SeaWinds Spots Gabrielle Early
The arrows represent wind speed, color and size indicate the magnitude (larger arrow=stronger wind). The average vorticity, or spin, of the atmosphere is indicated by background color (blue=strongest rotation). This area of low pressure is indicative of the formation of a tropical depression. This depression was spotted using SeaWinds data 10 hours before the National Hurricane Center classified it as a tropical depression at 5 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. Gabrielle later strengthened to Hurricane status at 11 p.m. Sept. 16, after crossing Florida from the Gulf of Mexico into the open Atlantic Ocean.
With the right mix of winds and sea surface temperatures, an ordinary cluster of tropical thunderstorms can explode into a tropical storm. These "ingredients" help scientists forecast movement of these intense phenomena. Data from Hurricane Erin, September 10-15, 2001.
NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite is providing meteorologists with accurate data on surface winds over the global oceans, leading to improved 2- to 5- day forecasts and weather warnings. The increased accuracy, already being used in hurricane forecasts, is bringing economic savings and a reduction in weather-related loss of life, especially at sea, according to a recent NASA study.
Robert Atlas, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., demonstrated the initial beneficial impact of scatterometer data on weather prediction. In a recent experiment, he showed how the combined use of data from two scatterometers can lead to an even larger increase in the accuracy of weather analyses and forecasts, especially at the two to five-day range. One scatterometer is onboard NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite and the other is on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Midori-II (ADEOS-II) satellite. In 2003, the Midori-II instrument became non-operational, but while both instruments worked, they showed the capability to improve forecasting. These findings will be presented on Jan. 14, at the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting in Seattle.
“QuikSCAT has led to marked improvements in daily marine weather analyses, forecasts and warnings issued by the National Weather Service,” said Atlas. He added these improvements are especially beneficial since “Ninety percent of world trade moves over the oceans. Using QuikSCAT data clearly improves economies and saves the lives by giving the shipping industry more accurate warnings.”
Rob Gutro | GSFC
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