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Category Archives: Hurricane Research

Behind the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Wind Shear & Tropical Cyclones

With the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season underway, researchers are pointing to the strong presence of El Niño as the major driver suppressing the development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin. But what specific conditions are associated with El Niño that lead to a less than ideal environment for tropical cyclone development? Through research and observation, hurricane researchers know strong environmental wind shear is a major factor affecting potential hurricane development and growth. This hurricane season, AOML researchers are delving further into the relationship between wind shear and tropical cyclones.

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NOAA Researchers Will Use 2015 Season to Improve Hurricane Track and Intensity Forecasts

This hurricane season, NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research will work with NOAA’s National Weather Service to upgrade weather forecast models and conduct research with unmanned air and water craft to improve forecasts of hurricane track and intensity.A highlight this season is the upgrade of the operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast system (HWRF), an advanced hurricane prediction model. This year’s version now has increased the resolution from 3 to 2 kilometers, and will use tail Doppler radar data collected from the NOAA P-3 and G-IV hurricane hunter aircraft to improve the storm representation within the model.

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Hurricane Danny & Tropical Storm Erika Provide Wealth of Research Opportunities for the 2015 Hurricane Field Program

AOML’s hurricane researchers conducted a number of field activities in August that provided data and critical insights into two Atlantic tropical cyclones, Danny and Erika. The two storms enabled researchers to test new instruments in support of the 2015 Hurricane Field Program and conduct research that will benefit future forecasts. Among the highlights were more than 15 successful manned and unmanned aircraft missions into Danny and Erika to collect and provide real-time data to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as evaluate forecast models.

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Research Reveals New Theory on Hurricane Formation and Intensification

How do hurricanes form, survive, and intensify? Hurricane scientists have long believed upper ocean temperatures are the key factor. AOML’s Dr. Joe Cione reveals a new theory, after observing 62 Atlantic hurricanes of a span of 32 years, suggesting this common theory may not be all that accurate. If his theory holds, it could have the potential to significantly improve hurricane intensity forecasts for the nation.

Dr. Cione found that in addition to ocean temperature, the near-surface air temperature and moisture around the hurricane are also essential energy requirements for sustaining a hurricane. These two variables often play an even more important role than ocean temperature.

This study assessed sea surface conditions in tropical systems, by monitoring the difference between dewpoint temperature and the sea surface temperature within the hurricane environment. When the dewpoint temperature was higher than the hurricane’s inner core’s sea surface temperature, the storms internal energy would decrease and weaken the hurricane.

Contrary to long held assumptions, results from this study show hurricanes can, and occasionally do, maintain intensity even when sea surface temperatures are at or below a threshold of 26°C.  In six percent of the cases Dr. Cione studied, ocean surface temperatures of 26°C or higher were not required for a hurricane to survive.

For hurricanes south of 29°N, near-surface atmospheric moisture was found to be the most important factor in maintaining a hurricane. In deep tropic storms between 10°N – 20°N, atmospheric environment in and around a storm was found to be the primary factor responsible for determining how much surface energy was drawn up out of the ocean and into the hurricane environment.

Dr. Cione’s research has potential to greatly impact intensity hurricane forecast models, which traditionally focus on ocean surface temperature. With this study showing the importance of moisture and atmospheric temperature for hurricane growth, scientists can now investigate how these factors impact hurricane intensity prediction.

Originally Published in February 2015 by Shannon Jones

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Gold Medal Awarded to HWRF

Congratulations to the Hurricane Research Division and the Hurricane Weather Research & Forecast System modeling team for receiving DOC Gold Medal and aiding in the advancement of hurricane intensity prediction.

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Atlantic Hurricane Season Remains Quiet As Predicted

The Atlantic hurricane season will officially end November 30, and will be remembered as a relatively quiet season as was predicted. Still, the season afforded NOAA scientists with opportunities to produce new forecast products, showcase successful modeling advancements, and conduct research to benefit future forecasts.

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Hurricane Edouard

Photos taken from a NOAA P-3 aircraft during a Hurricane Hunter flight inside Hurricane Edouard. NOAA successfully deployed a Coyote Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) directly into a hurricane from a NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter for the first time. During flights conducted September 15-17, 2014 out of Bermuda, scientists aboard the P-3 aircraft received meteorological data from the Coyote UAS in both the eye and surrounding eyewall of Hurricane Edouard.

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Hurricane Scientists Bring a New Wave of Technology to Improve Forecasts

Scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory are at the forefront of hurricane research to improve track and intensity forecasts. Every hurricane season they fly into storms, pour over observations and models, and consider new technological developments for how to enhance NOAA’s observing capabilities. The 2014 hurricane season will provide an opportunity to test some of the most advanced and innovative technologies, including unmanned hurricane hunter aircraft and sea gliders, which will help scientists better observe and, eventually, better predict a storm’s future activity.

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All Systems Are Go for NOAA to Release an Unmanned Aircraft Within a Hurricane

NOAA hurricane hunters are prepared to enter a new chapter in the use of unmanned aircraft systems: deploying an unmanned aircraft from an airplane inside a hurricane. Starting on September 14, 2014, NOAA’s hurricane hunting manned aircraft fleet will fly into position to observe any developing tropical systems in the Atlantic using this new tool. The Coyote unmanned aircraft will be the first unmanned aircraft deployed directly inside a hurricane from NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft. The goal of the Coyote is to collect temperature, pressure and wind observations below 3,000 feet, where manned aircraft can not fly safely.

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NOAA Launches Coyote UAS from P-3 Hurricane Hunter into Hurricane Edouard

NOAA successfully deployed unmanned aircraft from a NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter directly into a hurricane for the first time. NOAA deployed four Coyote Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Hurricane Edouard during flights conducted September 15-17, 2014 out of Bermuda. Scientists on board the P-3 aircraft received meteorological data from the Coyote UAS in both the eye and surrounding eyewall of Hurricane Edouard.

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