The collaborative international project, involving scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and a number of other organizations, will examine in detail how tornadoes form and the patterns of damage they cause. The findings are expected to improve tornado warnings and short-term severe weather forecasts.
The field campaign, known as VORTEX2 (Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment 2), will run from May 10 to June 13. A second phase is planned for the spring of 2010.
"We still do not completely understand the processes that lead to tornado formation and shape its development," says Roger Wakimoto, director of NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory and a principal investigator for VORTEX2. "We hope that VORTEX2 will provide the data we need to learn more about the development of tornadoes and in time help forecasters give people more advance warning before a tornado strikes."
The $11.9 million VORTEX2 program is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR, and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In addition to NCAR, participants include the Center for Severe Weather Research, Rasmussen Systems, NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Pennsylvania State University, University of Oklahoma, Texas Tech University, Lyndon State College, University of Colorado, Purdue University, North Carolina State University, University of Illinois, University of Massachusetts, University of Nebraska, Environment Canada, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The crucial zone
The first VORTEX project, conducted in 1994 and 1995, gathered critical data on supercells, the severe and long-lived thunderstorms that give birth to the most destructive and deadly tornadoes. VORTEX findings are credited for improving National Weather Service tornado warnings, which now have a lead time of about 13 minutes.
Building on that progress, VORTEX2 researchers will use enhanced mobile radars and other new weather-sensing tools to gather far more detail on the crucial zone where tornadoes develop. Rapidly changing contrasts in wind and temperature in this zone, which is only a few miles across, can spawn a tornado within minutes. However, such an event happens in only a small fraction of supercell storms, and standard observing networks and radars often fail to capture the atmospheric conditions that lead to a tornado.
"VORTEX2 will help us better understand the difference between thunderstorms that produce tornadoes and those that don't," says NCAR scientist David Dowell, a VORTEX2 field coordinator. "By identifying the characteristics of severe thunderstorms that produce tornadoes, forecasters will be able to issue tornado warnings further in advance and potentially save lives."
Probing a vast region with high-tech tools
The radar fleet for VORTEX2, including 10 mobile radars, will track winds and precipitation in and near tornadoes in unprecedented detail. The instruments will have a resolution as fine as 300 feet and time steps as small as 15 seconds. More than three dozen portable surface weather stations will blanket the area in and near a target storm.
The VORTEX2 study area spans more than 900 miles, stretching from west Texas to southwest Minnesota. On each day of operations, participants will position equipment about an hour ahead of a potentially tornadic storm and remain in place until the storm arrives. NOAA forecasters and partners will provide intensive guidance on short-fuse weather events as each day unfolds.
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
On the Web:VORTEX2:
David Hosansky | Newswise Science News
UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine
Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences