GSD supports Hurricane Rapid Response with data visualization expertise

Image of hurricane track forecast.

August 1, 2016

ESRL’s Global Systems Division (GSD), the NOAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program, and NASA are working together to gather and deliver real-time data from UAS research flights over hurricanes. The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center operations will use that data to help improve hurricane track forecasts as part of the Hurricane Rapid Response program, which will run from August 1 - September 30.

This work is part of the NOAA Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) program. SHOUT tests the value of using unmanned aircraft to collect weather data in data-sparse areas to complement satellite coverage and studies the impact of their combined data on improved forecasts.

During targeted 24-hour missions, NASA’s Global Hawk UAS will fly above the hurricane down to near the ocean surface. GSD and GSD Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) researchers are developing a website to display the unique weather data collected by Global Hawk. Earlier this year, the team created a similar website to display UAS data collected during the El Nino Rapid Response field campaign—an effort that resulted in unprecedented observational records.

This data will stream live to and also into MADIS, the NWS operational data collection system. New this year, users will be able to study data from past flights including those from the El Nino Rapid Response and the Hurricane Rapid Response 2015 programs.

The systems deployed on Global Hawk include:

  • NOAA's Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS), developed by NCAR, will deploy dropsondes at altitudes up to 65,000ft and collect high vertical-resolution measurements of temperature, pressure, relative humidity, and wind speeds and direction.
  • HAMSR, (High Altitude Monolithic Microwave integrated Circuit (MMIC) Sounding Radiometer) provide measurements that can be used to infer 3-D distribution of temperature, water vapor, and cloud liquid water in the atmosphere, even in the presence of clouds.
  • NASA's HIWRAP (High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler) radar, will capture storm intensity factors: formation, structure, and intensification
  • Three HD cameras, one with an IR-sensor will provide unique view of the atmosphere and of target storms from the perspective of the Global Hawk

SHOUT will advance NOAA's ability to predict small-scale features that impact changes in storm intensity and will provide forecasters with the information they need to inform communities and build a more weather-ready nation.

For more information contact: Susan Cobb 303-497-5093