12 September, 2016 07:37

GSD supports Hurricane Hermine forecasts

NOAA’s Global Systems Division created a website to stream data collected by NOAA’s Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) project to support decision-making by NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters.

NASA’s Global Hawk deployed a record 90 dropsondes during the first Hurricane Rapid Response mission above Tropical Depression #9 to map the 3-D structure of the storm from 60,000 feet to the surface. During the second mission, the UAS deployed 87 dropsondes as Tropical Storm Hermine (previously TD #9) was upgraded to a hurricane. A downward looking Doppler radar on the Global Hawk provided profiles of precipitation structure and winds.

GSD’s data visualization team created a website that displays the data collected by the Global Hawk in real-time. The dots show where the Global Hawk dropped sondes to sample the hurricane. Data from those sondes are shown in the white box, lower right. The colors are data from an instrument that measures wind, rain, and ice to analyze storm intensity.

NHC forecasters mentioned the data in a discussion on September 1: “Recent observations from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft and the unmanned NASA Global Hawk indicate that the tropical cyclone remains just below tropical storm strength. The NOAA aircraft has reported peak flight level winds in the southeastern quadrant of 32 kt, and believable Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) winds of around 30 kt. A dropsonde from the Global Hawk reported 33 kt surface winds, but the mean-layer wind over the lowest 150 m support winds closer to 30 kt. A very recent center drop from the unmanned aircraft indicates that the minimum pressure is 1003 mb."

SHOUT’s Co-PI, Jason Dunion from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, coordinated with the NHC throughout the mission, optimizing the flight pattern designs to capture both atmospheric events. "This was a great demonstration of man and unmanned aircraft teaming as the NOAA WP-3 was flying TD-9 and providing data at the same time," says Dunion. "More good things will follow."

This work was a collaboration between GSD, the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, and NOAA’s SHOUT project.


John "JC" Coffey

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