? Why?

Clouds, trees, and waves make it difficult to differentiate between flooded and non-flooded areas. I would invent a satellite sensor that could accurately estimate the areal extent of inundation at high spatial and temporal resolutions during and immediately after a coastal storm.

When did you know you wanted to pursue science?

I was interested in the medical field until my senior year of high school when I realized I enjoyed physics much more than biology or chemistry. My love for physics and the weather in general led me to meteorology in college.

What’s at the top of your recommended reading list for someone wanting to explore a career in science?

I would recommend checking with a school or local librarian. However, The Weather Book: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the USA's Weather by Jack Williams seems to be one of the first books commonly read by young weather enthusiasts. 

And how about a personal favorite book?

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

What part of your job as a NOAA scientist did you least expect to be doing?

I least expected to interact with the media (print and television).

Do you have an outside hobby?

I grew up doing gymnastics, so I enjoy jumping (doing flips) on the trampoline in my backyard. I also enjoy spending time with my family and running.

What would you be doing if you had not become a scientist?

I would have become either a veterinarian or psychologist. I have always been an animal lover, dogs in particular. I am also fascinated with what drives human behavior.

Who is your favorite historical scientist and why?

My favorite historical scientist is Nicolaus Copernicus for his formulation of the heliocentric (or sun-centered) model of the solar system. At the time, the idea was controversial, but it initiated a scientific revolution.


Nemunaitis-Monroe holds a bachelor of science in meteorology/climatology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master of science in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. She is currently finishing a Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. NOAA logo.





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Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.


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