Constantly scanning the Earth’s surface, the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) allows scientists to both track tropical cyclones and forecast their progression. Used by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), and tropical cyclone centers in Japan, India, Australia and other countries, detailed microwave information provides data on the location, pattern and intensity of rainfall.
Complimenting the GMI is GPM’s Dual-requency Precipitation Radar (DPR), which turns two dimensional images into 3D by providing data on vertical rainfall structure. Scientists use DPR data to verify their tropical cyclone computer models. With the Ku-band and Ka-band, the DPR also measures light rainfall and falling snow, which account for a significant fraction of precipitation especially in middle and high latitudes. They also use the data to understand the distribution and movement of latent heat throughout the storm, particularly in the development of hot towers in the wall of clouds around the eye, which have been linked to rapid intensification. Together, GPM’s GMI and DPR data help scientists establish key characteristics of where, how and why rain falls in tropical cyclones as well as to better understand storm structure, intensity and the environmental conditions that cause them.
The GPM Mission observes tropical cyclone tracking and forecasting capabilities into the middle and high latitudes, covering the area from 65° S to 65°N — from about the Antarctic Circle to the Arctic Circle. This orbit provides new insight into how and why some tropical cyclones intensify and others weaken as they move from tropical to mid-latitude systems. The sensors onboard other satellites within the GPM constellation along with GPM Core Observatory sensors provide the detailed and global observations needed to estimate, monitor and forecast extreme rainfall that may trigger natural hazards, such as flooding or landslides.
TRMM Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Yasi on February 1st to 3rd, 2011 (left to right) as it made landfall over Queensland, Australia. TRMM’s PR and TMI instruments observed Cyclone Yasi as it developed from a Category 3 tropical cyclone on Feb. 1st (left), to a Category 5 event when it made landfall with wind gusts reported at up to 186 mph on Feb. 2nd (middle), and then finally as it began to dissipate on Feb. 3rd (right).
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Tropical Cyclone Articles
June marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. And although strong tropical cyclones are rare in June in the Atlantic, it will soon be the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Arthur, which became a tropical depression in very late June 2014 before hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane in early July. As with most storms early in the season, Arthur formed not from a tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa but from an old frontal boundary that stalls off the coast and provides a focus for shower and thunderstorm activity over warm water. With...
The 2019 Atlantic "hurricane season" is officially upon us and runs through November 30th. Did you know that GPM data play a fundamental role in the ability to monitor existing storm activity such as capturing the location and intensity of rainfall inside a storm, as well as improving weather and precipitation forecasts through assimilation of instantaneous precipitation information? Here are a few applications of GPM data used to study hurricanes and how the data was then used for decision-making.
Two days before Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory satellite captured a 3D view of the 2017 storm. At the time Maria was a category 1 hurricane. The 3-D view reveals the processes inside the hurricane that would fuel the storm’s intensification to a category 5 storm within 24 hours. For the first time in 360 degrees, this data visualization takes you inside the hurricane. The precipitation satellite has an advanced radar that measures both liquid and frozen water. The brightly colored dots show areas of rainfall, where green...
GPM passed over Tropical Storm Florence on September 7, 2018. As the camera moves in on the storm, DPR's volumetric view of the storm is revealed. A slicing plane moves across the volume to display precipitation rates throughout the storm. Shades of green to red represent liquid precipitation. Frozen precipitation is shown in cyan and purple. NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core observatory satellite flew over Tropical Storm Florence on September 7, 2018. At that time, the storm was experiencing strong wind shear. The storm later restrengthened into a hurricane.