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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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...
The GPM core observatory satellite had an exceptional view of hurricane Irma's eye when it flew above it on September 5, 2017 at 12:52 PM AST (1652 UTC). This visualization shows a rainfall analysis that was derived from GPM's Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) data. Irma was approaching the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of about 178 mph (155 kts). This made Irma a dangerous category five hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Intense rainfall is shown within Irma's nearly circular eye.
At 1 PM EDT (1700 UTC) on September 5, 2017, the radar on the Global Precipitation Measuring Mission (GPM) satellite captured this 3D view of the heat engine inside of category-5 Hurricane Irma. Under the central ring of clouds that circles the eye, water that had evaporated from the ocean surface condenses, releases heat, and powers the circling winds of the hurricane. The radar on the GPM satellite is able to estimate how much water is falling as precipitation inside of the hurricane, which serves as a guide to how much energy is being released inside the hurricane's central "heat...
The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory captured these images of Hurricane Harvey at 11:45 UTC and 21:25 UTC on the 27th of August nearly two days after the storm made landfall as it was meandering slowly southeast at just 2 mph (~4 kph) near Victoria, Texas west of Houston. The image shows rain rates derived from GPM's GMI microwave imager (outer swath) and dual-frequency precipitation radar or DPR (inner swath) overlaid on enhanced visible/infrared data from the GOES-East satellite. Harvey's cyclonic circulation is still quite evident in the visible/infrared clouds, but...