Feature

NASA's Hurricane Page is All "a-Twitter"
11.17.09
 
NASA is all "a-Twitter" about its tropical cyclone research. In 2005, NASA created the NASA Hurricane and Tropical Cyclone Web page that covers NASA research on tropical cyclones around the world every day. That includes all ocean basins in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Now, NASA's Hurricane page has a companion "Twitter" page.

Screenshot of NASA's Hurricane Twitter page> View larger image
Image of the Twitter/NASAHurricane page. The page is updated every day on weekdays, sometimes on weekends, and covers all of the ocean basins around the world. Credit: NASA/Twitter.com
NASAHurricane on Twitter is updated daily and provides updates on the tropical cyclone happenings in various ocean basins. The primary source for "Tweets" is the daily storm updates from the NASA Hurricane page (www.nasa.gov/hurricane). The storm updates always include a NASA satellite image of a tropical cyclone, its most recent strength and location, and what the NASA satellite image reveals. If there are watches and warnings, the updates usually include them from the forecast source.

Separate Web features that highlight NASA hurricane research are also posted on the NASAHurricane Twitter site. The site also includes research features on topics such as the status of El Niňos and La Niňas, flood maps of areas inundated by tropical cyclones, hurricane videos, and more.

"The Twitter site is also used to provide up-to-the-minute updates, including watches and warnings, and background information," said Rob Gutro, manager of the NASA Hurricane Page at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Even though there may not be tropical activity in an ocean basin, people still want to know why and Twitter provides the vehicle to do that in an easy way on a daily basis." The Twitter NASAHurricane uses information from numerous forecast centers, including the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, and the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Image of Hurricane Mirinae> View larger image
The MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image of Typhoon Mirinae on October 30 at 1 p.m. Asia/Manila Time approaching the Philippines (left), part of which are already under a part of Mirinae's clouds. Credit: NASA MODIS Rapid Response
If there's a tropical wave that is has any potential for development, and it's cited by one of the forecast centers, NASAHurricane's Twitter will explain what it is, and where it is. For example, if there's a tropical wave in the Atlantic Ocean, Twitter provides the opportunity to highlight it and give a status on it.

NASA uses several satellites in hurricane research including Aqua, CloudSat, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite, Jason-1, the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2, Landsat, QuikScat, and Terra. NASA also creates images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites. NASA researches hurricanes and supplies some of the data from these satellites to NOAA, who forecast the storms. Each storm update on the NASA Hurricane page, and subsequently posted on Twitter, will reference what at least one of these satellites is seeing in a current tropical cyclone.

Using all of these satellites and their instruments and computer modeling, NASA scientists gather data on many factors that determine if a tropical cyclone may strengthen or weaken. Data include: storm and surface winds; sea surface heights and temperatures; rainfall intensity and area; lightning; cloud water; water vapor; cloud heights, extent of cloud cover and cloud temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure; cloud development; and size of the storm.

All of this research is housed on NASA's Hurricane/Tropical Cyclone Web page, which explains the research NASA does on tropical cyclones. It contains daily storm updates from storms around the world, videos, educator lesson plans, a storm archive since 2005, videos and animations, International Space Station cyclone videos, a live alerts feed on the Atlantic Basin from the National Hurricane Center, NASA hurricane missions, "About Hurricanes: background information," fact sheet, "Hurricanes in History," and education links.

"NASAHurricane Twitter is excited about communicating 'in-real-time' to hurricane enthusiasts worldwide," said climatologist Bill Patzert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif. "'Tweeting' the latest in NASA research and technology, developing hurricane events and impacts cranks up NASA's commitment to rapidly providing the most up-to-date and useful hurricane information to every level of society."

Related Link:

› NASA's Twitter page for hurricanes
 
 
Rob Gutro
Goddard Space Flight Center