How advances in science and computer modeling have lead to improvements in studying hurricanes.
Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, leaving a trail of destruction and hundreds of deaths. Since then, researchers have made strides in understanding the inner-core processes and environmental factors that affect the path and intensity of a hurricane. When a hurricane strikes now, scientists have a better understanding of where it’s going and what’s going on inside it than they did ten years ago thanks to higher resolution models largely enabled by more powerful supercomputers. Today’s models have up to ten times the resolution than those during Katrina and allow for a more accurate look inside a hurricane. Using these models, historical storms can even be recreated in great detail to help scientists study and learn about past events. Watch the videos to see simulations of Hurricane Katrina created from a NASA weather and climate model in 2015.
Before making landfall, Katrina was classified as a Category 5 storm. This simulation shows the storm’s wind speeds from Aug. 22-30, 2005.
Water vapor in the atmosphere helps to fuel storms. This simulation shows water vapor within Katrina from Aug. 22-30, 2005.
Model resolution has greatly improved over the last 10 years. These images show Katrina’s winds using a model from 2005 (left) and 2015 (right).
Today's models have up to 10 times higher resolution. These images show water vapor within Katrina at 50 km resolution (left) and 6.25 km (right).
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video and images courtesy of NASA/GSFC/Bill Putman