U.S. to Collect Hurricane Data for Computer Models

computer models, NOAA, Saildrone, data collection, hurricanes

The U.S. NOAA, in partnership with Saildrone, is collecting data on hurricanes to hopefully build computer models that can accurately predict what’s coming.

  • Humans have done so much damage to the planet that we’ve disrupted weather patterns.
  • This disturbance has made it difficult to predict extreme weather events, putting millions at risk.

The U.S. is partnering with Saildrone on weather data collection to build computer models that can better predict hurricanes, possibly saving the lives of millions.

Human activities have had a large effect on the Earth’s climate, increasing the average temperature in the long term. In turn, the increase in temperature—global warming—disrupted weather patterns. As a result, we experience more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and changes in precipitation. Their combination is what we know as climate change.

But It’s Not THAT Hot

Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has been increasing by 1° C (1.8°F). But that doesn’t mean that we exclusively experience hot days. We’re seeing it in the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and storms.

The Earth’s natural weather patterns make predicting the weather difficult. Weather forecasters can, for example, predict a heatwave in a specific region, but they have difficulties determining whether it is localized and its duration. Although it doesn’t make a difference if it’s a mild weather event, the more extreme it becomes, the more critical predicting these details becomes as well.

Many institutions are building computer models that will analyze data and accurately predict the weather. But they need data.

To Weather the Storm

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with the American data company Saildrone, is collecting data about oceanic and atmospheric conditions. Saildrone deploys specialized “wind-propelled vehicles” that weather the high winds and waves of developing hurricanes.

The drones closely resemble sailboats and are equipped with solar-powered meteorological and oceanographic sensors. The data is not exclusive to the hurricane, as it can also pick up some beneath the waves and analyze ocean currents. Scientists then measure the path that a hurricane is taking, as well as intensity changes over time.

According to Saildrone’s director of mission management, Julia Paxton, the specialized drone company and NOAA are focusing on “studying why and how hurricanes intensify so that in the future we can improve hurricane modeling.”

The goal is to develop computer models that can help scientists accurately predict the important details of a hurricane event.

To Save a Life

Extreme weather events are extremely dangerous, especially if the community is not ready for them, resulting in the deaths of hundreds and thousands in damages. Weather-predicting computer models have the potential to save lives. Early warnings allow people to evacuate floods, avoid heatstroke, or secure their homes. This precious time to prepare can drastically reduce injuries and deaths. Emergency services can also strategically position resources based on forecasts, ensuring a faster and more effective response.

Final Thoughts

We’ve spent years damaging the planet, resulting in climate change. And now, all we can realistically do is try our best to weather the storms until something gives out. Hopefully, using computer models and other advanced technology, we manage to heal the planet enough to buy us time to further fix what we’ve broken.  

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