Kenny’s biggest passion as a teenager was meteorology. ‘I was always looking out of my window and shared my observations on weather forums.'
Kenny obtained his bachelor degree in Soil, Water, Atmosphere, but he already got tired of meteorology after two courses. ‘It was too theoretical and I had to do a lot of mathematics.’ Therefore he decided to focus on the integration between soil, water and atmosphere in climate issues and chose for the Master Climate Studies. ‘When looking back the Master was a bit too broad for me, because at the beginning I did not know which specialisation to choose. Once you know what you want the Master Climate Studies is perfect because there is a lot of room to follow your own path.’
Kenny’s thesis was part of the large ‘HighNoon-project’ of Wageningen University and Alterra about climate change in the delta of the Ganges. Kenny investigated how Indian farmers could irrigate more efficiently in the future when climate change occurs. ‘I was working with a model that simulated the field. In the model you could change variables, like rainfall, growth of the crops and soil characteristics. In India I had to collect data so my model would be exactly like the real field. I used data about rainfall in the last 30 years to predict future rain patterns in relation to climate change. This helped me to get an idea about the effects on the crops and harvests and advise on the irrigation.
Besides, I looked at the value of short term weather predictions of 5 days for Indian farmers and whether it would help them to irrigate more efficiently. It turned out that there was a lot of potential, but due to the cultural differences there were communication problems, which made it hard to bring this in practice.’
During his thesis Kenny discovered that he really likes to work on the practical applications of meteorology, which helped him to look for a suitable internship. ‘I worked at the KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorology Institute) in the Weather Research department. There I had to analyse large datasets and use programming to find a relation between the altitude of the rain clouds and the intensity of the rainfall. I was very happy that I learned how to do this during my master Climate Studies. It turned out that during the summer rain clouds at a higher altitude cause more rainfall. This sounds like a very straightforward conclusion, but a lot of steps have to be taken to display and localise rainfall intensity. I spent most time of the project on dealing with complications in the radar measurements.
During his internship Kenny got the opportunity to work one day in the weather room, which is where he works permanently nowadays. ‘Airmen call me to receive short term weather information to see if they can take off. There are people in the weather room 24/7 and 365 days per year so I also have to take nightshifts and work in weekends and holidays. This is not always nice, but it does not bother me because I really enjoy my job.