Leigh Orf




Welcome to my research page, which describes some of my current work. For latest somewhat informal information on my research, please check out my weblog. My general web page can be found at http://orf.cx

I am an Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the Geography Department of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. My research deals with the numerical simulation of supercell thunderstorms and thunderstorm outflows.

The goal of the supercell research is to better understand the fine-scale internal structure of the supercell, and more specifically, the process of tornado formation in supercells. We still really don't understand how tornadoes form, or why they form in one storm and not another. One way to approach the problem is to simulate a tornado-producing supercell thunderstorm and see what happens in the model. This is difficult for several reasons, one of which is that this requires enourmous computational resources. Even when we do get a tornado to form, figuring out what happened in the model is quite a challenge!

I am keeping a running journal of my latest research here. You might find some of my latest pictures and animations there.


Below is a snapshot from a video I put together called "Supercell on a Carousel" which explores the inner structure of a simulated supercell during a snapshot in time. The video itself is below.

Supercell on a Carousel video


Below is a snapshot from an animation of tornadogenesis. The blue tube is the tornado (volume rendered pressure deficit), the grey isosurface is the updraft, and the wind vectors represent storm-relative velocities. The bottom colored transparent surface is potential temperature perturbation, where blue is cold and red is warm.

Movie of tornadogenesis (MP4/Quicktime format)
Movie of tornadogenesis (MPEG format)