Kate Colna

Kate Colna

About my research:

My research focuses on understanding the factors that affect the variability of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ is a zonal (East-West) band of convection over the tropics that impacts climate around the world. The ITCZ is generally in the Northern Hemisphere, but varies between 5 degrees south and 20 degrees north. I use cloud height, precipitation, and wind data obtained from satellites to detect the position of the ITCZ, since it does not maintain one fixed position. Tracking the ITCZ has allowed me to create a practical index of the monthly latitudinal position of the ITCZ for approximately 20 years. I analyze the ITCZ based on the three parameters to detect long term and seasonal changes in the position of the ITCZ. Additionally, in the months of February to May there are two distinct bands of convection on both sides of the equator, this is known as the double ITCZ. My research includes detecting the double ITCZ and determining if it has seasonal and long term changes as well. Studying the ITCZ is important because shifts in the ITCZ lead to shifts in local weather, ecosystems, and biogeochemistry, and would explain many of the long term as well as the seasonal changes in tropics.


When choosing a school to work on my master’s degree and research I wanted a school that had the benefits a big university without the overwhelming atmosphere of a big school. USF-CMS has provided me with the big school experience in a smaller setting. The friendly and relaxed atmosphere that I experienced during my visit to USF-CMS and the staff answering all of my questions made my decision that much easier. Working on my research at USF-CMS, has given me several opportunities, like helping with the preparation and contact list for teachers from the St. Petersburg Science Festival. I also was awarded a fellowship to help pay for my tuition, which was not available to me at smaller institutions. The resources that USF-CMS has and the contacts that I have made already in my first year here really have enhanced my research experience. I was able to network with someone from NOAA in Miami, and now he is part of my master’s committee. The city of St. Petersburg is close to so many attractions like beaches, amusement parks, airports, and festivals that when you aren’t working or studying there is always something to do. USF-CMS has so much to offer graduate students due to their association with a big school, but its location at the USF St. Petersburg campus and their staff, make USF-CMS feel like a small school and provide a friendly atmosphere for learning, friendships, networking, and research.