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Know Your Earth 2.0: Hurricanes
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See the bigger picture of the inside of hurricanes.

CloudSat and CALIPSO give us new, 3-D perspectives on Earth's clouds and aerosols that are helping to answer questions about how they form, evolve and affect our weather, climate, water supply and air quality. Employing revolutionary measurement technologies, they probe Earth's atmosphere as never before, fueling discoveries that will improve our weather and climate forecasts, while helping public policy makers and business leaders make more informed, long-term environmental decisions about public health and the economy.

CloudSat and CALIPSO have gathered the first statistics on global vertical cloud structure, including overlapping clouds, to create three-dimensional maps of Earth's cloud cover. The satellites measured the percentage of clouds giving off rain at any given time (13 percent) to better understand how efficiently clouds convert condensed water into rain. They have monitored nighttime storms at Earth's poles from space for the first time. And it has revealed connections between storms at the poles and very high clouds that help create ozone. By viewing this complete picture of how clouds operate both inside and out for the first time, and monitoring it on a global scale, CloudSat is offering climatologists the data they need to create better models of Earth's climate -- and help predict what the surface of our planet will probably look like in the future.

Because the satellite measurements are so complementary — CALIPSO see the high, thin clouds and aerosol layers, while CloudSat sees the thick, moisture-filled clouds — they are perfect for looking at complex cloud systems that make up hurricanes. CloudSat and CALIPSO data provide analysts and forecasters a view of hurricanes and typhoons that has not been available before. Their data provide a view of the internal dynamics of these storms that gives us important information about the intensity, rainfall rates, and internal temperature fields of these storms, all of which will help forecasters better predict how the storms will intensify or weaken, and what the potential impact might be from rainfall and wind.

Additional Information

Close-up view of Hurricane Isabel taken by one of the Expedition 7 crewmembers on the International Space Station. In addition to the station's cameras, NASA satellites provided imagery of the storm, as it approached the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Debris from port facility strewn throughout Gulfport, Miss.

A ground view of the devastation from Hurricane Andrew in Pinewoods Villa, Fla.

Boats tossed around like kindling at a marina near New Orleans, La. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Related Visualizations

› Tropical Storm Debby as the A-train flies over on August 24, 2006.

› Hurricane Bill nears Cuba in 2009. A vertical profile from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder satellite (CALIPSO) is overlaid on an image from the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Credit: NASA

› The first Atlantic Tropical Storm for 2008, Arthur, was recorded on May 31. ATDD and Giovanni can produce CloudSat and CALIPSO profiles previews in the Google Earth's KMZ format.

› CloudSat Captures Hurricane Daniel's Transformation

Other Resources

› NASA’s Hurricane Resource Page
› The CALIPSO Mission Page
› NASA's Hurricane page on Facebook
› MY NASA DATA 'Hurricane Frequency and Intensity'