Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A 'Hot Tower' Above The Eye Can Make Hurricanes Stronger

Date:
January 13, 2004
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
They are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the West Pacific, and tropical cyclones worldwide; but wherever these storms roam, the forces that determine their severity now are a little less mysterious. NASA scientists, using data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, have found "hot tower" clouds are associated with tropical cyclone intensification.

They are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the West Pacific, and tropical cyclones worldwide; but wherever these storms roam, the forces that determine their severity now are a little less mysterious. NASA scientists, using data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, have found "hot tower" clouds are associated with tropical cyclone intensification.

Related Articles


Owen Kelley and John Stout of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and George Mason University will present their findings at the American Meteorological Society annual meeting in Seattle on Monday, January 12.

Kelley and Stout define a "hot tower" as a rain cloud that reaches at least to the top of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere. It extends approximately nine miles (14.5 km) high in the tropics. These towers are called "hot" because they rise to such altitude due to the large amount of latent heat.Water vapor releases this latent heat as it condenses into liquid.

A particularly tall hot tower rose above Hurricane Bonnie in August 1998, as the storm intensified a few days before striking North Carolina. Bonnie caused more than $1 billion damage and three deaths, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Hurricane Center.

Kelley said, "The motivation for this new research is that it is not enough to predict the birth of a tropical cyclone. We also want to improve our ability to predict the intensity of the storm and the damage it would cause if it struck the coast." The pioneering work of Joanne Simpson, Jeffrey Halverson and others has already shown hot towers increase the chance a new tropical cyclone will form. Future work may use this association to improve forecasts of a cyclone's destructive potential.

To achieve their goal, Kelley and Stout needed to compile a special kind of global statistics on the occurrence of hot towers inside tropical cyclones. The only possible data source was TRMM satellite, a joint effort of NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. "Many satellites can see the top of a hot tower, but what's special about this satellite's Precipitation Radar is that it gives you 'X-ray vision' so you can see inside a hot tower," Kelley said. To compile global statistics, the radar needs to be orbiting the Earth.

After compiling the statistics, Kelley and Stout found a tropical cyclone with a hot tower in its eyewall was twice as likely to intensify within the next six hours than a cyclone that lacked a tower. The "eyewall" is the ring of clouds around a cyclone's central eye. Kelley and Stout considered many alternative definitions for hot towers before concluding the nine-mile height threshold was statistically significant.

###

Funding for the research was provided by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. The Enterprise strives to advance Earth System Science and to improve the prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards from the unique vantage point of space.

For more information about the research and images on the Internet, visit: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2004/0112towerclouds.html

For information about the TRMM Satellite on the Internet, visit: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov http://www.eorc.nasda.go.jp/TRMM

For information about NOAA's National Hurricane Center, visit: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

For information about Hurricane Bonnie, visit: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/1998bonnie.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "A 'Hot Tower' Above The Eye Can Make Hurricanes Stronger." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040113075851.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2004, January 13). A 'Hot Tower' Above The Eye Can Make Hurricanes Stronger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040113075851.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "A 'Hot Tower' Above The Eye Can Make Hurricanes Stronger." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040113075851.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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