Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

World's Largest Tornado Experiment Heads for Great Plains

06.05.2009
The largest and most ambitious tornado study in history will begin next week, as dozens of scientists deploy radars and other ground-based instruments across the Great Plains to gain a better understanding of these often-deadly weather events.

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:
http://www.vortex2.org
Reports on each day's findings:
http://www.eol.ucar.edu/projects/vortex2/

David Hosansky | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ucar.edu
http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2009/vortex2.jsp

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>