For the first time, real-time weather data taken by the NOAA-operated unmanned NASA Global Hawk aircraft went directly into one of NOAA’s operational hurricane forecast models to assist in the forecast of Tropical Storm Erika.
“NOAA’s National Weather Service had enough confidence in the data to use them in one of its operational hurricane forecast models,” said Robbie Hood, director of NOAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program. “This is a first step toward evaluating what kind of difference the data can make.”
Ground crews prepare NASA’s remotely piloted Global Hawk for Wednesday's flight over Tropical Storm Erika, located just east of the Leeward Islands, as part of NOAA-led mission Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT). The Global Hawk provides a unique vantage point for weather observations because it flies higher and longer than any manned aircraft. It allows data collection from 60,000 feet, an altitude nearly twice as high as manned aircraft, to the ocean surface. (Photo credit: NASA/Allison Stancil)
The NASA Global Hawk landed Thursday morning at 6:43 AM ET, August 27, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, after flying the first mission of the hurricane season over and around Tropical Storm Erika. The flight is part of the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology or SHOUT mission, which builds on earlier collaborative research led by NASA and offers NOAA scientists an opportunity to “test drive” the Global Hawk as a potential new meteorological observing tool for routine operational use.
The mission included successful dropsonde deployments with the Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS), which has been used previously for hurricane research and operations.
The National Weather Service was able to successfully assimilate this dropsonde data of temperature, pressure, moisture, wind speed and direction from the tropical storm into the operational model. This first time event provided real-time information to the hurricane forecasters and continues to build on previous research.
The SHOUT mission is closely coordinated with NOAA’s ongoing hurricane field program, which also provided dropsonde, flight level and tail Doppler radar data from the NOAA P-3 and G-IV manned aircraft for the HWRF operational model. All aircraft will continue to observe, measure, and transmit data about Tropical Storm Erika in an effort to improve forecast guidance as the storm moves closer to the United States mainland.
SHOUT is funded in part by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, passed by Congress in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Sandy. For more information on SHOUT go to: http://uas.noaa.gov/shout/.
The latest forecast can be found at: www.emc.ncep.noaa.gov/HWRF