For the first time in almost a decade NASA will study tropical cyclones in a massive field campaign.
The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes mission, or GRIP, will combine data acquired from three NASA aircraft and three NASA satellites to study the creation and rapid intensification of hurricanes starting on August 15 in a six-week campaign.
“This is really going to be a game-changing hurricane experiment,” said Ramesh Kakar, GRIP program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “For the first time, scientists will be able to study these storms and the conditions that produce them for up to 20 hours straight. GRIP will provide a sustained, continuous look at hurricane behavior at critical times during their formation and evolution.”
Three NASA aircraft will be taking part in the mission, carrying a total of 15 instruments all designed to determine how a tropical cyclone will behave. A DC -8, WB-57 and a remotely piloted Global Hawk will all be available to monitor hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
The instruments on board the aircraft will monitor many factors including cloud droplet and aerosol concentrations, air temperature, wind speed and direction in storms and on the ocean’s surface, air pressure, humidity, lightning, aerosols and water vapour.
Above the atmosphere three NASA satellites will be playing a key role in supplying data about tropical cyclones during the mission. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, TRMM, will provide rainfall estimates and help pinpoint the locations of “hot towers” or powerhouse thunderstorms in tropical cyclones. The CloudSat spacecraft will provide cloud profiles of storms, which include altitude, temperatures and rainfall intensity. And several instruments onboard NASA’s Aqua satellite, will provide infrared, visible and microwave data that reveal such factors as temperature, air pressure, precipitation, cloud ice content, convection and sea surface temperatures.
“It was a lot of hard work to assemble the science team and the payload for the three aircraft for GRIP,” Kakar said. “But now that the start of the field experiment is almost here, we can hardly contain our excitement.”
Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech