Earth  ID: 3413

Towers in the Tempest

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.



Visualization Credits

Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Lead Animator
Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Alex Kekesi (GST): Animator
James W. Williams (GST): Animator
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Marte Newcombe (GST): Animator
Tom Bridgman (GST): Animator
Cindy Starr (GST): Visualizer
Helen-Nicole Kostis (UMBC): Animator
Stuart A. Snodgrass (GST): Video Editor
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Narrator
Scott Braun (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Randall Jones (GST): Project Support
Joycelyn Thomson Jones (NASA/GSFC): Project Support
Kevin Mahoney (CSC): Project Support
John Jacobi (GST): Project Support
Michael Starobin (HTSI): Writer
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Writer
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Writer
Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC): Writer
Scott Braun (NASA/GSFC): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission - TRMM

Data Used:
TRMM/PR 08/22/1998 15Z-21Z
TRMM/VIRS 08/22/1998 15Z-21Z
Mesoscale Model Version 5 (MM5)/MM5
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

This item is part of these series:
TRMM 3D Hurricanes
Narrated Movies
Goddard Shorts

GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Atmospheric Phenomena >> Hurricanes
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NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version