7C.5 NOAA and NASA collaborative efforts using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Tropical Cyclones: Recent successes and a future path forward

Tuesday, 29 April 2008: 2:15 PM
Palms H (Wyndham Orlando Resort)
Joseph J. Cione, NOAA/HRD, Miami, FL; and P. Turlington

Since 2003, NOAA and NASA have worked together to establish low-altitude long endurance UAS observations in tropical cyclones. Due to the severe safety risks associated with manned reconnaissance missions, continuous observations within the high wind-storm environment at very low altitudes (<300m) are only possible using UAS. Being able to routinely obtain these critical low level observations are likely to have immediate payoffs (e.g. NHC improved assessment of the maximum surface wind) as well as longer term benefits (e.g. improved physical understanding and better future forecasts of intensity change).

Over the past 2 years, NOAA and NASA have experienced two successful UAS missions into tropical storm Opheila (2005) and Hurricane Noel (2007). In both cases, the UAS obtained continuous, near-surface thermodynamic and wind observations at altitudes as low as 350m (Ophelia) and 85m (Noel). The latter setting an aircraft TC reconnaissance altitude record .

Analyses using UAS observations from both storms will be presented. In addition, NOAA and NASA's upcoming UAS plans for the 2008 hurricane season (and beyond) will also be discussed.

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