Hurricane season: How NASA tracks the dangerous storms



With an “above-normal” Atlantic hurricane season underway, researchers at NASA have partnered with the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and different organizations to offer crucial forecast knowledge that would doubtlessly save lives.

Whereas astronauts on board the Worldwide Area Station are in a position to observe and take images from a median altitude of roughly 250 miles, georeferencing the photographs to be used by hazard groups on the bottom, new know-how has superior efforts to help climate prediction and catastrophe aid.


In August 2020, the company utilized satellite tv for pc knowledge to monitor Hurricane Laura, which made landfall alongside the Louisiana and Texas shoreline, bringing winds at speeds of as much as 150 mph.

NASA’s Earth Utilized Sciences Disasters Program processed and analyzed that knowledge earlier than, throughout and after the hurricane made landfall with a purpose to create flood maps, find broken areas and assess coastal erosion.

When Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in 2017, NASA researchers have been in a position to map which neighborhoods have been nonetheless with out energy after the storm hit, along with the demographics and traits of the areas with the longest look ahead to energy to be restored.

Final month, NOAA predicted a chance of 13 to 20 whole named storms in 2021, with six to 10 more likely to grow to be hurricanes and three to 5 more likely to grow to be main hurricanes.

Many residents are nonetheless recovering from 2020’s record-breaking season, which noticed 30 named storms, together with 13 hurricanes and 6 main hurricanes. 

Final yr, NASA’s Disasters Program supplied knowledge to teams in coastal states to establish areas most impacted by hurricanes, and NOAA knowledge reveals Alabama, Florida and North Carolina as targets. 


Methods like distant sensing assist to find vulnerabilities in communities threatened by local weather change, aiding native and federal officers in flood and wildfire response. NASA used the strategy to observe a spike in aerosols from the devastating 2019 and 2020 Australian wildfires.

Earlier than the subsequent massive storm hits, NASA and NOAA have joint satellite tv for pc missions to trace storms in pure shade and different wavelengths, and NASA’s World Precipitation Measurement mission’s radar and microwave devices can see inside hurricanes in 3D. 

Utilizing the instruments, NASA can measure rainfall and observe the precipitation construction of the storm, serving to scientists to raised perceive dangers like extreme flooding and the system’s development.

Members of NASA’s Southern California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have additionally developed a machine-learning mannequin with a purpose to extra precisely detect quickly intensifying or “stalled” storms.

As well as, scientists have used databases like NASA’s Earth Observing System Information and Info System (EOSDIS) to measure floor temperatures and humidity ranges – key parts of the energy and formation of storms. 

In Could, NASA introduced it will design a brand new set of Earth-focused missions to offer crucial data relating to local weather, catastrophe mitigation and bettering agricultural processes.


The Earth System Observatory satellites would work in tandem with others to “create a 3D view of Earth,” specializing in aerosols, clouds and precipitation, mass change, floor biology and geology and floor deformation and alter.

NASA mentioned one of many first initiatives included a partnership with the Indian Area Analysis Organisation (ISRO) to measure modifications within the Earth’s floor of lower than half of an inch utilizing two completely different radar programs.


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