Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UMass Tornado Researchers Heading Back To Great Plains

Date:
May 23, 2001
Source:
University Of Massachusetts At Amherst
Summary:
University of Massachusetts tornado researchers are heading back to the Great Plains to spend tornado season testing new ways to detect and predict the swirling storms.

AMHERST, Mass. – University of Massachusetts tornado researchers are heading back to the Great Plains to spend tornado season testing new ways to detect and predict the swirling storms. UMass faculty member and tornado chaser Andrew Pazmany and graduate student Vidhya Thyagarajan conduct research with the University’s highly-regarded Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory. Their work is funded by the National Science Foundation and the University, and is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Howard Bluestein and his graduate students at the University of Oklahoma.

The UMass team designs and constructs specialized radars, which are installed on customized pick-up trucks emblazoned with the University’s logo. The group chases tornadoes and monitors them using the truck-mounted radars and videocameras. The radar signals bounce off raindrops and flying debris, enabling scientists to track the movement of parcels of wind – some of it blowing more than 300 miles an hour.

Engineers and scientists then scrutinize the data collected, in an effort to pinpoint what meteorological conditions enable a supercell, or large rotating thunderstorm, to drop a funnel. By determining what conditions must exist for the formation of an especially fierce tornado, researchers hope to develop accurate predictions of when and where such a tornado may touch down, giving people time to evacuate.

This year, the team will introduce a long-range, three-centimeter wavelength radar, which can scan storms 80 miles away. The radar is similar to those used on ships, but has been customized to monitor extreme weather. The antenna resembles a white cone about the size of a picnic table, and is specially constructed to withstand severe weather. Inside the truck’s cab, a keyboard and joystick control the antenna scanning machinery, while a monitor provides researchers with real-time images of the storm’s location, motion, and structure. This information will help researchers detect developing storms, decide which storm to chase when there are multiple storms in the area, and approach tornadoes safely and efficiently even when the twisters are hidden in rain.

The new radar will be used in conjunction with the team’s close-range, three-millimeter wavelength radar, which is used to gather extremely detailed information within just a few miles of a storm. “The long-range radar is like using a camera, because you get a good overview of the storm activity in the area,” explained Pazmany, “while the short-range radar is like a microscope. It does not see very far away, but resolves very fine detail that you cannot get with any other existing radar.”

The team is hopeful that this year’s data from the two radars will provide the opportunity to test a new algorithm, said Pazmany. “The storms’ images, collected with the two radars at two different frequencies, can be processed with an artificial neural network to estimate quantitative properties of the storms, such as the distribution of liquid and the size of rain drops, in addition to the conventional Doppler (velocity) and reflectivity (structure) images. Essentially, we’re getting two different sets of information, which gives us a much more complete picture of tornadoes and their parent storms.”

UMass researchers say that the new long-range radar is a prototype. They are hoping to eventually establish a network of these portable radars to monitor extreme weather events.

Images and additional data are available at http://abyss.ecs.umass.edu/tornado


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. "UMass Tornado Researchers Heading Back To Great Plains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010518082334.htm>.
University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. (2001, May 23). UMass Tornado Researchers Heading Back To Great Plains. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010518082334.htm
University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. "UMass Tornado Researchers Heading Back To Great Plains." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010518082334.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins