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Archive for the ‘Hurricane modeling’ Category

That Was The Week That Was, August 22-27, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

SUNDAY AUGUST 22: Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles and other classics, was born this day 100 years ago in Waukegan, Illinois.

The rockets came like drums, beating in the night. The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke. And from the rockets ran men with hammers in their hands to beat the strange world into a shape that was familiar to the eye, to bludgeon away all the strangeness, their mouths fringed with nails so they resembled steel-toothed carnivores, spitting them into their swift hands as they hammered up frame cottages and scuttled over roofs with shingles to blot out the eerie stars, and fit green shades to pull against the night.


MONDAY AUGUST 23: The MODIS Image of the Day shows a plankton bloom off Greenland.

Planet pulverizers: A research team including Goddard’s Marc Kuchner finds evidence of planet-destroying collisions in another star system!

Dog days of summer: On What On Earth, bloggers Patrick Lynch and Adam Voiland of NASA’s Earth Science News Team discuss the warm and erratic summer weather.

Better luck next time: On this day in 1961, Ranger 1 launched. When the experimental satellite separated from its Agena booster stage it went into a low Earth orbit and began tumbling. The satellite re-entered Earth’s atmosphere a week later, on August 30, 1961

Awesomely: Featured in Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round Up: solar sail, sunspots, special shuttle launch, space colonies, and other highlights in space science and astronomy.


satellite image of hurricane katrina

TUESDAY AUGUST 24: Goddard marks the 5-year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe:  The Scientific Visualization Studio provides a satellite-eye view of the tempest. See a Katrina Flickr gallery by Public Affairs photo maven Rebecca Roth. Meanwhile, gogblog asks Goddard researcher Siegfried Schubert how supercomputers are improving hurricane forecasting. And Discovery News blogger Michael Reilly comments on the Goddard satellite visualization about Katrina.

This year’s model: Here’s how to build a life-size mock-up of the James Webb Space Telescope.


photo of launch of spitzer space telescopeWEDNESDAY AUGUST 25: Satellite imagery featured today: dust storms in Afghanistan and Pakistan and how satellites can help archeologists preserve hidden cultural treasures.

Koji says: Take a tour of the international observatory on the island of La Palma with NASA Blueshift blogger Koji Mukai.

Hail to the chief. . . of the Goddard Astrochemistry Laboratory, Jason Dworkin, in a new video profile.

Go Spitzer! On this day in 2003, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) launched into orbit. One of the quartet of NASA Great Observatories, SIRTF was renamed the Spitzer Space Telescope and continues to push the frontiers of space-based astronomy.


robonaut_202THURSDAY AUGUST 26: Earth Observatory spotlights satellite view of fires raging in South America.

FRIDAY AUGUST 27: On this day in 1962, Mariner 2 left for Venus, to become the first spaceship from Earth to visit another planet.

Space rocks: NASA and U2 released a commemorative video highlighting a year’s worth of collaboration in space and on the Irish rock band’s 360 Degree tour.

I, Robonaut! NASA’s humanoid astronaut buddy is being prepared for its history making launch to the International Space Station on STS-133.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Katrina +5: Where is hurricane science now and where is it going? At Goddard, researchers are betting on supercomputing to give us an edge over nature's deadliest storms

August 24, 2010 10 comments
Click to view video of GEOS-5 computer model simulation of the 2005 hurricane season.

Click to view computer simulation of August 2005, during a record-breaking hurricane season.


Scientists at Goddard’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) hope that supercomputer simulations of the global weather machine will eventually pay off with forecasts helpful in planning for hurricanes.

Since the notorious 2005 hurricane season that included Hurricane Katrina, “there have been tremendous advances in high-resolution modeling of storms,” according to GMAO scientist Siegfried Schubert.

Schubert says that researchers have reached new heights in detailed weather and climate simulation using Goddard’s Discover supercomputer. The star of the show is the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5).

GEOS-5 combines theoretical simulation of Earth’s coupled ocean-atmosphere system and real data from Goddard’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites. Clouds form and billow; storms evolve from moisture and heat; hurricanes scud across ocean basins.

In a recent record for lifelike computer simulation of Earth’s storm factory, GEOS-5 reproduced details as small as 14 kilometers (about 9 miles). That’s a smaller footprint than many thunderstorms.

The model was able to simulate important structures of hurricanes, such as the sharply defined inner “eye wall” and clusters of convective clouds that are part of the storm’s plumbing system.

GMAO researcher William Putman re-ran the 2005 tropical storm seasons using GEOS-5, an exercise known as “hindcasting.” The sea surface temperature drove, or “forced,” the process, just as in real life.

The GEOS-5 model roughly reproduced the actual number of tropical storms in 2005. That year, the Atlantic basin spawned 28 tropical storms, 15 hurricanes, and 7 “major” hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

What does this mean for you and me?

With continuing advances in both the power of supercomputers and more accurate models, the heirs to GEOS-5 should be able to produce decent seasonal forecasts. This means predicting how many storms will form, how many could be major storms.

Further on, models that account for large-scale patterns of circulation in the ocean and atmosphere could even help forecast the number of landfalling storms.

With such a forecasts, regions would at least have the option of preparing more effectively.



Check out the special feature on Katrina on the NASA website.

Watch, “Katrina Retrospective: 5 years After the Storm” below for a fascinating exploration of Hurricane Katrina from the perspective of NASA’s fleet of satellites:


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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