Birth of a hurricane: Researchers will fly into tropical weather disturbances

Jul 27, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Summer storms are a regular feature in the North Atlantic, and while most pose little threat to our shores, a choice few become devastating hurricanes.

To decipher which storms could bring danger, and which will not, atmospheric scientists are heading to the tropics to observe these systems as they form and dissipate--or develop into hurricanes.

By learning to identify which systems are the most critical to track, the efforts may ultimately allow for earlier hurricane prediction, and add several days to prepare for a hurricane's arrival.

With primary support from NSF, the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics (PREDICT) mission will run from August 15 to September 30, 2010, the height of .

Flying aboard the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V (G-V) research aircraft, formerly known as HIAPER, researchers will make observations from close proximity, and above, storm systems.  In addition to deploying dropsondes--parachute-borne instrument packages--the researchers will use remote sensing and cloud physics instruments to gather data on temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and characteristics of ice particles and their nuclei, which may include African dust.

"We hope to test recently developed hypotheses about flow features of waves that help distinguish which ones will develop into tropical storms," said Christopher Davis, of the NSF-sponsored National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and a principal investigator on the project. "These hypotheses require measurements across hundreds of miles, but with details in places down to one mile or so, and even less when we consider the ice particles themselves."

The NSF/NCAR research team will coordinate their observations with two concurrent, but independent, missions in the region: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) project known as GRIP (Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) IFEX (Intensity Forecasting Experiment).

"The NSF/NCAR G-V offers us unprecedented capability to collect critical atmospheric measurements over regions far larger than has been practical for traditional ‘lower-and-slower' turboprop hurricane-hunter aircraft," added Bradley Smull, NSF program director for Physical and Dynamic Meteorology. "The G-V will allow our investigators to sample the inner workings of a large number of towering tropical cloud systems, and ultimately to better discriminate those that will develop into full-blown hurricanes from those that will not."

In addition to researchers from NCAR, the project will include collaborators from the Naval Postgraduate School, University at Albany-SUNY, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Miami, NorthWest Research Associates of Redmond, Wash., New Mexico Tech, Purdue University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Read more, including specific details about the flight, in the NCAR press release " study to tackle long-standing mystery".

Explore further: NASA provides double vision on Typhoon Matmo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

High-Flying Balloons Track Hurricane Formation

Aug 31, 2006

The eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean is out of range for U.S. hurricane-hunter aircraft, and forecasters have little skill predicting which systems brewing there will develop into hurricanes, atmospheric scientists ...

Busy Atlantic storm season predicted

Aug 02, 2005

U.S. storm forecasters say they expect 11 to 14 tropical storms with most developing into hurricanes over the remainder of the 2005 Atlantic storm season.

NASA to fly into hurricane research this summer

Jul 07, 2010

Three NASA aircraft will begin flights to study tropical cyclones on Aug. 15 during the agency's first major U.S.-based hurricane field campaign since 2001. The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes ...

NCAR adds resources to TeraGrid

Aug 10, 2007

Researchers who use the TeraGrid, the nation’s most comprehensive and advanced infrastructure for open scientific research, can now leverage the computing resources of a powerful, 2048-processor BlueGene/L ...

Recommended for you

Jeju Island is a live volcano, study reveals

22 hours ago

In Jeju, a place emerging as a world-famous vacation spot with natural tourism resources, a recent study revealed a volcanic eruption occurred on the island. The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral ...

Has Antarctic sea ice expansion been overestimated?

23 hours ago

New research suggests that Antarctic sea ice may not be expanding as fast as previously thought. A team of scientists say much of the increase measured for Southern Hemisphere sea ice could be due to a processing ...

User comments : 0