Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Areas of Expertise
Meteorology/atmospheric science, weather prediction, severe weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter weather, mid-latitude cyclones, blizzards, heavy rainfall, climate and climate change, climate trends in severe weather.
Cody Kirkpatrick is a lecturer in atmospheric science. His research focuses on extreme weather phenomena, including hurricanes, thunderstorms and tornadoes. By studying the behavior of these storms -- how they develop, how they move and the ways in which they cause damage -- we can improve weather forecasts and provide more advance warning of their impacts.
As a lecturer, Kirkpatrick teaches a range of graduate and undergraduate courses. In 2015, he won the IU Trustee Teaching Award, and he has received grants from the IU Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to conduct research on classroom teaching best practices.
[The following text appears on screen: What is your area of expertise?]
[Video: A man appears on screen with the following text: “Cody Kirkpatrick, Lecturer, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences”]
[Cody speaks: “My name is Cody Kirkpatrick, and I am a lecturer in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences here at IU. My area of expertise is thunderstorms, so I study how thunderstorms move and all the different types of weather they produce, from heavy rain and large hail to strong winds and tornados.”]
[The following text appears on screen: How would you explain your research to the average person?]
[Cody speaks: “To the average person, I would say I study thunderstorm behavior. I want to understand better how thunderstorms move in a particular direction or exactly what type of weather they would produce, why does a particular thunderstorm produce a tornado but a nearby thunderstorm does not. And to do that, we take all the measurements of temperature, humidity and wind and put those together and try to understand how those cause thunderstorms to change as they behave.”]
[The following text appears on screen: What should people know about tornadoes in Indiana and the Midwest?]
[Cody speaks: “One of the things that’s important about severe weather here in Indiana is that even though tornadoes don’t occur as frequently here, we still have to take the risk seriously. It only takes a couple of seconds for a tornado to rip apart a mobile home or to flip a car, and we are especially vulnerable to severe weather that occurs at night here in Indiana. And so having a way to get weather information at night is something that’s just critical for people, whether it’s getting warning through your cell phone or having a NOAA weather radio by your bedside that will wake you up when severe weather comes your way, that’s really important for people to have. One of the concerns we have about Tornado Alley possibly shifting to the east is that there are differences in population density here in the Midwest and the southeastern United States compared to the Great Plains. A tornado in Indiana, quite simply, has a higher chance of hitting something compared to a tornado in Kansas. So if this is a real trend and it’s something that continues over the next couple of decades, it’s quite possible that our vulnerability to tornadoes and the risk of damage and destruction is going to continue as well.”]
[The following text appears on screen: How is climate change affecting severe weather in Indiana?]
[Cody speaks: “We are still trying to figure out how climate change is affecting thunderstorms and tornadoes, and the way I would describe that is consider hurricanes. We have had people living on the east coast of the United States for hundreds of years so we have a really long, thorough record of hurricane landfalls and the winds those storms produced, and the damage that they produced. But for tornadoes, we only have a really reliable record for about 40 or 50 years, so we are not as certain what is going to happen with thunderstorms and tornadoes but one thing we do know is that since thunderstorms thrive on high heat and high humidity, as temperatures continue to warm, it’s possible that you’ll have more thunderstorms in parts of the country that don’t normally experience them as well.”]
[The following text appears on screen: How have winters been impacted by climate change?]
[Cody speaks: “I think one of the things that’s difficult to understand about how winters will change as climate continues to change is that we don’t just have a year coming in the future where we will simply snap our fingers and no longer have winter in Indiana. We will always have winter in Indiana, but the winters are changing and the temperatures and snowfalls that I have experienced in winters here will be different than what my grandchildren experience. And the winters I’ve experienced are different than what my grandparents experienced, and so it’s difficult to understand because it takes decades for these kinds of trends to really take hold. But over a period of 30, 40, 50 years, we are going to see changes in how the seasons are impacted here in Indiana.”]
[The following text appears on screen: Is there anything else people should know about this topic?]
[Cody speaks: “I think one thing that’s important for people to know is just some of the basic vocabulary about severe weather. For example, the difference between a watch and a warning. A tornado watch means that the conditions are favorable in the next few hours, but if you hear of a warning for your location, that means you need to get to a safe place right now.”]
[Video: The IU logo appears on the screen, along with the following text: “Indiana University. Fulfilling the Promise. iu.edu”]