Hurricane Resources

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Narrated Products

  • Towers in the Tempest
    2007.05.10
    This visualization won Honorable Mention in the National Science Foundation's Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge in September 2007. It was also shown during the SIGGRAPH 2008 Computer Animation Festival in Los Angeles, CA. 'Towers in the Tempest' is a 4.5 minute narrated animation that explains recent scientific insights into how hurricanes intensify. This intensification can be caused by a phenomenon called a 'hot tower'. For the first time, research meteorologists have run complex simulations using a very fine temporal resolution of 3 minutes. Combining this simulation data with satellite observations enables detailed study of 'hot towers'. The science of 'hot towers' is described using: observed hurricane data from a satellite, descriptive illustrations, and volumetric visualizations of simulation data. The first section of the animation shows actual data from Hurricane Bonnie observed by NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) spacecraft. Three dimensional precipitation radar data reveal a strong 'hot tower' in Hurricane Bonnie's internal structure. The second section uses illustrations to show the dynamics of a hurricane and the formation of 'hot towers'. 'Hot towers' are formed as air spirals inward towards the eye and is forced rapidly upwards, accelerating the movement of energy into high altitude clouds. The third section shows these processes using volumetric cloud, wind, and vorticity data from a supercomputer simulation of Hurricane Bonnie. Vertical wind speed data highlights a 'hot tower'. Arrows representing the wind field move rapidly up into the 'hot tower, boosting the energy and intensifying the hurricane. Combining satellite observations with super-computer simulations provides a powerful tool for studying Earth's complex systems. The complete script is available here . The storyboard is available here . There is also a movie of storyboard drawings with narration below.
  • 27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta
    2006.05.31
    Many records were broken during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season including the most hurricanes ever, the most category 5 hurricanes, and the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic as measured by atmospheric pressure. This visualization shows all 27 named storms that formed in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and examines some of the conditions that made hurricane formation so favorable.

    The animation begins by showing the regions of warm water that are favorable for storm development advancing northward through the peak of hurricane season and then receding as the waters cool. The thermal energy in these warm waters powers the hurricanes. Strong shearing winds in the troposphere can disrupt developing young storms, but measurements indicate that there was very little shearing wind activity in 2005 to impede storm formation.

    Sea surface temperatures, clouds, storm tracks, and hurricane category labels are shown as the hurricane season progresses.

    This visualization shows some of the actual data that NASA and NOAA satellites measured in 2005 — data used to predict the paths and intensities of hurricanes. Satellite data play a vital role in helping us understand the land, ocean, and atmosphere systems that have such dramatic effects on our lives.

    NOTE: This animation shows the named storms from the 2005 hurricane season. During a re-analysis of 2005, NOAA's Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center determined that a short-lived subtropcial storm developed near the Azores Islands in late September, increasing the 2005 tropical storm count from 27 to 28. This storm was not named and is not shown in this animation.

    '27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta' played in the SIGGRAPH 2007 Computer Animation Festival in August 2007. It was also a finalist in the 2006 NSF Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Earth System Science: Summary

  • Atlantic Hurricane/Storm Summary (2001 to Present)
    2006.06.13
    These still images shows plots of time vs. wind speed for each tropical storm/hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane seasons. Horizontal lines indicate wind speed category thresholds. A line plot for each storm shows the storm's name and a marker at the peak wind speed.

    The plot for the current year automatically updates every 2 hours during hurricane season.

Earth System Science: Modeling

  • Global Large-scale Precipitation During Hurricane Frances (WMS)
    2005.07.28
    Water vapor is a small but significant constituent of the atmosphere, warming the planet due to the greenhouse effect and condensing to form clouds. As moisture-laden air rises, the relative humidity increases until it saturates the air, at which time precipitation occurs. If the uplift of air is due to large-scale atmospheric motion, then the precipitation is called large-scale, or dynamic. This animation shows the large-scale precipitation for the whole globe from September 1, 2004, through September 5, 2004, during the period of Hurricane Frances in the western Atlantic Ocean and Typhoon Songda in the western Pacific Ocean. Large-scale precipitation tends to be continuous and to come from decks of stratus clouds rather than from thunderstorms.
  • A Hurricane Model
    2007.05.09
    NASA scientists use the computer modeling field including the NCAR Mesoscale Model Version 5 (MM5) model to study the winds and updrafts near the hurricane's eye. An updraft is the vertical upward movement of air inside of a storm. This research focuses on the processes that impact the formation, intensification, movement, structure, and precipitation organization of hurricanes. An MM5 simulation of Hurricane Bonnie (1998) suggests that the timing and location of individual updrafts that produce the rainfall (often concentrated on very small-scales) are controlled by intense, small-scale regions of rapidly swirling flow in the eyewall. The winds in hurricanes are often described in terms of radial (in toward the center or out away from it) and tangential (the swirling flow around a hurricane) winds. By looking at the urad field, one can see where the main inflow and outflow regions of the storm are, which can be important for a variety of reasons. Eyewall mesovortices are small scale rotational features found in the eyewalls of intense tropical cyclones. In these vortices, wind speed can be up to 10% higher than in the rest of the eyewall. Eyewall mesovortices are a significant factor in the formation of tornadoes after tropical cyclone landfall. Mesovortices can spawn rotation in individual thunderstorms (a mesocyclone), which leads to tornadic activity. At landfall, friction is generated between the circulation of the tropical cyclone and land. This can allow the mesovortices to descend to the surface, causing large outbreaks of tornadoes.
  • fvGCM Climate Model and Hurricane Ivan Track
    2004.11.08
    This animation shows the track of hurricane Ivan, in yellow, and a track in green showing the path of Ivan as predicted by the fvGCM model. The animation follows Ivan from far out in the eastern Atlantic, all the way to land fall in southern Alabama. The white cloud-like features show the cloud cover and total moisture calculated by the model and help to illustrate wind motion.
  • fvGCM Climate Model and Hurricane Ivan Global View
    2004.11.08
    This animation illustrates the output of the fvGCM atmospheric model, during the five day period just prior to the landfall of hurricane Ivan. The white cloud-like features show the cloud cover and total moisture calculated by the model and help to illustrate wind motion.
  • fvGCM Climate Model of Hurricane Ivan (Hourly/Closeup View)
    2004.12.06
    This animation illustrates the output of NASA's finite-volume General Circulation Model (fvGCM) during the five day period just prior to the landfall of hurricane Ivan.

    The data used for this animation was computed for each hour. The visible structure of the hurricane is defined by areas of high wind. The color represents the amount of total precipitable water (blue is low, red is high).

  • fvGCM Climate Model of Hurricane Frances and Other Storms
    2004.12.06
    This animation illustrates the output of NASA's finite-volume General Circulation Model (fvGCM) which is a global, 1/4 degree atmospheric model. Three dimensional volumetric representations of tropical cyclones are shown around the world including: Hurricane Francis in the Western Atlantic, Tropical Depression Ivan in the Eastern Atlantic, Tropical Cyclone Pheobe in the Indian Ocean, and Super Typhoon Songda in the Western North Pacific. The structures are defined by areas of high wind speeds. The colors represent total precipitable water (blue is low, red is high).
  • MAP '05 Models Hurricane Katrina's Winds from August 23, 2005 to August 31, 2005
    2006.06.07
    During the summer of 2005, the Earth-Sun Exploration Division of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center(GSFC) brought together resources from NASA to study tropical cyclones. The MAP '05 Project, so named for its affiliation with NASA's Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (MAP) program, applies NASA's advanced satellite remote sensing technologies and earth system modeling capabilities to improve our understanding of tropical cyclones that develop in and move across the Atlantic basin. MAP '05 implemented the most recent version of the NASA/Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) fifth-generation global atmospheric model and the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) analysis system under development as a collaboration between NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at GSFC. This animation displays MAP '05's wind analysis data for every 6 hour interval from August 23 through August 31, 2005.
  • MAP '05 Models Hurricane Katrina's Winds on August 29, 2005
    2006.06.07
    During the summer of 2005 the Earth-Sun Exploration Division of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center(GSFC) brought together resources from NASA to study tropical cyclones. The MAP '05 Project, so named for its affiliation with NASA's Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (MAP) program, applies NASA's advanced satellite remote sensing technologies and earth system modeling capabilities to improve our understanding of tropical cyclones that develop in and move across the Atlantic basin. MAP '05 implemented the most recent version of the NASA/Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) fifth-generation global atmospheric model and the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) analysis system under development as a collaboration between NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at GSFC. This animation generates a white static flow fields from the MAP '05 wind analysis data.
  • Global Convective Precipitation During Hurricane Frances (WMS)
    2005.07.28
    Water vapor is a small but significant constituent of the atmosphere, warming the planet due to the greenhouse effect and condensing to form clouds. As moisture-laden air rises, the relative humidity increases until it saturates the air, at which time precipitation occurs. If the uplift of air is due to strong updrafts and unstable air systems, as in thunderstorms, then the precipitation is called convective. This animation shows the convective precipitation for the whole globe from September 1, 2004, through September 5, 2004, during the period of Hurricane Frances in the western Atlantic Ocean and Typhoon Songda in the western Pacific Ocean. Convective precipitation is more intense but less long-lasting than large-scale precipitation.
  • Global 300 hPa Geopotential Height during Hurricane Frances (WMS)
    2005.07.28
    The Earth's atmosphere exerts pressure based on the weight of the air above, so the pressure reduces with rising altitude. This rate of pressure reduction with altitude is based on the temperature of the air, with the pressure of colder air reducing faster with altitude than warmer air. Therefore, a surface of constant pressure has a lower altitude at the poles than the equator. This animation shows the altitude above sea level (the geopotential height) of the 300 hectopascal (hPa) pressure surface for the whole globe from September 1, 2004, through September 5, 2004, during the period of Hurricane Frances in the western Atlantic Ocean and Typhoon Songda in the western Pacific Ocean. This pressure is about one-third of the normal pressure at sea level. The largest downward slope of this surface occurs in the mid-latitudes and is shown in yellow in the animation. At this region, air is trying to flow from the equator towards the poles to reduce the slope, but the rotation of the Earth forces the flow to divert to the east, forming the strong west-to-east jet stream flows in these regions. Frances and Songda can be seen as sharp yellow dots of reduced height in their respective locations.
  • Global Cloud Cover During Hurricane Frances (WMS)
    2005.07.28
    Water vapor is a small but significant constituent of the atmosphere, warming the planet due to the greenhouse effect and condensing to form clouds which both warm and cool the Earth in different circumstances. Warm, moisture-laden air moving out from the tropics brings clouds and rainfall to the temperate zones. This animation shows the cloud cover for the whole globe from September 1, 2004, through September 5, 2004, during the period of Hurricane Frances in the western Atlantic Ocean and Typhoon Songda in the western Pacific Ocean. The cloud cover in any region significantly affects the energy balance since sunlight reflected from the clouds is not available to heat the surface. The motion of clouds in this animation clearly indicates the speed and direction of winds around the globe.

Earth System Science: Research

  • Hurricane Bonnie Dissolving 'Crystal Cathedral'
    2000.09.05
    A fly in to a set of nested 3D isosurfaces of constant precipitation density for Hurricane Bonnie, measured by TRMM on August 22, 1998. The isosurfaces a removed one-by-one until only the highest density surface remains, then the surfaces are restored in reverse order.
  • NASA Scientists Research Tropical Cyclones
    2006.06.14
    From hot towers to phytoplankton blooms, NASA's cutting-edge hurricane research has been revealing never-before-seen aspects of these giant storms for over a decade. The past three years have seen great progress in the areas of intensity monitoring and 3-D modeling of hurricanes. In 2006, scientists at NASA and other institutions have more tools than ever to study these storms using the very latest in ground, air, and space-based technology. The top left window shows sea surface temperature and clouds. Orange and red colors represent ocean temperatures at 82 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This is the temperature required for hurricanes to form. The bottom left window shows wind analysis model data from NASA's Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (MAP '05) program. The top right window shows Rainfall Accumulation for Hurricane Katrina from the TRMM spacecraft. The bottom right window shows Energy-releasing deep convective clouds (to 16 km) in the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina, called 'Hot Towers', on August 28 occurred while the storm was intensifying to a category 5 classification.
  • Unmaned Aerosonde Braves Hurricane Winds
    2005.03.11
    The aerosonde will make continuous observation of the temperature, moisture, and wind structure of the near-surface hurricane environment providing real-time detailed observations to NOAA forecasters. Aerosonde and its sophisticated instruments will try to detect signals of rapid intensity changes in the hurricane. Enhancing this predictive capability would not only save our economy billions of dollars, but more importantly, it would save countless lives.
  • Dropsonde Hurricane Sensor
    2003.11.05
    Dropsondes Away! - Described by a researcher as 'Pringles cans with parachutes', scientists dropped sensors called 'dropsondes' into 2001's Hurricane Erin to gain temperature, pressure, moisture and wind readings throughout different locations in the hurricane. An ER-2 allows for eight dropsondes deliveries, while the fully staffed DC-8 plane drops as many as 15 dropsondes within the hurricane.
  • ARGO Float Animation #2
    2005.07.29
    This visualization shows the locations of the ARGO buoy array over time. When the buoys above water, the lines are brighter; when the buoys are under water, the lines are fainter. The ARGO buoys measure ocean salinity, column temperature, and current velocities. This version of the visualization uses a faster camera move than version #1 (animation 3204).
  • ARGO Float Animation #1
    2005.07.28
    This visualization shows the locations of the ARGO buoy array over time. When the buoys are above water, the lines are brighter; when the buoys are under water, the lines are fainter. The ARGO buoys measure ocean salinity, column temperature, and current velocities. This version of the visualization uses a slow camera move.
  • Cold Water Upwelling Promotes Phytoplankton Blooms
    2004.06.21
    Carbon is the root of all life on Earth, and as it circulates through our biosphere, the Earth's state of health responds. Whenever the size of phytoplankton colonies in the ocean changes, it affects the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere. These blooms are highly dependent on surrounding environmental conditions. As a hurricane passes over the tropical waters of the Atlantic, it draws up cold water from deep below the warmer surface. As the cooler water rises, it brings with it phytoplankton and nutrients necessary for life. These microscopic plants then bloom in higher than average amounts. Bigger storms cause larger plankton blooms and more plankton absorb a greater amount of carbon from our atmosphere. Scientists are still trying to determine how much carbon dioxide might be removed by such a process.
  • SeaWiFS Biosphere Data over the North Atlantic
    2006.12.05
    The SeaWiFS instrument aboard the Seastar satellite has been collecting ocean data since 1997. By monitoring the color of reflected light via satellite, scientists can determine how successfully plant life is photosynthesizing. A measurement of photosynthesis is essentially a measurement of successful growth, and growth means successful use of ambient carbon. This animation represents nearly a decade's worth of data taken by the SeaWiFS instrument, showing the abundance of life in the sea. Dark blue represents warmer areas where there is little life due to lack of nutrients, and greens and reds represent cooler nutrient-rich areas. The nutrient-rich areas include coastal regions where cold water rises from the sea floor bringing nutrients along and areas at the mouths of rivers where the rivers have brought nutrients into the ocean from the land.

    This animation is essentially the same as animation #3450 with a few minor changes and runs at half the speed.

Earth System Science: Hurricane Recipe

  • Bermuda High
    2006.06.07
    The Bermuda High pressure system sits over the Atlantic during summer. Acting as a block that hurricanes cannot penetrate, the size and location of this system can determine where hurricanes go. A normal Bermuda High often leads to hurricanes moving up the east coast and out to sea. During summer 2004 and 2005, the Bermuda High expanded to the south and west, which steered hurricanes into the Gulf of Mexico rather than up the east coast or curving out to sea. Once in the Gulf, most hurricane paths will involve landfall at some location.
  • Birth of a Hurricane
    2004.09.10
    This animation follows Hurricane Isabel (2003) from its birthplace in the Ethiopian Highlands of East Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean, to the United States. Atlantic hurricanes are often formed as winds over the Gulf of Aden intersect with the Ethiopian Highlands. This animation zooms into the Ethiopian Highlands and shows several storms being formed. Then, the animation dissolves in a reticle to focus in specifically on the formation of Hurricane Isabel. The reticle follows the storm across Africa and into the Atlantic. The path and intensity of Hurricane Isabel is depicted by a colored path. Blue represents the genesis of the storm. Green is a Tropical Depression where winds are less than 39 miles per hour. Yellow is a Tropical Storm where winds are between 39 and 73 miles per hour. Red is a category 1 hurricane where winds are between 74 and 95 miles per hour. Light Red is a category 2 hurricane with winds between 96 and 110 miles per hour. Magenta is a category 3 hurricane with winds between 111 and 130 miles per hour. Light magenta is a category 4 hurricane with winds between 131 and 154 miles per hour. White represents a category 5 hurricane where winds are greater than 155 miles per hour. Note how Isabel gains size and speed over the warm waters of the Atlantic.
  • Transatlantic Dust from North Africa (WMS)
    2005.03.15
    Desert storms in northern Africa raise dust that is carried in the upper atmosphere across the Atlantic Ocean. The dust, which may carry potentially hazardous bacteria and fungi, can land as far west as the Caribbean and the Americas.
  • Anatomy of Hurricane Isabel
    2005.09.21
    This visualization shows several data sets from Hurricane Isabel. Sea surface temperature (SST) as seen by Aqua/AMSR-E is represented by the colors in the ocean. Red and yellow are waters above 82 degrees Fahrenheit which is favorable for hurricane formation. Sea surface winds as seen by QuikSCAT are represented by the arrows over the SSTs. Internal rain structure as seen by TRMM/PR is represented by the semi-transparent surfaces close to the ocean surface. Isabel's wam hurricane core as seen by GOES/AMSU is represented by the ellipsoid shapes above the rain structure. This visualizaiton was intended as a proof of concept; but has been released due to its popularity.
  • Recipe of a Hurricane: Spin Around Clouds and Isosurfaces
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This is a visualization of hurricane Erin on September 10, 2001. This version of the visualization is a slow spin around the GOES and TRMM/VIRS based cloud tops (extruded), the TRMM/PR based rain isosurface, and the CAMEX-4/dropsonde-based heat isosurface.
  • Recipe of a Hurricane (Part 1): Initial Tropical Disturbance (Match Rendered)
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This visualization was match-frame rendered to another visualization showing sea surface temperature.
  • Recipe of a Hurricane (Part 1): Sea Surface Temperature
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This visualization shows sea surface temperature as measured by the NASA Aqua satellite's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument. Temperature is represented by the colors in the ocean. Orange and red indicate the necessary 82-degree and warmer sea surface temperatures for a hurricane to form. This version keeps the camera focused on the east coast of North America.
  • Recipe of a Hurricane (Part 1): Sea Surface Temperature (Match Rendered)
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This visualization shows Sea Surface Temperature as measured by the NASA Aqua satellite's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument. Temperature is represented by the colors in the ocean. Orange and red indicate the necessary 82-degree and warmer sea surface temperatures for a hurricane to form. This visualization was match-frame rendered to another visualization showing GOES clouds.
  • Recipe of a Hurricane (Part 2): Clouds and Isosurfaces (Match Rendered)
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This is a visualization of Hurricane Erin on September 10, 2001. This is the main section of the visualization that shows the GOES and TRMM/VIRS based cloud tops (extruded), the TRMM/PR based rain isosurface, and the CAMEX-4/dropsonde-based heat isosurface. This visualization was match-frame rendered to two other visualizations (winds and isosurfaces) and was intended to be shown edited together.
  • Recipe of a Hurricane (Part 2): Push into Blue Marble (Match Rendered)
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This part of the visualization is the setup shot which pushes into the western Atlantic Ocean. Another visualization of wind vectors is intended to be faded over top of this visualization. This visualization was match-frame rendered to two other visualizations (winds and isosurfaces).
  • Recipe of a Hurricane (Part 2): Wind Vectors (Match Rendered)
    2003.09.30
    This visualization was created in support of the 'Recipe for a Hurricane' live shot campaign. This is a visualization of Hurricane Erin on September 10, 2001. The visualization shows moving wind vectors from NASA's QuikSCAT spacecraft. This visualization was match-frame rendered (with alpha channel) to two other visualizations (winds and isosurfaces) and was intended to be shown edited together.
  • Hurricanes as Heat Engines
    2000.05.03
    See Conceptual Image Lab animation #10049 for additional Hurricane Heat Engines material.
  • Hurricane Heat Engine (Part 1)
    2005.03.11
    TRMM provides a closer look at hurricanes using a unique combination of passive and active microwave instruments designed to peer inside cloud systems and measure rainfall. TRMM allows scientists to study the combustion process in the hurricane engine and relate this process to intensification or weakening.
  • Hurricane Heat Engine (Part 2)
    2005.03.11
    TRMM provides a closer look at hurricanes using a unique combination of passive and active microwave instruments designed to peer inside cloud systems and measure rainfall. TRMM allows scientists to study the combustion process in the hurricane engine and relate this process to intensification or weakening.Hurricane Energy Process - As water vapor is evaporated from the warm ocean surface, it is forced upward in towering convective clouds in the eyewall and rain band regions of the storm. As the water vapor changes from a gas to a liquid (cloud water), latent heat is released.
  • Hurricane Heat Engine (Part 3)
    2005.03.11
    TRMM provides a closer look at hurricanes using a unique combination of passive and active microwave instruments designed to peer inside cloud systems and measure rainfall. TRMM allows scientists to study the combustion process in the hurricane engine and relate this process to intensification or weakening. Cloud Growth - The release of latent heat warms the surrounding air, making it lighter, which promotes more vigorous cloud development. It is suspected that rapid bursts of cloud growth, particularly in the eyewall region of hurricanes, may relate to the intensification phase of a storm. Towering eyewall clouds are potential precursors to intensification of hurricanes.

Severe Weather

  • El Nino Hurricane Connection
    2005.03.11
    Animation compares the effects of La Niña and El Niño on the formation of Atlantic Hurricanes. El Niño tends to suppress the formation of hurricanes by steering the subtropical jet stream into the hurricanes' path and shearing off the tops of the storms before they develop into full intensity. During La Niña, the jet stream moves north, and hurricanes tend to more easily evolve without interference.
  • Wind Anomalies during El Nino/La Nina Event of 1997-1998 (WMS)
    2005.06.01
    The El Niño/La Niña event in 1997-1999 was particularly intense, but was also very well observed by satellites and buoys. Deviations from normal winds speeds and directions were computed using data from the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSMI) on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite.
  • NASA Satellite Reveals Heavy Rainfall Patterns in California
    2005.01.12
    The collision of a flow of moisture from Hawaii known as a 'Pineapple Express' and a persistent low pressure system are wreaking havoc on California weather. This movie shows rain accumulation in San Diego from Jan. 6 through Jan. 11 based on data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)-based Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis. The accumulation is shown in colors ranging from green (less than 50 mm of rain) through red (200 mm or more). The TRMM satellite, using the world's only spaceborne rain radar and other microwave instruments, measures rainfall over the ocean. In this case instruments were able to reveal rainfall structure resulting from storms 'riding' the actual Pineapple Express extending toward Hawaii, which is beyond the range of conventional land-based National Weather Service radars.

    In early 1995, a Pineapple Express hit California, contributing to a season of winter storms that killed 27 people and did $3 billion in damages and costs. A Pineapple Express in mid-October 2003 wreaked havoc from south of Seattle to north of Vancouver Island. Flooding forced more than 3,000 people from their homes.

  • CloudSat, Calipso and MODIS over Central America
    2007.07.05
    Associated with tropical thunderstorms are broad fields of cirrus clouds that flow out of the tops of the vigorous storm systems that form over warm tropical oceans. These clouds play a role in how much infrared energy is trapped in Earth's atmosphere. NASA's Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling (TC4) mission, which runs from July 16, 2007 through August 8, 2007, aims to document the full lifecycle of these clouds. Observations from four A-Train satellites flying in formation will complement the aircraft measurements with large-scale views of many different features of the atmosphere. Observations from this mission along with previous studies will improve our understanding of what effect a warming climate with rising ocean temperatures will have on these cloud systems. These images over Central America, produced in support of the TC4 mission, show a tropical storm system over Central and South America on August 2, 2006 as measured from multiple satellite sensors, including Aqua MODIS, CloudSat and CALIPSO. In this view from the Pacific Ocean, Panama is on the left and South America is shown on the right. In the following series of still images, each satellite's measurement is shown individually and in combination with the others from the same camera viewpoint. The profile showing CloudSat and CALIPSO data is truncated at a height of twenty kilometers and exaggerated ten times. The land topography is also exaggerated by a factor of ten.
  • Global Lightning Accumulation (WMS)
    2005.04.14
    Lightning is a brief but intense electrical discharge between positive and negative regions of a thunderstorm. The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was designed to study the distribution and variability of total lightning on a global basis. The Optical Transient Detector (OTD) was an earlier lightning detector flying aboard the Microlab-1 spacecraft. The data shown here are compiled from LIS (1998-2002) and OTD (1995-1999) observations. Because each satellite saw only a part of the Earth at any one time, these data use complex algorithms to estimate total flash rate based on the flashes observed and the amount of time the satellite views each area.

    NOTE: This animation is primarily designed to be used through the Web Mapping Services (WMS) protocol. Each frame in the animation actually represents an accumulation of a number of years of data up through a particular day of the year. Because of a limitation in the WMS protocol, each frame is marked only with a single date representing the last date for which the data was accumulated.

  • Global Lightning Flash Rate Density (WMS)
    2005.04.14
    Lightning is a brief but intense electrical discharge between positive and negative regions of a thunderstorm.The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was designed to study the distribution and variability of total lightning on a global basis. The Optical Transient Detector (OTD) was an earlier lightning detector flying aboard the Microlab-1 spacecraft. The data shown here are compiled from LIS (1998-2002) and OTD (1995-1999) observations. Because each satellite saw only a part of the Earth at any one time, these data use complex algorithms to estimate total flash rate density (number of flashes per square kilometer per year) based on the flashes observed and the amount of time the satellite views each area.
  • TOPEX/JASON Sea Level
    2005.07.29
    This visualization shows the relative sea level around the Earth. Sea level is represented by both color (blue=low, red=high) and bumpiness. The range is -500 mm to +500 mm.
  • Sea Surface Height Anomaly, 2003-2005 (WMS)
    2005.07.13
    Changes in the normal height of the ocean's surface were observed by the TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter.

Satellites