with NASA scientists
July 26, 2006
My name is Jason Dunion and I'm with the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, FL. NOAA is pleased to once again be partnering with NASA in the field to coordinate our research of Atlantic Hurricanes. Coordinated aircraft research efforts between NOAA and NASA began in 1998 and this year's field campaign represents the 4th joint collaboration since then. The prior three collaborations have been extremely fruitful and we expect the same success this summer. The field activities that are planned will provide a unique opportunity to study an area of the ocean basin that is infrequently sampled by aircraft and yet generates numerous tropical waves?that represent the seedlings for many tropical cyclones each year. In fact, these seedlings account for ~60% of all tropical cyclones and ~85% of all major hurricanes that occur in the Atlantic. And yet, only about 1 in 10 of these tropical waves actually forms into a named storm. The reasons for this are still not fully understood.
Over the past several decades, the NOAA OAR's forecasts of hurricane track have steadily improved by ~1% per year. Unfortunately, its forecasts of hurricane intensity have not been met with the same level of success over the years. In fact, NOAA's advancements in predicting hurricane intensity lag behind those of track by ~15-20 years. Simply put, predicting how a hurricane will strengthen or weaken is a difficult task and scientists are still attempting to fully understand the many complex factors in the atmosphere and ocean that can affect hurricane intensity. For these reasons, NOAA's main focus this summer will be to closely examine hurricane intensity change by conducting its Intensity Forecasting Experiment (called IFEX) during its collaborations with NASA. The main goals of IFEX include:
NOAA will conduct several aircraft research experiments in support of its IFEX program this summer. These experiments include:
Two of these NOAA research experiments will be directly coordinated with NASA's NAMMA project this summer:
This year's NOAA-NASA field campaign will monitor storms from seedlings over Africa to mature hurricanes that might affect the U.S. coastline several days later. NASA will focus its efforts to study insipient tropical disturbances and the Saharan Air Layer over Africa and the eastern North Atlantic. As the "baton is passed" east to west from NASA to NOAA, NOAA (operating from Barbados, St. Croix, or Bermuda), will continue monitoring these same tropical systems, their possible genesis into hurricanes, and their interactions with the Saharan Air Layer. This summer's NOAA-NASA partnership will provide the most geographically expansive aircraft monitoring of tropical cyclones that has ever been carried out across the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. The NAMMA and IFEX programs will also enable scientists to closely monitor disturbances that originate over Africa and eventually impact the U.S.
NOAA and NASA scientists will use the data that is collected this summer to help unlock some of the mysteries related to hurricane intensity change in the Atlantic. Data that is collected will be incorporated into NOAA and other operational forecast models around the world to help improve forecasts of hurricane track and intensity.
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