News ID: 192950
Published: 1022 GMT May 17, 2017

Hurricane's atmospheric gravity waves help predict the storm's path

Hurricane's atmospheric gravity waves help predict the storm's path

Meteorologists believe they've found a new way to track the intensity and trajectory of hurricanes by measuring the atmospheric gravity waves emanating from the storms' centers.

Atmospheric gravity waves are propelled in spirals outward from the center of large storm systems, UPI reported.

Scientists at the University of Miami and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Hurricane Research Division were able to analyze waves detected by a NOAA aircraft and research buoy.

They published their analysis in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Lead study author David Nolan, professor of atmospheric sciences at Miami, said, "These very subtle waves can sometimes be seen in satellite images.

"We were able to measure them in aircraft data and surface instruments."

Computer models suggested the strength of the waves is related to the maximum wind speeds at the hurricane's center.

The findings suggest relatively inexpensive instruments could monitor the strength and positioning of hurricanes by measuring the atmospheric waves, just as seismographs monitor tremors and earthquakes.

Jun Zhang, a scientist with the Hurricane Research Division, said, "The waves cause very weak upward and downward motions, which are recorded by the NOAA P3 as it flies through the storm.

“But we were surprised at how clearly the waves could be detected at the surface."

Hurricanes are monitored extensively by weather satellites, but space-based instruments can't always measure the hurricane's center.

Nolan added, "These waves can reveal processes occurring in the eyewall of a hurricane that are obscured from the view of satellites by thick clouds.

"Any additional measurements, even if they provide similar information as satellites, can lead to better forecasts."

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