NASA Hurricane Forecasting – GRIP

Tim Konrad
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July 27, 2010

The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes mission, or GRIP, will use 15 cutting edge instruments, a Global Hawk UAV, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 and a Martin WB-57F Canberra to gain a new look at how hurricanes form, strengthen, and weaken. This will be NASA’s first major US-based hurricane field campaign since 2001.

This August and September, NASA is leading an aircraft campaign that will provide a sustained and unprecedented look at the inner workings of hurricane formation and intensification. The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment will take place from Aug. 15 to Sept. 30 and employ three NASA aircraft flying over the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea to try to answer some of the basic but still lingering questions about how and why hurricanes form and strengthen.

NASA has flown over hurricanes before to gather data on precipitation, winds, convection, temperature and other factors that are known cyclone ingredients. The logistical demands of doing so have only allowed for two to four hours of data collection at a time, a snapshot of a storm that could spin for days. But for the first time, scientists will fly an unmanned drone, outfitted with 3-D radar, a microwave radiometer and other instruments over tropical systems for up to 20 consecutive hours.

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