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Scientists Have a New Scientific Tool for Hurricane Research On-Line
Compilation of images showing Gustav, Hanna, and Ike A large scale image from August 31, 2008 at 23 Zulu Time showing Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Tropical Storm Ike (in order from left to right) generated using the Hurricane Data Analysis Tool.
Credit: NASA
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Thumbnail of animated GIF showing Hurricane Ike An animation generated by the Hurricane Data Tool shows the 4km IR images every 30 minutes for 19 hours of Hurricane Ike on September 07, 2008. The animation shows Ike’s well developed eye and rotational movement as it moves to the West/Northwest.
Credit: NASA
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TRMM image of Tropical Storm Fay Tropical Storm Fay as viewed by the TRMM 3B42RT product on August 21, 2008.
Credit: NASA
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Graph showing water column density profile for Hurricane Florence AIRS Retrieval Support Product of Water Column Density Profile Along Track Images of Hurricane Florence seen in the Hurricane Portal Gallery Archive on Sept. 9, 2006.
Credit: NASA
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Scientists, students, and applications users seeking on-the-fly visualizations and analysis of hurricane-related satellite and model data can now get access to it via the NASA Hurricane Data Analysis tool on-line. This tool was created by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC), Greenbelt, Md., to help provide valuable hurricane research information, as well as easy data access to a collection of multi-sensor datasets.

Before selecting and downloading the tropical cyclone data of most interest, the NASA Goddard Hurricane Data Portal will assist researchers to investigate key parameters for tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons around the world.

The datasets available include:
  • Global Merged Infra-Red (IR) Brightness Temperature
  • Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation
  • TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) sea surface temperature (SST)
  • NASA's daily Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) ocean surface wind
  • NCEP Reanalysis sea level pressure (SLP) and NCEP Reanalysis winds.

The Hurricane Data Analysis Tool (formerly the TRMM QuikScat Analysis tool) allows users to look at a hurricane event with current functions that include area (latitude-longitude) and time series (area averaging) plots and their overlays, as well as animations. The website is located at: http://disc.gsfc.nasa.gov/hurricane/trmm_quikscat_analysis.shtml.

The website will also help researchers investigate other meteorological phenomena, such as, precipitation, monsoon events, mesoscale convective systems, etc.

Other features include:
  • Current tropical analysis maps and profiles from NASA satellites, such as atmospheric temperatures (at various levels) and rainfall totals ranging from 3 to 24 hours.
  • Surface pressure, relative humidity, water vapor and Geopotential Height from the NASA’s Aqua Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument.

"Geopotential height" is a vertical coordinate referenced to Earth's mean sea level — an adjustment to geometric height (elevation above mean sea level) using the variation of gravity with latitude and elevation.

The images are generated daily with the latest available data. Past hurricane events can be viewed in the archive that contains pre-generated images from multiple datasets including true-color images from MODIS and vertical profiles of water vapor and temperature from the AIRS instrument.

The NASA Hurricane Data Portal, a working on-line prototype, can be found at: http://disc.gsfc.nasa.gov/hurricane/. It is a result of a team effort led by Gregory Leptoukh of the NASA Goddard, together with NASA contractors, university scientists, and summer students.

"In addition, we plan to feature useful data from other NASA satellites that users have requested and are anxiously waiting for," said Steve Kempler, GES DISC Project Manager at Goddard. "Users will be able to access cloud properties from the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) that flies on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites; and look at animations of surface reflection, ozone and clouds from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) that flies on NASA's Aura satellite." OMI is an instrument supplied by The Netherlands.

The newest addition to the collection of available data products is the online visualization of the global merged-IR product. "With a web browser and few mouse clicks, users can produce visualizations for all 8 years and 4.5 TB (terabytes) of Merged InfraRed (IR) Brightness Temperature data and generate black and white IR imagery and animation without downloading any software and data," Kempler said.

More extensive interactive access to other data available at the GES DISC, as well as online visualization and statistical analysis, is available via the operational Giovanni system http://giovanni.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean may run from June 1 to November 30, but tropical cyclones happen around the world at all times during the year, so these tools will be very popular year 'round.

For NASA's on-line Hurricane Data Analysis Tool, visit:

For the NASA Goddard Hurricane Data Portal, visit:

For more information about the NASA GES DISC, visit:

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center