KSU, University of Wisconsin-Madison Collaborating in Dust Storm Research

Main, Arts, International Collaboration
Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nelson Institute for Enviromental StudiesDr. Fahad M. Alkolibi, dean of the KSU College of Arts and a professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography, signed a cooperative agreement in April with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Climatic Research (CCR) to study dust storms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Associate Scientist Dr. Michael Notaro signed on behalf of the CCR.

An eighteen-month program, titled “Seasonal and Interannual Prediction of Saudi Arabian Dust Storms,” will begin in September 2011, and will be under the supervision of Dr. AlKolibi, who expressed joy to work with CCR, “which is among the most advanced climate research centers in the world.”

Dr. Notaro leads two research groups within CCR – one related to regional climate modeling and the other related to land-atmosphere interactions. The statistical and dynamic modeling expertise in both groups will be critical to performing the necessary research to predict dust storms. In a telephone interview Dr. Notaro said that he “was excited to be part of the program. This is a unique opportunity to collaborate with the excellent KSU.” He felt the agreement would lead to “the ability to improve prediction of dust storms in a region that can benefit from intellectual advancement in the technology.”

King Saud UniversityDust storms have risen in frequency and intensity in the past decade, and existing Climate Change Science suggests that KSA will get hotter and drier as the earth warms, increasing the probability for even more frequent and destructive dust storms. The cooperative agreement with CCR is the first step in the process of developing a world-class predictive expertise on dust storms and climatic change at KSU. This expertise will yield long-term benefits for the people of KSA, its transportation, health, and agricultural sectors, as well as for the environment in general.

“The agreement crowns concerted efforts to launch cooperation with the CCR,” Dr. AlKolibi said. The discussions began in 2009 during a visit to UW-M by Dr. Fawzia Bakhurji of KSU. The general agreement includes many initiatives, including joint research; publishing of the joint research in ISI-accredited academic journals; exchange visits by students, faculty and researchers; scientific advising to KSU and to the private, public, and governmental sectors; supervising students in senior studies programs; organizing training courses and departmental workshops; and cooperation in post-doctoral research (short and full-time visits).

Dr. Notaro and Dr. AlKolibi are currently working on a draft outline of the plan of work for the first eighteen-month phase of the agreement. It is hoped that the agreement will lead to a long-term collaboration between the two universities.

King Saud UniversityThe cooperative agreement was signed under the auspices of the KSU International Twinning Program. (“Twinning” is an academic concept that pairs similar institutions in order to create a dynamic collaborative relationship.) Supervised by Dr. Saad Al-Hussein, the program seeks to advance KSU towards international leadership by twinning with internationally advanced universities, institutes, and research centers. KSU’s objectives for the International Twinning Program are to realize scientific leadership by enabling graduates to keep up with international standards of science and knowledge; promoting research operations so that the Kingdom can compete with other nations in scientific development; and upgrading the knowledge of directors and decision-makers in scientific research matters to enable them to keep abreast with new ideas at the international level.

Established with King Saud University in 1957, the College of Arts is the university’s first College. Today it encompasses eight departments: Arabic Language and Literature, English Language and Literature, History, Geography, Mass Communication, Social Studies, Library Information, and Women Divisions.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has long been recognized as one of America’s great universities. It is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States and was founded in 1848. It now has about 40,000 students enrolled every year and a 2000-strong faculty. Overall, the University maintains almost 100 research centers and programs, ranging from agriculture to arts, from education to engineering, from humanities to social sciences, and from health to natural sciences.

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