Heather Holbach

Heather Holbach, Ph.D.

Assistant in Research at Florida State University (Northern Gulf Institute), Hurricane Research Division


2000 Levy Ave, Building A, Suite 292
Tallahassee, FL 32306

“What motivates my work is knowing that the contributions I’m making to help improve the analysis and forecast of tropical cyclones has a direct impact on helping to protect life and property.”

Dr. Heather Holbach is a NOAA cooperative institute employee with the Northern Gulf Institute at Florida State University (FSU) and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) Hurricane Research Division (HRD). She is on the research faculty at FSU and serves as HRD’s expert on the Stepped-Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR), which is flown on the NOAA P-3 and Air Force C-130 hurricane hunter aircraft. Her research focuses on refining wind speed estimates retrieved by the SFMR through improving the understanding of air-sea interactions in high-wind conditions. She participates in hurricane hunter flights to collect data for her research and has almost 100 hurricane eyewall penetrations in 13 different hurricanes.

Dr. Holbach obtained her Ph.D. in meteorology from Florida State University in 2016 under the advisement of Professor Mark Bourassa. She collaborated with scientists at HRD on her dissertation, which focused on understanding how wave and wind direction impacted SFMR wind speed retrievals. Dr. Holbach’s research interests are air-sea interaction, remote sensing, and tropical cyclones. She is currently serving on the AMS committee on Air-Sea Interaction.

Current Work

Assistant in Research at Florida State University, Northern Gulf Institute, Hurricane Research Division

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2016, Ph.D. Meteorology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

2012, M.S. Meteorology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

2010, B.S. Meteorology [Magna Cum Laude With Honors], Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

  1. Holbach, H.M., O. Bousquet, L. Bucci, P. Chang, J. Cione, S. Ditchek, J. Doyle, J.-P. Duvel, J. Elston, G. Goni, K.K. Hon, K. Ito, Z. Jelenak, X. Lei, R. Lumpkin, C.R. McMahon, C. Reason, E. Sanabia, L.K. Shay, J.A. Sippel, A. Sushko, J. Tang, K. Tsuboki, H. Yamada, J. Zawislak, and J.A. Zhang. Recent advancements in aircraft and in situ observations of tropical cyclones. Tropical Cyclone Research and Review, 12(2):81-99, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcrr.2023.06.001 2023
    Ref. 4271
  2. Zawislak, J., R.F. Rogers, S.D. Aberson, G.J. Alaka, G. Alvey, A. Aksoy, L. Bucci, J. Cione, N. Dorst, J. Dunion, M. Fischer, J. Gamache, S. Gopalakrishnan, A. Hazelton, H.M. Holbach, J. Kaplan, H. Leighton, F. Marks, S.T. Murillo, P. Reasor, K. Ryan, K. Sellwood, J.A. Sippel, and J.A. Zhang. Accomplishments of NOAA’S airborne hurricane field program and a broader future approach to forecast improvement. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 103(2):E311-E338, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-20-0174.1 2022
    Ref. 3984
  3. Stow, J.P., M.A. Bourassa, and H.M. Holbach. Analyzing gaps and hurricane rain coverage to inform NASA satellite proposals. Remote Sensing, 12(17):2673, https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12172673 2020
    Ref. 3852

2020 U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal

For courage, dedication, and heroism during search and rescue operations aboard NOAA’s P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft to locate the vessel Bourbon Rhode and its crew (on September 27-28, 2019).