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Studying Storms from Air and Space

Studying Storms from Air and Space

Technology we’ve developed is helping study the movement of storms.  

From satellites that can slice through a hurricane with 3-D vision to computer models of gale force winds, scientists now have unprecedented ways of viewing extreme weather.

This August, we’re sending an unmanned aircraft called a Global Hawk to study hurricanes. This mission is called the “East Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes,” or EPOCH. It will fly over developing tropical storms to investigate how they progress and intensify. 

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The three instruments aboard this Global Hawk aircraft will map out 3-D patterns of temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation and wind speed as well as the role of the East Pacific Ocean in global cyclone formation. These measurements will help scientists better understand the processes that control storm intensity and the role of the East Pacific Ocean in global cyclone formation.

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To better understand hurricane formation and intensity, scientists also utilize models and other observations.

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Satellites such as our Global Precipitation Measurement Mission, or GPM, and computer models can analyze key stages of storm intensification.  

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In September 2016, GPM captured Hurricane Matthew’s development from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane in less than 24 hours.  

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Extreme rainfall was seen in several stages of the storm, causing significant flooding and landslides when it passed by Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

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By combining model and observed data, scientists can analyze storms like never before. They can also better understand how hurricanes and other powerful storms can potentially impact society.

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