Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ERS-2 peers into Hurricane Isabel’s heart

19.09.2003


As Hurricane Isabel converges on the US East Coast, a veteran ESA spacecraft has provided meteorologists with crucial insights into the underlying pressure system powering the storm.



An entire flotilla of satellites is being kept busy tracking Hurricane Isabel in visible and infrared light, as well as gathering additional measurements of local sea surface temperature, wind and rainfall levels. ESA spacecraft ERS-2 has made the picture more detailed still by discerning the wind speed and direction around the hurricane’s cloud and rain-wracked heart.

ERS-2 instruments include a C-band scatterometer, which works by sending a high-frequency radar pulse down to the ocean, then analysing the pattern of backscatter reflected back again. Scatterometers are particularly useful in measuring wind speed and direction at the sea surface, by detecting signature scatter from ripples on the water caused by wind. ERS-2’s scatterometer is less sensitive than comparable space-based instruments to rain or bad weather, and can gather data both day and night. This makes it invaluable as an early detector of Atlantic storms – especially in the current hurricane season.


The Isabel data was obtained mid-afternoon Wednesday at one of ESA’s ground stations in Gatineau Canada, then rapidly delivered to meteorology offices worldwide. At the Reading-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), it was analysed against the surface wind pattern predicted by their existing software simulation of Isabel, run on powerful supercomputers.

"The ERS wind data is very valuable to us," said Hans Hersbach of ECMWF. "It shows differences with our analysis, for instance a lack of inward wind flow into the centre. By assimilating the data into our analysis we improve our forecasting skills.

"The ESA scatterometer data was routinely assimilated into our analysis after 1997, until it became no longer available early this century. Now the service has been resumed we are making use of it once more."

ESA’s ERS-2 has been in orbit since 1995, but the service from the scatterometer was interrupted in 2001. A degradation in attitude control prevented access to the data. Meteorologists lost a valuable window on the weather – until this summer, when after two-and-a-half-years of effort, new processing software developed by the Belgian Royal Military Academy (RMA) compensated for the degradation and regained access to scatterometer measurements.

The software algorithm was installed in ground stations at Kiruna in Sweden, Maspalomas in the Canary Islands Gatineau in Canada as well as Frascati in Italy, with an additional installation planned for West Freugh in Scotland. The new service began at the end of August, just in time for Hurricane Isabel’s dramatic arrival.

To maintain future continuity of scatterometer coverage, a new more advanced scatterometer instrument called ASCAT is part of the payload for ESA’s MetOp mission, currently due to launch in 2005.

Inside a hurricane

Hurricanes are large powerful storms that rotate around a central area of extreme low pressure. They arise in warm tropical waters that transfer their heat to the air. The warmed air rises rapidly, in the process creating low pressure at the water surface. Winds begin rushing inwards and upwards around this low-pressure zone.

Currently classed at Category Two on the five-point Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale, Isabel originated in the eastern Atlantic last week. It is currently moving northwest at only about 24 kilometres an hour but winds within it are rotating at about 160 km per hour. Meteorologists forecast the hurricane will make landfall in North Carolina on Thursday.

Wolfgang Lengert | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaSA/SEM4Y70P4HD_earth_0.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht New research unlocks forests' potential in climate change mitigation
21.04.2017 | Clemson University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>