NASA analyzes tropical cyclone Herold's water vapor concentration

March 18, 2020

When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Southern Indian Ocean on Mar. 18, it gathered water vapor data that showed wind shear was adversely affecting Tropical Cyclone Herold.

In general, wind shear is a measure of how the speed and direction of winds change with altitude. Tropical cyclones are like rotating cylinders of winds. Each level needs to be stacked on top each other vertically in order for the storm to maintain strength or intensify. Wind shear occurs when winds at different levels of the atmosphere push against the rotating cylinder of winds, weakening the rotation by pushing it apart at different levels. Strong wind shear from the northwest is battering Herold and pushing the strongest storms away from the center of circulation. Northwesterly winds affecting the storm are estimated between 25 and 30 knots (29 to 35 mph /46 to 56 kph)

What Water Vapor Reveals

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Herold on Mar. 18 at 5:40 a.m. EDT (0940 UTC) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument gathered water vapor content and temperature information. The MODIS data showed highest concentrations of water vapor and coldest cloud top temperatures were pushed about 48 nautical miles southeast of the center of circulation.

MODIS data showed coldest cloud top temperatures were as cold as or colder than minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 56.6 degrees Celsius) in those storms. Storms with cloud top temperatures that cold have the capability to produce heavy rainfall.

Water vapor analysis of tropical cyclones tells forecasters how much potential a storm has to develop. Water vapor releases latent heat as it condenses into liquid. That liquid becomes the clouds and thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone. Temperature is important when trying to understand how strong storms can be. The higher the cloud tops, the colder and the stronger the storms.

Herold's Status

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center or JTWC noted that Herold's maximum sustained winds had dropped significantly since the previous 24 hours and the storm weakened from hurricane-force to tropical storm force. Maximum sustained winds were near 55 knots. Herold was centered near latitude 22.7 degrees south and longitude 66.1 degrees east, about 516 nautical miles east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius. Herold was moving to the southeast.

JTWC forecasters expect Herold to continue moving southeast and further away from land areas while continuing to weaken. Forecasters noted that the storm is becoming subtropical but could dissipate within a day or two before it completes that transition.

What is a Sub-tropical Storm?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a sub-tropical storm is a low-pressure system that is not associated with a frontal system and has characteristics of both tropical and extratropical cyclones. Like tropical cyclones, they are non-frontal that originate over tropical or subtropical waters, and have a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center.

Unlike tropical cyclones, subtropical cyclones derive a significant proportion of their energy from baroclinic sources (atmospheric pressure), and are generally cold-core in the upper troposphere, often being associated with an upper-level low-pressure area or an elongated area or trough of low pressure.

NASA's Aqua satellite is one in a fleet of NASA satellites that provide data for hurricane research.

Tropical cyclones/hurricanes are the most powerful weather events on Earth. NASA's expertise in space and scientific exploration contributes to essential services provided to the American people by other federal agencies, such as hurricane weather forecasting.
-end-
By Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.