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 August 23, 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 August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) 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