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NASA team awaits next hurricane

Thunderstorm studies continue

Sept. 10, 1998:(this is the 15th in a series of stories covering the ongoing CAMEX mission to hunt hurricane data in a way not done since the 50s. Other stories are linked in below.)

With no hurricanes on the horizon, a NASA team is studying thunderstorms and other weather effects around Florida - and getting ready for the next big storm.

Right: These four strip images depict a thunderstorm with a large ice core and a cirrus anvil cloud as seen in four radio frequencies by the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer aboard the ER-2. (Links to 800x800, 108KB JPG)

"We've just been flying TEFLUN missions with the ER-2 and Citation," said Robbie Hood, the mission scientist for the Convection and Moisture Experiment (CAMEX-3). Because hurricanes can't be scheduled, the CAMEX-3 campaign was integrated with the Texas and Florida Underflight (TEFLUN) campaign to measure weather conditions as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite flies overhead.

"We still have other missions," Hood said, including water vapor around Andros Island, Bahamas, where NASA has a important weather station, and convection development and stratiform rain clouds over Florida and the Gulf of Mexico area.

The CAMEX-3 team - comprising scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and universities - had a dynamic opening in August with flights over and through Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, and Earl.

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"We've had three hurricanes so far, so we feel pretty good about that," she said.

Right: This cross-section of a thunderstorm was produced by the ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP) on Tuesday. (Links to 522x609-pixel, 196KB JPG).

The experiment continues through Sept. 23, and the team has enough flight time left for two or three flights, Hood said. How they will be used will be decided as the weather develops, but Hood would like to give priority to moisture inflow ahead of hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the scientists are rechecking their instruments to be ready for the next hurricane.


Note: More details are available in the NASA press release describing CAMEX-3. Check back as hurricane season progresses. We will post science updates as the campaign develops.

PIX: High resolution scans of 35mm camera photos from the CAMEX-3 campaign are available from Public Affairs Office at NASA headquarters. Please call the NASA Headquarters Photo Department at 202-358-1900, or contact Bill Ingalls at bingalls@hq.nasa.gov.


CAMEX Series Headlines

August 12: Overview CAMEX story , describes the program in detail.
August 13: CAMEX maiden flight , for calibration of TRMM satellite instruments
August 14: CAMEX test flights , CAMEX flies over tropical storm weather in successful calibration run
August 18: CAMEX aircraft make second flight with TRMM , second calibration run for TRMM
August 20: CAMEX may get first chance at a tropical storm , later this week 
August 21: Here comes Bonnie! , CAMEX scheduled to fly over T.S. Bonnie 
August 22: West by Northwest , CAMEX team may have to evacuate to Georgia 
August 24: Eye-to-eye, and Bonnie winks, CAMEX team makes first flight through eye 
August 25: Snow in August, Bonnie surprises the hurricane team 
August 26: Camera of many colors Hurricane hunters using advanced scanner to peer into storms  
August 28: Preparing for Danielle NASA team takes break as Bonnie fades away
August 31: Quite a Windfall Hurricane team completes first half of unique science campaign. Includes listing of August flights and aircraft and spacecraft used in CAMEX-3.
September 2: Bonnie Cuts a Towering FigureSatellite radar shows mountainous cloud chimney
September 4: Hurricane team studies EarlFour aircraft probe storm
September 10: NASA team awaits next hurricane(this story)
September 16: Hurricane season passing its prime
Thunderstorm studies continue as a new hurricane candidate wends its way from Africa.
September 18: Two new storms brewing for hurricane research team Scientists fly 4 out of 5 days, clear air sampled over the Bahamas, oceanic convection data collected east of Cape Canaveral
September 21:The last hurricane - CAMEX team wrapping up campaign with flights into Georges
September 23: Hurricane Georges puts on a light show- CAMEX team treated to purple sprites and weird lightning

NCAR has an extensive writeup on the GPS dropsondes used in CAMEX-3 and other atmospheric campaigns.

A new study - not related to CAMEX-3 - by the Arizona State University suggests a link between hurricanes in the northwest Atlantic and air pollution.

CAMEX-3 - the third Convection and Moisture Experiment - is an interagency project to measure hurricane dynamics at high altitude, a method never employed before over Atlantic storms. From this, scientists hope to understand better how hurricanes are powered and to improve the tools they use to predict hurricane intensity.

An overview story (Aug. 12, 1998) describes the program in detail. The study is part of NASA's Earth Science enterprise to better understand the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment. A midterm story (Aug. 31, 1998) reviews the first month of operations and the windfall of data.

Measuring distance and speed

Because meteorology and aeronautics first used modified nautical charts, their data bases are in nautical miles and knots (nautical miles per hour). In these stories, we use Standard International ("metric") units first, and give more familiar measurements in English units and the original measurements in nautical units. Because of rounding and because the wind speeds originally are expressed in knots, km/h speeds to knots may be slightly different from the numbers in the story.

Standard International Units: 
km - kilometer (1 km = 0.62 smi = 0.54 nmi) 
km/h - kilometers per hour 
English (or US) units: 
mi, or smi - miles (statute miles; 1 smi = 0.87 nmi = 1.61 km)
mph - (statute) miles per hour 
Nautical units: 
nmi - nautical miles (1 nmi = 1.15 smi= 1.85 km) 
kts - knots (nautical miles per hour) 
 

Web Links
CAMEX-3 home page contains links to daily flight operations and instrument descriptions.
Lightning Imaging Sensor aboard the TRMM satellite observes lightning from above the clouds - and my lead to better warnings on the ground.
MACAWS uses the Doppler effect (red and blue shifts) to measure wind velocity.
SPARCLE is a Space Shuttle experiment set for 2001 to demonstrate laser wind measurement from space.

More web links 
  • More Space Science Headlines - NASA research on the web 
  • The Marshall Newsroom - more information on this and other news from the Marshall Space Flight Center 
  • NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Information on Earth Science missions, etc. 
  • Global Hydrology and Climate Center studies the global water cycle and its effect on climate. 
  • National Hurricane Center carries the latest tracking information on tropical storms and hurricanes. It also has lots of historical data and images, including hi-resolution copies of the pictures above of damage by Hurricane Andrew
  • The Public Use of Remote Sensing Data at Goddard Space Flight Center has high-resolution images of Fran (including the original of the image used in this story), Andrew, and other hurricanes and of other events seen from space.
  • Ocean Remote Sensing Group at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory