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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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...
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.
NASA's GPM satellite helped track Nate's progress through the Gulf of Mexico and also captured Nate's landfall on the north central Gulf Coast. This animation shows instantaneous rainrate estimates from NASA's Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM or IMERG product over North America and the surrounding waters beginning on Thursday October 5th when Nate first became a tropical storm near the northeast coast of Nicaragua in the western Caribbean until its eventual landfall on the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday October 8th. IMERG estimates precipitation from a combination of space-borne...
In 2017, we have seen four Atlantic storms rapidly intensify with three of those storms - Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria - making landfall. When hurricanes intensify a large amount in a short period, scientists call this process rapid intensification. This is the hardest aspect of a storm to forecast and it can be most critical to people's lives. While any hurricane can threaten lives and cause damage with storm surges, floods, and extreme winds, a rapidly intensifying hurricane can greatly increase these risks while giving populations limited time to prepare and evacuate.
The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission shows the rainfall distribution for two major storms churning in the Atlantic and Caribbean basins. The visualization shows Hurricane Jose as it continues to slowly move northward off the US East Coast east of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. At one time, Jose was a powerful category 4 border line category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds reported at 155 mph by the National Hurricane Center back on the 9th of September as it was approaching the northern Leeward Islands. Jose passed northeast of the Leeward Islands as a category 4 storm...