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UND atmospheric sciences seeks funds for weather webcam

Andrew Haffner

A crowdfunding campaign at UND could give weather watchers a new eye to the sky.

If all goes as planned, there could soon be a new web camera placed atop Odegard Hall, home of the university's aviation program, to provide a live feed to the internet for viewers.

UND atmospheric sciences assistant professor Aaron Kennedy is driving the push to secure the camera. He and a pair of UND students, seniors Kalela Lucke and Max Mueller, have set up a webpage to describe their project and seek contributions toward a funding goal of $8,000 to cover the cost of all necessary equipment and installation.

"In the past couple years, I can think of lots of cool atmospheric phenomena that would have been good to get on camera," Kennedy said. He listed as prime examples summertime tornados, the aurora borealis and winter optical effects such as sundogs.

This would be the second time the university has trained a lens on the sky, Kennedy said. Back in about 2000, UND installed its first webcam on Odegard Hall to keep an eye on the weather.

Kennedy said that camera dutifully streamed footage above a traffic intersection for roughly eight years before signing off for the last time. The end of the feed didn't go unnoticed online.

"After it died—and we weren't keeping track of the web traffic and stuff—but we ended up getting all these messages from folks asking, 'Hey where'd the camera go, it's not updating,' " Kennedy said. As it turns out, viewers had been tuning in to check the weather and scout road conditions. The stream has been down for nearly a decade since.

A new camera would allow the feed to resume for community use, Kennedy said, while also giving UND professors a new tool to show students local examples of the weather events discussed in class.

"I think the best way to educate is using something that all of us probably saw," he said. "It's kind of tight for us to fund it out of our department's budget, but I thought this was something everyone could use so it seems perfect for a crowdfunding campaign."

The campaign can be found at the Alumni Association's crowdfunding website, act.undalumni.org.

UMN senior class

Back offline, a senior exercise class supported in part by the University of Minnesota-Crookston has been cleared to participate in a study of elder health.

The class, titled Stay Active and Independent for Life, or SAIL, is offered through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the Red River Valley. Its purpose is to promote independent living for elderly people through education and exercises that include stretching, strengthening, balance, and aerobic movement.

The study would take place in partnership with Metro Area Agency on Aging, located in St. Paul, and would be aimed at learning more about Minnesota's evidence-based health promotion programs—specifically in regard to preventing falls and reducing medical interventions.

As part of the study, seniors who participate in volunteer-led SAIL classes twice a week would be be asked to provide assessments of their attitude and number of falls before and after taking part in exercise courses.

For information on SAIL or the wider volunteer program, visit www.crk.umn.edu/units/rsvp or call program director Tammy Frohlich at (218) 281-8289

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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