The image on the left shows the intensity of rainfall in a tropical cyclone. The colorbar above the image shows millimeters of rainfall per hour, with reds being the heaviest rainfall. The image on the right shows a 3-D structure of rain in tropical cyclones. The highest cloud tower on the image reaches 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) high. Credit: NASA
TRMM captured Hurricane Ivan as it made landfall on September 16, 2004. Ivan affected Alabama, Florida, Lousianna, and Georgia. TRMM sees the rain (through the clouds). Blue areas have at least 0.25 inches of rain per hour(hr). Green shows 0.5 inches; yellow, at least 1.0 inch, and Red shows the most intense rains where over 2.0 inches/hr. were recorded. Credit: NASA
Seeing how rain falls from top to bottom and how heavy the rain falls throughout parts of a tropical cyclone is very important to hurricane forecasters. NASA has sped up the process of getting this data within three hours, and making it appear in 3-D. The new process now gives information quickly enough for forecasters to use.
Scientists at NASA have developed a way to process radar data from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite that can help with forecasting changes in a hurricane’s intensity.
"What’s important is that the vertical rain structure data used to take a longer time to process," said Jeffrey Halverson, Meteorologist and TRMM Education and Outreach Scientist. With hurricane forecasts, events change quickly, and meteorologists need data as fast as possible. This new process gives them data within three hours from the time the satellite has flown over a tropical cyclone."
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