Drifting buoys & floats weather hurricanes for better storm prediction
While some are still cleaning up from the series of hurricanes that plowed through the Caribbean and southern United States this season, scientists supported by the Office of Naval Research are busily cleaning up valuable data collected during the storms. The rapid-fire hurricanes barely gave researchers time to rest between flights that took them into the hearts of Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. As part of a project called CBLAST, for Coupled Boundary Layer/Air-Sea Transfer, researchers air-dropped specially designed instruments into the paths of the hurricanes--and into the hurricanes themselves.
"This season has seen a breakthrough in hurricane and oceanographic research," said ONR program manager Dr. Carl Friehe. "Real-time data sent back by the drifters and floats have created great interest among oceanographers, meteorologists, and hurricane forecasters." Project CBLAST-Hurricane focuses on the energy exchanges between the ocean and atmosphere during a hurricane, and how those interactions affect a storms intensity (a separate CBLAST component studies low-wind interactions). By better understanding these energy exchanges, scientists can develop better models to predict a hurricanes development. A hurricanes intensity determines the size of the storm surge of water that precedes it--which can pose a significant threat to ships in port.
Jennifer Huergo | EurekAlert!
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