As the Yalobusha River rose around Greenwood, Mississippi, during a major rainstorm in late February, scientists from the Northern Gulf Institute at Mississippi State University deployed a small unmanned plane that took high-resolution images of rising waters and beamed them back in real time to NOAA weather forecasters.
In one of our nation’s most relentless hurricane seasons, NOAA research scientists were on the front lines of gathering key data used to help produce forecasts that saved lives and protected property. They also worked behind the scenes pushing the frontiers of weather forecasting skill in storm track, wind speeds and rainfall amounts by running and refining experimental forecast models for the future. And they tested new drones in air and water to assess their ability to gather data that can improve hurricane prediction.
The NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft touched down Friday morning at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast where NOAA and NASA scientists are preparing it for flights over Atlantic hurricanes.
Measuring variations in gravity helps scientists create a height measurement system based on where water will flow. These measurements will help prepare for floods, sea level rise, and other emergencies, making our coastal communities more resilient, and aid a number of diverse industries such as agriculture, construction, transportation, and urban planning.
With the August 22 arrival of the NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft on Virginia’s eastern shore, scientists and pilots are now ready to start the NOAA-led mission to improve hurricane forecasts of track and intensity using data collected by the Global Hawk during the season’s hurricanes.
For the last five years, NOAA has teamed up with NASA to fly NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to get an inside look at how hurricanes form and intensify over the Atlantic. The NASA-led project called the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission is demonstrating the ability of the Global Hawk to fly over hurricanes to gather continuous weather data on flights that are longer in duration than possible with manned aircraft. In the next three years, NOAA will take the next step with the Global Hawk, leading a new experiment and continuing its important collaboration with NASA. Drawing on technology and expertise honed in the current mission, NOAA will assess the feasibility of regular operations of Global Hawk to improve day-to-day forecasts of severe storms forming over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
This summer, NOAA scientists and partners are launching a number of new unmanned aircraft and water vehicles to collect weather information as part of a coordinated effort to improve hurricane forecasts.
Several of these research projects and other NOAA led efforts to improve hurricane forecasting were made possible, in part, because of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The act was passed by Congress and signed by the President in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It provides $60 billion in funding to multiple agencies for disaster relief. NOAA received $309.7 million to provide technical assistance to those states with coastal and fishery impacts from Sandy, and to improve weather forecasting and weather research and predictive capability to help future preparation, response and recovery from similar events.
Researchers from NASA, NOAA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and others are launching a three-year mission to better understand what makes hurricanes intensify or weaken, and what factors steer the destructive storms.
NOAA researchers will be using several innovative tools, techniques, and research results during the 2012 hurricane season to continue to improve hurricane forecasting. Read our 2012 hurricane research news briefs to learn more.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.