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Multi-Agency Research Understanding Hurricane Genesis and Intensification Captured in a TV Documentary August 30, 2012

Posted by admin in : Chemical and Biological Physics (CBP), Earth and Planetary Systems Sciences (EPSS), Fluid and Plasma Physics (FPP), History, Policy and Education (HPE) , trackback Bookmark and Share

As Hurricane Isaac battered the greater New Orleans area on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, scientists flying in NOAA aircraft took important data that will be used to increase the knowledge of these storms that threaten coastal and island populations. With support from NOAA, NASA and several other agencies, Howard University researchers also take storm data that they combine with field data taken in Senegal and Cape Verde on African Easterly Waves (AEWs) to build a complete understanding of the genesis and intensification of hurricanes. The majority of Atlantic forming hurricanes evolve AEWs, which are elongated areas of relatively low atmospheric pressure that are convectively transported as an extended wave train.

During 2010, NOAA aircraft took part in a multi-agency field campaign to study the processes of hurricane genesis and intensification. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX), the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics (PREDICT) and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Genesis and Intensification Processes (GRIP) worked in a coordinated manner with bases in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, FL, Barbados and St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Aircraft measurements included: two P3 and G-IV, the DC-8, G-V, WB-57 and Global Hawk with additional data from the Air Force hurricane hunters during the months of August and September.

Researchers at Howard University took additional dynamic, thermodynamic and chemical ground measurements in Sao Vicente, Cape Verde, Dakar, Senegal and Barbados in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia e Geofisica (INMG), Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) and Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH). In addition graduate students and former graduates participated in the aircraft field programs.

Funding from NSF to document the 2010 field campaign was secured to provide the public with a first hand experience on aircraft and ground measurements. The documentary includes a subset of more than 20 hours of interviews with scientists, students, pilots and emergency managers. The documentary also includes a flight into the eye of Hurricane Earl, which reached a peak intensity of Category 4 (125 knots) and paralleled the US east coast.

Howard University scientist and students followed African Easterly Waves from West Africa (Senegal) and the Eastern Atlantic (Cape Verde) downstream to the Caribbean (Barbados). Ozone measurements were also gathered to examine how intensifying hurricanes produce ozone (O3) naturally from lightning.

Related Links:
Hurricane Season Brings Focus on Howard University Researchers
Hurricanes: Science and Society
Hurricane Irene: Using physics to forecast
Did warm waters fuel Hurricane Katrina?
Howard University NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences

The documentary was produced and narrated by Dr. Aziza Baccouche will air in August of 2012 on Howard University’s WHUT-TV Public Television Station.

Texas Tech PhD Student Amber Reynolds stands next to the Global Hawk in preparation for NASA GRIP flight.Texas Tech PhD Student Amber Reynolds stands next to the Global Hawk in preparation for NASA GRIP flight.

Howard University PhD student Yaitza Luna-Cruz aboard the DC-8 taking cloud microphysics measurements.Howard University PhD student Yaitza Luna-Cruz aboard the DC-8 taking cloud microphysics measurements.

The eye of Hurricane Earl as viewed from the NASA DC-8 aircraft. The eye of Hurricane Earl as viewed from the NASA DC-8 aircraft.

Students Ashford Reyes and Adriel Valentine prepare to release a ozonesondes from Barbados.Students Ashford Reyes and Adriel Valentine prepare to release a ozonesondes from Barbados.

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