Nav: Home

Scientists study atmospheric waves radiating out of hurricanes

May 15, 2017

MIAMI--Researchers believe they have found a new way to monitor the intensity and location of hurricanes from hundreds of miles away by detecting atmospheric waves radiating from the centers of these powerful storms.

In a new study, scientists from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented direct observations of the waves, obtained by NOAA aircraft flying in hurricanes and by a research buoy located in the Pacific Ocean. The waves, known as atmospheric gravity waves, are produced by strong thunderstorms near the eye and radiate outward in expanding spirals.

"These very subtle waves can sometimes be seen in satellite images," said David Nolan, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and lead author of the study. "We were able to measure them in aircraft data and surface instruments."

In addition, says Nolan, computer simulations performed at the UM Center for Computational Science can reproduce the waves, showing that the wave strengths can be related to the maximum wind speed in the core of the storm. These findings suggest that hurricanes and typhoons could be monitored from hundreds of miles away with relatively inexpensive instruments, such as barometers and anemometers, much like earthquakes from around the world are monitored by seismometers.

The researchers analyzed data obtained from 25 different penetrations by NOAA P3 aircraft into five hurricanes in 2003 and 2004, as well as data from the Extreme Air-Sea Interaction (EASI) buoy deployed in the Pacific Ocean by UM Rosenstiel School scientists in 2010.

"The waves cause very weak upward and downward motions, which are recorded by the NOAA P3 as it flies through the storm," said Jun Zhang of the Hurricane Research Division, a veteran of many hurricane flights. "But we were surprised at how clearly the waves could be detected at the surface."

"Of course, hurricanes are very well observed by satellites. But these waves can reveal processes occurring in the eyewall of a hurricane that are obscured from the view of satellites by thick clouds," said Nolan. "Any additional measurements, even if they provide similar information as satellites, can lead to better forecasts."
-end-
The study, titled "Spiral Gravity Waves Radiating from Tropical Cyclones," was published April 30, 2017 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The National Science Foundation (grant #AGS1132646) and NOAA Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (grant #NA14NWS4680028) provided funding for the study.

Typhoon Meranti GW Animation VIDEO: https://youtu.be/VaNK5dckRcQ

About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, visit: http://www.rsmas.miami.edu.

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

Related Hurricane Articles:

Hurricane resilience in the Bahamas
A new Stanford-led study provides information on how to invest in natural coastal ecosystems that the Bahamian government, community leaders and development banks are applying in post-disaster recovery and future storm preparation in the Bahamas.
NASA finds a weaker hurricane Juliette
Hurricane Juliette has been weakening and NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite provided a look at the strength of storms within.
NASA sees Dorian become a hurricane
NASA's Terra satellite passed over the northwestern Atlantic Ocean as Dorian reached hurricane status during the afternoon of August 28, 2019.
Landslides triggered by Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 and triggered more than 40,000 landslides in at least three-fourths of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities.
NASA sees Atlantic's Leslie become a hurricane
NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Hurricane Leslie that revealed strong storms circled the center.
NASA sees Walaka becoming a powerful Hurricane
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed over the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and analyzed Walaka's rainfall and cloud structure as it was strengthening into a hurricane.
NASA finds a weaker Hurricane Olivia
Infrared data from NASA's Terra satellite revealed that the area of coldest cloud topped thunderstorms has dropped from the previous day, indicating weaker uplift and less-strong storms
NASA looks at heavy rainmaker in Hurricane Lane
Cloud top temperatures provide scientists with an understanding of the power of a tropical cyclone.
Hector weakens but remains Category 4 Hurricane
Hurricane Hector has weakened slightly but still remains a robust Category Four storm at present.
UA forecast: Below-average hurricane activity
The UA hurricane forecasting model, which has proved to be extremely accurate over the years, is calling for fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic this year on the heels of a devastating 2017.
More Hurricane News and Hurricane Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.