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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Tropical Cyclone Articles
Hurricane Simon appeared to be keeping a secret before it rapidly intensified on Oct. 4, but the Global Precipitation Measurement or GPM satellite was able uncover it. On Oct. 4 at 0940 UTC (5:40 a.m. EDT) observations by the Ku-band radar on the GPM satellite suggested that the Eastern Pacific Ocean's Hurricane Simon was hiding a very compact eyewall hours before the National Hurricane Center detected rapid intensification of Simon's surface winds. The GPM satellite was launched in February of this year and is managed by both NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
On September 15, 2014 (15:11 UTC) the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Core Observatory flew over Hurricane Odile as it made landfall on the Baja peninsula. At this point, Hurricane Odile is category 2 with maximum sustained winds at 98 miles per hour (mph) and gusts reaching 121 mph. Odile caused major damage to several Mexican beach resorts including Cabo San Lucas, and has the potential to cause flash flooding as far as Phoenix, Arizona. The GPM Core Observatory carries two instruments that show the location and intensity of rain and snow, which defines a crucial part...
The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory flew over Hurricane Arthur five times between July 1 and July 5, 2014. Arthur is the first tropical cyclone of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Core Observatory was launched Feb. 27 from Japan and began its prime mission on May 29, just in time for the hurricane season. The five GPM passes over Arthur are the first time a precipitation-measuring satellite has been able to follow a hurricane through its full life cycle with high-resolution...
During this year's Atlantic hurricane season, NASA is redoubling its efforts to probe the inner workings of hurricanes and tropical storms with two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft flying over storms and two new space-based missions. NASA's airborne Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel or HS3 mission, will revisit the Atlantic Ocean for the third year in a row. HS3 is a collaborative effort that brings together several NASA centers with federal and university partners to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. The flights from...