SETI bioastro: FW: NASA Africa Mission Investigates Origin, Development of Hurricanes

From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Thu Jul 27 2006 - 05:53:39 PDT

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    >From: "NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory" <info_at_jpl.nasa.gov>
    >Reply-To: <info_at_jpl.nasa.gov>
    >Subject: NASA Africa Mission Investigates Origin, Development of Hurricanes
    >Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 15:21:23 -0700
    >
    >MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
    >JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
    >CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    >NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
    >PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
    >http://www.jpl.nasa.gov
    >
    >Alan Buis 818-354-0474
    >Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    >
    >Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown 202-358-1237/1726
    >NASA Headquarters, Washington
    >
    >News Release: 2006-096 July 26, 2006
    >
    >NASA Africa Mission Investigates Origin, Development of Hurricanes
    >
    >Scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
    >universities and
    >international agencies will study how winds and dust conditions from Africa
    >influence the birth of
    >hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
    >
    >The field campaign, called NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses
    >2006, runs from
    >Aug. 15 to mid-September in the Cape Verde Islands, 563 kilometers (350
    >miles) off the coast of
    >Senegal in West Africa. This campaign is a component of a much broader
    >international project,
    >called the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses, aimed at improving
    >the knowledge and
    >understanding of the West African Monsoon.
    >
    >Researchers will use satellite data, weather station information, computer
    >models and aircraft to
    >provide scientists with better insight into all the conditions that enhance
    >the development of
    >tropical cyclones, the general name given to tropical depressions, storms
    >and hurricanes. This
    >research will help hurricane forecasters better understand the behavior of
    >these deadly storms.
    >
    >"Scientists recognize the hurricane development process when they see it,
    >but our skill in
    >forecasting which weak system will intensify into a major cyclone is not
    >great," said Dr. Edward
    >Zipser, mission chief scientist, of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
    >"That is why NASA and
    >its partners place a high priority on obtaining high-quality data for weak
    >disturbances, as well as
    >those already showing signs of intensification."
    >
    >For hurricanes to develop, specific environmental conditions must be
    >present: warm ocean water,
    >high humidity and favorable atmospheric and upward spiraling wind patterns
    >off the ocean
    >surface. Atlantic hurricanes usually start as weak tropical disturbances
    >off the West African coast
    >and intensify into rotating storms with weak winds, called tropical
    >depressions. If the depressions
    >reach wind speeds of at least 63 kilometers (39 miles) per hour, they are
    >classified as tropical
    >storms. Hurricanes have winds greater than 117 kilometers (73 miles) per
    >hour.
    >
    >To study these environmental conditions, researchers will use NASA's DC-8
    >research aircraft as a
    >platform for advanced atmospheric research instruments. Remote and on-site
    >sensing devices,
    >including two from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will
    >allow scientists to
    >target specific areas in developing storms. Sensors on board the aircraft
    >will measure cloud and
    >particle sizes and shapes, wind speed and direction, rainfall rates,
    >atmospheric temperature,
    >pressure, and relative humidity. JPL's Airborne Dual-frequency
    >Precipitation Radar is a next-
    >generation rain radar that will be used to better characterize
    >precipitation processes. JPL's High-
    >Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer
    >measures temperature
    >and moisture content in the atmosphere.
    >
    >The campaign will use extensive data from NASA's fleet of Earth observing
    >satellites, including
    >the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission, QuikScat, Aqua, and the
    >recently-launched CloudSat
    >and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations, or
    >Calipso. These
    >advanced satellites will provide unprecedented views into the vertical
    >structure of the tropical
    >systems, while the field observations will help validate data from the new
    >satellites. JPL manages
    >QuikScat, CloudSat and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (Airs) instrument
    >on Aqua.
    >
    >During the field campaign, scientists hope to get a better understanding of
    >the role of the Saharan
    >Air Layer and how its dry air, strong embedded winds and dust influence
    >cyclone development.
    >The layer is a mass of very dry, often dusty air that forms over the Sahara
    >Desert during the late
    >spring, summer, and early fall and usually moves out over the tropical
    >Atlantic Ocean.
    >
    >As part of looking at the Saharan Air Layer, scientists want to better
    >understand dust's effect on
    >clouds. Some evidence indicates that dust makes it more difficult for rain
    >to form. Cloud models
    >need to account for any such effect, so measurements of cloud-droplet
    >concentrations and size in
    >clean ocean air and dusty air from the Sahara need to be made.
    >
    >Researchers also will look at what happens to air currents as they move
    >from land to ocean waters.
    >Information on clouds and moisture, heat, air movement, and precipitation
    >in an unstable
    >atmosphere will be collected, analyzed and then simulated in computer
    >models. Understanding
    >hurricane formation requires measurements from very small to large scales,
    >from microscopic dust
    >and raindrops to cloud formations and air currents spanning hundreds of
    >kilometers.
    >
    >More on NASA's hurricane research is at: http://www.nasa.gov/hurricane .
    >More on Airborne
    >Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar: http://trmm.jpl.nasa.gov/apr.html ;
    >CloudSat:
    >http://www.nasa.gov/cloudsat ; QuikScat:
    >http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/quikscat/index.cfm ;
    >Airs: http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/ . The California Institute of
    >Technology manages JPL for
    >NASA.
    >
    >Other media contacts: Ruth Marlaire, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field,
    >Calif., 650-604-4709;
    >Rob Gutro, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., 301-286-4044; Chris
    >Rink, Langley
    >Research Center, Hampton, Va., 757-864-6786; Steve Roy, Marshall Space
    >Flight Center,
    >Huntsville, Ala., 256-544-6535; National Oceanic and Atmospheric
    >Administration, Carmeyia
    >Gillis, 301-763-8000, ext. 7163; and Jana Goldman, 301-713-2483, ext. 181.
    >
    >-end-
    >


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