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Know Your Earth 3.0: HS3
April 1, 2013

About Ed Zipser


Ed Zipser is a scientist who specializes in significant weather events such as thunderstorms, squall lines, flash floods and hurricanes. He is one of the co-investigators on the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission, a five-year effort specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin.

He works with real data, often obtained through extensive field campaigns, to improve basic understanding of storms ranging from ordinary thunderstorms to hurricanes. Ever since the early planning stages in 1987, Zipser served on the Science Team for the NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) satellite Tropical Rain Measuring Mission (TRMM). After the satellite was launched in late 1997 he was team leader for the TRMM ground validation field campaigns in Texas, Florida, Brazil and at the Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Zipser has had leading roles in more than 30 other programs, mainly over tropical oceans and continents. He has frequently served as one of the mission scientists on NASA's DC-8, most recently during the 2010 Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP).

Some of Zipser's current research is aimed at using TRMM and other satellite data to determine the global distribution of severe storms around the world. While it is clear that convection over tropical oceans sometimes includes the intense "hot towers" and convective bursts that may precede the formation of tropical cyclones, the strongest thunderstorms in the tropics are actually found over land, and are more common over Africa than over the Amazon forests. The reasons for these differences are still under investigation.Zipser has received numerous awards based on meteorological and space research efforts. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and has received its Editor's Award, a special award for his previous field program research, and named the society's Walter Orr Roberts Lecturer. Zipser currently serves on the editorial board for the Bulletin of the society. He holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree from Florida State University in meteorology, and a B.S. from Princeton University in aeronautical engineering. His previous positions include: senior scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), director of NCAR's Convective Storms Division, and the lead of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. He is currently a professor and former chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.


About HS3  [image-67][image-83]

HS3 is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. HS3 is motivated by hypotheses related to the relative roles of the large-scale environment and storm-scale internal processes. HS3 addresses the controversial role of the Saharan Air Layer in tropical storm formation and intensification as well as the role of deep convection in the inner-core region of storms. Addressing these science questions requires sustained measurements over several years due to the limited sampling opportunities in any given hurricane season. Past NASA hurricane field campaigns have all faced the same limitation: a relatively small sample of storms forming during the campaigns under a variety of scenarios and undergoing widely varying evolutions. The small sample is not just a function of tropical storm activity in any given year, but also the distance of storms from the base of operations.

HS3 will utilize two unmanned aircraft from NASA's Global Hawks program. One with an instrument suite geared toward measurement of the environment and the other with instruments suited to inner-core structure and processes. These aircraft are an ideal for investigating hurricanes because they are capable of flight altitudes greater than 55,000 feet (16,764 meters) and flight durations of up to 30 hours.

The environmental payload includes the scanning High-resolution Interferometer Sounder, expendable instruments known as "dropsondes," theTWiLiTE Doppler wind lidar and the Cloud Physics Lidar. The over-storm payload includes the HIWRAP conically scanning Doppler radar, the HIRAD multi-frequency interferometric radiometer and the HAMSR microwave sounder. Field measurements will take place for one month each during the hurricane seasons of 2012 to 2014.


Additional Links

 Know Your Earth 3.0
› HS3 Mission

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storm clouds under a drone belly
NASA's Global Hawk flew over Tropical Storm Nadine on Sept. 26, 2012 at 3 p.m. EDT and captured this photo from the camera located in the belly of the aircraft as it flew over the northern edge of the storm.
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Credit: NASA
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global hawk drone and clouds
NASA's Global Hawk headed away from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. on Sept. 19, 2012, and headed to investigate Tropical Storm Nadine near the Azores Islands in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Global Hawks are part of the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission.
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Credit: NASA/Wallops
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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator