N.M. Tech professor Paul Krehbiel honored

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The American Geophysical Union, or AGU, has announced its 2013 Fellows inductees. Included among this year’s honorees is New Mexico Tech professor Dr. Paul Krehbiel, physics professor and co-developer of the Lightning Mapping Array.

Paul Krehbiel

This honor is given to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and attained acknowledged eminence in the fields of earth and space science. AGU’s Fellows program was established in 1962. This designation is conferred upon not more than 0.1 per cent of all AGU members in any given year.

Established in 1919, the AGU is an international nonprofit scientific association with more than 61,000 members.

This year, 62 individuals have been elected as 2013 Fellows. Krehbiel is the only inductee from New Mexico. They will be recognized at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, which will take place in San Francisco this December.

“This is not an honor in isolation,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help from all the mentors, colleagues and students I’ve worked with through the years.

“One of our big successes has been the Lightning Mapping Array. It has taken off in a big way in the last 15 years or so.”

His work maps lightning activity inside storms using radio frequency measurements.

“Mapping lightning is highly useful in determining when a storm is intensifying,” he said. “Lightning is a symptom that the storm is becoming more severe.”

Lightning mapping complements radar in nowcasting real-time weather forecasts that allow meteorologists to warn the public of severe storm hazards as they develop.

“We often see signatures in lightning data of tornadoes,” he said.

Krehbiel feels honored to have received the Fellows award, but he isn’t looking forward to the ceremony.

“It’s a definite honor,” he said. “There will be a ceremony, and I will have to wear a tuxedo. Never have worn a tuxedo in my life.”

Krehbiel come to New Mexico Tech in 1966 to work with physicist Marx Brook. He left for further graduate studies at University of Manchester in England, and was awarded a Ph.D. In 1981, he returned to New Mexico Tech as a research physicist. Krehbiel joined the faculty in 1985.