Author Information

Sofia M. de SoloFollow

Is this project an undergraduate, graduate, or faculty project?

Undergraduate

individual

10-minute Oral Presentation

Authors' Class Standing

Sofia de Solo, Senior

Lead Presenter's Name

Sofia de Solo

Faculty Mentor Name

Daniel Halperin

Abstract

Accurate measurements of surface observations are necessary for development of numerical weather prediction models and forecasts. However, data are sparse in vast areas of the ocean and observations are limited to an insufficient amount of buoys, ships, and aircraft measurements. This is especially true during the development, tracking, and forecasting of tropical cyclones. To assist with data collection and numerical weather prediction, the National Weather Service (NWS) tasks US Air Force WC130-J and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) WP-3D planes to fly through areas of interest to collect data. These planes have multiple instruments to collect this valuable data, including the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR), dropsondes, and aircraft mounted radar.

Arguably the most important data collected from these flights is the surface wind speed, which is measured using the SFMR. The SFMR is an airborne passive microwave radiometer mounted to the wings of all penetrating aircraft. The downward pointing antenna measures brightness temperature of the sea surface using six C-band microwave channels, with frequencies between 4.6 and 7.2 GHz. These brightness temperature readings, along with sea surface temperature measurements, are used to calculate wind speeds at the surface. These data are valuable for determining tropical cyclone intensity and wind radii which ultimately is used for both research and emergency management.

This study investigates the relationship between flight level and surface wind speeds in tropical cyclones from 1997-2018 using data from both NOAA and Air Force SFMRs. The study will include a statistical analysis between wind speeds both aloft and at the surface in an attempt to create a relationship between the two levels. Analysis will be done with storms of different magnitudes, flight levels, as well as with different versions of the SFMR. Applying this relationship to non-SFMR equipped aircraft could help improve the data gaps currently challenging modern day hurricane forecasting.

Did this research project receive funding support (Spark or Ignite Grants) from the Office of Undergraduate Research?

No

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Determining a Relationship between Flight Level and Surface Wind Speeds in Tropical Cyclones using Weather Reconnaissance Data

Accurate measurements of surface observations are necessary for development of numerical weather prediction models and forecasts. However, data are sparse in vast areas of the ocean and observations are limited to an insufficient amount of buoys, ships, and aircraft measurements. This is especially true during the development, tracking, and forecasting of tropical cyclones. To assist with data collection and numerical weather prediction, the National Weather Service (NWS) tasks US Air Force WC130-J and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) WP-3D planes to fly through areas of interest to collect data. These planes have multiple instruments to collect this valuable data, including the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR), dropsondes, and aircraft mounted radar.

Arguably the most important data collected from these flights is the surface wind speed, which is measured using the SFMR. The SFMR is an airborne passive microwave radiometer mounted to the wings of all penetrating aircraft. The downward pointing antenna measures brightness temperature of the sea surface using six C-band microwave channels, with frequencies between 4.6 and 7.2 GHz. These brightness temperature readings, along with sea surface temperature measurements, are used to calculate wind speeds at the surface. These data are valuable for determining tropical cyclone intensity and wind radii which ultimately is used for both research and emergency management.

This study investigates the relationship between flight level and surface wind speeds in tropical cyclones from 1997-2018 using data from both NOAA and Air Force SFMRs. The study will include a statistical analysis between wind speeds both aloft and at the surface in an attempt to create a relationship between the two levels. Analysis will be done with storms of different magnitudes, flight levels, as well as with different versions of the SFMR. Applying this relationship to non-SFMR equipped aircraft could help improve the data gaps currently challenging modern day hurricane forecasting.

 

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