Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Under pressure: Stormy weather sensor for hurricane forecasting

Date:
January 12, 2011
Source:
NASA
Summary:
It's hard to believe that, in this day and age, we don't have a way to measure sea-level air pressure during hurricanes. NASA researchers, however, are working on a system that will improve forecasting of severe ocean weather by doing just that. The device measures sea-level air pressure, a critical component of hurricane formation -- and one that has been extremely difficult to capture.

Hurricane Bill nears Cuba in 2009. A vertical profile from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder satellite (CALIPSO) is overlaid on an image from the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Credit: NASA

It's hard to believe that, in this day and age, we don't have a way to measure sea-level air pressure during hurricanes. NASA researchers, however, are working on a system that will improve forecasting of severe ocean weather by doing just that. The device measures sea-level air pressure, a critical component of hurricane formation -- and one that has been extremely difficult to capture.

The Differential Absorption Barometric Radar (DIABAR) prototype is scheduled to make its second flight early this year.

DIABAR remotely senses barometric pressure at sea level, which is important in the prediction and forecasting of severe weather, especially hurricanes, over oceans.

But the ability to measure sea-level air pressure is a major missing link in storm observation, says Dr. Bing Lin, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

"Air pressure is a driving force of weather systems, especially under severe weather conditions like hurricanes," he said. "For severe storms, the forecasts of the intensity and track can be significantly improved by pressure measurements."

A Hurricane's Life

A hurricane begins as a tropical wave, a westward-moving area of low air pressure. As warm, moist air over the ocean rises in the low air-pressure area, surrounding air replaces it, and circulation forms. This produces strong gusty winds, heavy rain and thunderclouds -- a tropical disturbance.

As air pressure drops and winds sustain at 38 mph or more, the disturbance becomes a tropical depression, then a tropical storm, and finally a hurricane with sustained winds of over 73 mph.

Lin hopes eventually to be able to measure sea-level air pressure from aircraft flyovers and space-based satellites. The local coverage provide by flyovers, combined with a broad perspective from space, will provide enough information to significantly improve the ability of forecasters to determine how intense a hurricane is and where it's headed.

"Large and frequent sea surface measurements are critically needed," he said. "These measurements cannot be made from buoys and aircraft dropsondes. The only hope is from remote sensing using aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and satellites."

An effort to remotely sense barometric pressure at sea-surface level using microwaves was undertaken at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in the 1980s. "JPL has extensive experience on spaceborne microwave sensors," said Lin.

First Flight

DIABAR was first deployed on a Navy MH-60S helicopter in 2009 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

"We flew it, got the results, and it looks great," said Lin.

The next step is testing this year on a blimp called the Bullet™ Class 580, the world's largest airship. E-Green Technologies Inc. in Alabama makes the aircraft.

The 235-foot long, 65-foot diameter lighter-than-air vehicle is designed to fly on algae-based biofuel at speeds up to 74 mph and altitudes up to 20,000 feet. It will be stationed in a hanger at Moffett Federal Airfield at NASA Ames Research Center in California.

DIABAR is a partnership between NASA Langley, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and the State University of New York at Albany.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Under pressure: Stormy weather sensor for hurricane forecasting." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111080848.htm>.
NASA. (2011, January 12). Under pressure: Stormy weather sensor for hurricane forecasting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111080848.htm
NASA. "Under pressure: Stormy weather sensor for hurricane forecasting." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111080848.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Using an organic fertiliser, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
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