New technology to improve ways to predict storms and hurricanes

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Washington, June 14 (ANI): A group of scientists in the US and Europe are using increased modeling capabilities to offer to the public and government officials new and improved ways to predict storms and hurricanes.

The scientists are from Louisiana State University's (LSU's) WAVCIS, or Wave-Current-Surge Information System for Coastal Louisiana, and colleagues from Europe.

They now offer graphic, easy-to-understand model outputs projecting wave height, current depths and tracks, salinity ratios and water temperature measurements.

These models not only provide state-of-the-art guidance to emergency management officials, but also give federal and state agencies such as the US Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center and Louisiana Department of National Resources new and improved ways to test their own modeling accuracy.

According to Gregory Stone, director of both the WAVCIS program and the Coastal Studies Institute and also the James P. Morgan Distinguished Professor at LSU, "We now have 60 to 84 hour advance forecasting capabilities due to our satellite link-ups with NOAA and our supercomputing capabilities. Because of these advancements, we are in much better shape for the 2009 hurricane season to provide valuable information than we were in the past."

WAVCIS operates by deploying equipment in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, they have sensors attached to numerous oil platforms.

Instruments are attached to towers on the platforms and allow meteorological measurements - air temperature, wind speed and direction, visibility - to be made; state-of-the-art oceanographic sensors are placed underwater and on the sea floor.

Advanced technology, including the Acoustic Doppler Profiler, an instrument that Stone's group has helped perfect in real time with the private sector, provides a very comprehensive overview of current velocities from the sea bed to the surface in addition to wave conditions on the sea surface.

"In a normal weather situation, WAVCIS links with the satellites and retrieves up-to-date information every hour. This information is then immediately supplied to computer models at LSU's WAVCIS lab and the data are posted on the WAVCIS Web site," said Stone.

"However, during a hurricane or other extreme weather events, we have the capacity to increase the frequency of these link-ups," he added.

Through a close and reciprocal relationship with NOAA's National Data Buoy Center, WAVCIS can also access that group's sensors, giving the system a gulf-wide look at emerging trends in waves and currents, which can be very important during the approach of a tropical cyclone.

"Things such as the maximum wave height, wind speeds and storm surge, will play an integral role in issues concerning public safety," said Stone. (ANI)

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