Tropical Cyclone Research with Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft: Future Plans and  Key Results from Previous NASA/NOAA Field Campaigns 

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 1:30 PM
131AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Michael Black, NOAA/AOML/HRD, Miami, FL; and R. E. Hood and G. A. Wick

Since 2010, NOAA has been involved with the NASA Global Hawk (GH), high altitude (>60 kft), long endurance (>24h), unmanned aircraft that have been flown in NASA-led field campaigns that target tropical cyclones (TCs). These were the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP, 2010) and the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3, 2012,2013,2014) experiments. The NOAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program has collaborated with NASA with the GH aircraft for research intended to better understand the TC and its environment and to make gains in forecasts of TC track and intensity. NOAA UAS partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the installation and deployment of a dropsonde system for the GH which has been flown since 2011. The dropsonde system is nearly identical to the operational version used on NOAA and Air Force aircraft and is a mature technology that is currently being used semi-operationally, including assimilation of the data in real time for NWS operational and NOAA and NAVY research models. Other instrumentation on the GH include weather radar systems, microwave and infrared sounders, LIDAR systems, high-resolution imagery, among others.

Highlights from unique flights during GRIP, including the first-ever UAS overflight of a TC (Earl, 2010) and a long-endurance flight (>15 h on station) over Karl (2010) will be presented. For HS3, analyses of the dropsonde observations and key modeling results from assimilation of the dropsonde data will be discussed.

In 2014, NOAA began a 3-year project, Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT), to quantify the influence of UAS data on high-impact weather prediction and assess the operational effectiveness of UAS to help mitigate the risk of potential satellite observing gaps. TC research is a primary component of the SHOUT operational plan. Key elements of the SHOUT plan that are focused on TC research and forecasts, including NOAA-led GH missions and possible future NASA Earth Venture field campaigns in partnership with NOAA UAS, will also be presented.