NOAA AOML will play host to a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on September 22, 2016 from 1:00-3:00pm EST. Frank Marks, Sc.D., Director of the Hurricane Research Division at AOML, and P-3 hurricane hunter pilot Commander Justin Kibbey of the NOAA Corps will answer questions.
NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters regularly fly into developing systems that may threaten landfall or to study important features to improve forecasts.
NOAA Hurricane Hunters are flying back-to-back missions to study the newly developed Tropical Storm Hermine in the Gulf of Mexico, capturing its evolution from a cluster of thunderstorms into a tropical storm. Getting data during such transitions can help improve hurricane models which currently don’t predict transitions well. Our understanding of the physical processes of early storm development remains limited, largely because there are few observations.
Scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) are at the vanguard of hurricane research. Each hurricane season we fly into storms, pore over observations and models, and consider new technological developments to enhance NOAA’s observing capacity and improve track and intensity forecasts. The 2016 hurricane season will provide an opportunity for our scientists to test some of the most advanced and innovative technologies and refined forecasting tools to help better predict a storm’s future activity.
As a hurricane approaches landfall, citizens are hoping that they are adequately prepared for the potential damage from strong winds and rising oceans. NOAA’s job is to forecast the storm location and strength, or intensity, to help communities make the best informed decisions. For many scientists, predicting intensity is a challenge at the forefront of hurricane research, and in recent years advancements in observations and modeling have improved NOAA’s forecasts of intensity by 20%. We are now at the point where scientists can observe and predict with very fine detail what is happening in the inner core of the storm.
AOML hurricane researcher Jason Dunion participated in NOAA’s El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign, a comprehensive land, sea, and air sampling effort in the tropical Pacific, to study the current El Niño and improve weather forecasts thousands of miles away.
A team from NOAA and Raytheon successfully demonstrated recent advancements of the Coyote Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) while completing a mid-flight launch from the NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft on January 7th. The successful flight verified new technology designed to improve Coyote’s ability to collect vital weather data to improve hurricane forecasts.
On September 5th, NASA’s Global Hawk took off from Wallops Island, Virginia to fly a 24 hour mission over Tropical Storm Fred. The Global Hawk launched dropsondes to measure the wind structure of the storm and gathered other meteorological data such as temperature and moisture with instruments on board. The Global Hawk is part of NOAA’s Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) field campaign.
AOML is partnering with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in their effort to deploy eight more Air-Launched Autonomous Micro Observer (ALAMO) floats in the path of Tropical Storm Erika. ALAMO profiling floats will be air-deployed through a chute in the belly of a US Air Force C-130 airplane. ALAMOs are a smaller Argo-style floats that will make 11 profile per day of the upper ocean down to 300m. They communicate via satellite and AOML will receive and conduct data processing to upload ocean temperature data onto the Global Telecommunication System so that it can be incorporated into ocean models. The ALAMO floats are manufactured by MRV Systems.
Photos taken from NOAA’s P-3 aircraft during Hurricane Hunter flights conducted on Saturday, August 22nd and Sunday, August 23rd inside Hurricane Danny. Peaking at Category 3 strength on Friday, August 21, Danny had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph as it churned in the Atlantic. Danny then weakened to a tropical depression due to interaction with high levels of wind shear and a mass of dry air in the Caribbean as it moved across the Lesser Antilles. The Hurricane Hunter missions profiled Danny’s wind structure with Tail Doppler Radar, conducted various projects in support of the Hurricane Research Division’s 2015 Field Program, and surveyed the ocean ahead of the storm in order to improve forecasts.