Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ocean-Tracking Receiver to Aid Weather Forecasts

12.02.2009
For weather forecasters trying to stay ahead of the next tropical cyclone, deadly heat wave or drought, knowing the ocean water temperature, circulation patterns and current shifts can be critical factors to success.

Now, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, are designing and building the next generation of orbiting tracker for NASA that will supply such data with unparalleled precision.

The 18-inch receiver being built at UMass Amherst, is part of the larger instrument expected to greatly enhance forecasting. It works by reflecting 35-GHz microwaves off the Earth’s surface from an orbit 600 miles above to track factors that long-range meteorologists use to predict climate phenomena. Knowing water temperature and current flow can help to give early warning of an El Niño effect, for example, which periodically triggers drought, floods, and other unusual weather events, costing billions of dollars.

The lead researcher building a critical component of the instrument, an interferometric receiver, is Paul Siqueira of the UMass Amherst Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. He and colleagues recently received a $1.08-million, three-year NASA grant to design and build the receiver, which is expected to be launched with other supporting instruments aboard the space agency’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite sometime between 2013 and 2016. It will provide a continually updated map of global water levels, topography and temperature for the oceans and for selected inland waters.

This latest interferometer project from UMass Amherst and JPL represents a significant improvement over a previous version that flew on board the space shuttle in 2000, and orbited at a lower altitude (140 miles). The new generation will carry more advanced electronics, and will be smaller, lighter and consume less power, hence cheaper to launch and operate.

The interferometer works by bouncing a microwave beam off the water surface below and measuring the difference in arrival time back at the antennas located 30 feet from each other on the satellite. The instrument takes extremely accurate readings of the water height at many points worldwide, according to Siqueira. “With both antennas receiving signals at nearly the same time, we measure the difference in time that it takes each signal to reach the antennas, and then with a simple geometric transformation, determine the height of that spot in the ocean.” The microwaves are extremely low power and will be harmless to people, wildlife and boats in the water, Siqueira points out.

With these data, water temperature can be calculated, given that a half-inch change in ocean height over a 100-foot vertical volume corresponds to a one-degree Fahrenheit change in temperature. “The warmer the water, the more oceans swell, and the more water goes into the atmosphere,” the engineer explains. “What you’re getting from the satellite measurements is a temperature map of the oceans that has been derived from its topography.” Mapping in this way can alert observers to changes in ocean temperature and currents – keys to predicting hurricane tracks, monitoring features such as the Gulf Stream and, ultimately, assessing the climate variables.

“The more detailed measurements you have from a satellite,” says Siqueira, “the more accurate global climate model you can create.”

Paul Siqueira | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umass.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Filter may be a match for fracking water
26.09.2017 | Swansea University

nachricht Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent
25.09.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bacterial Nanosized Speargun Works Like a Power Drill

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

The fastest light-driven current source

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Beer can lift your spirits

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>