Constantly scanning the Earth’s surface, the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) allows scientists to both track tropical cyclones and forecast their progression. Used by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), and tropical cyclone centers in Japan, India, Australia and other countries, detailed microwave information provides data on the location, pattern and intensity of rainfall.
Complimenting the GMI is GPM’s Dual-requency Precipitation Radar (DPR), which turns two dimensional images into 3D by providing data on vertical rainfall structure. Scientists use DPR data to verify their tropical cyclone computer models. With the Ku-band and Ka-band, the DPR also measures light rainfall and falling snow, which account for a significant fraction of precipitation especially in middle and high latitudes. They also use the data to understand the distribution and movement of latent heat throughout the storm, particularly in the development of hot towers in the wall of clouds around the eye, which have been linked to rapid intensification. Together, GPM’s GMI and DPR data help scientists establish key characteristics of where, how and why rain falls in tropical cyclones as well as to better understand storm structure, intensity and the environmental conditions that cause them.
The GPM Mission observes tropical cyclone tracking and forecasting capabilities into the middle and high latitudes, covering the area from 65° S to 65°N — from about the Antarctic Circle to the Arctic Circle. This orbit provides new insight into how and why some tropical cyclones intensify and others weaken as they move from tropical to mid-latitude systems. The sensors onboard other satellites within the GPM constellation along with GPM Core Observatory sensors provide the detailed and global observations needed to estimate, monitor and forecast extreme rainfall that may trigger natural hazards, such as flooding or landslides.
TRMM Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Yasi on February 1st to 3rd, 2011 (left to right) as it made landfall over Queensland, Australia. TRMM’s PR and TMI instruments observed Cyclone Yasi as it developed from a Category 3 tropical cyclone on Feb. 1st (left), to a Category 5 event when it made landfall with wind gusts reported at up to 186 mph on Feb. 2nd (middle), and then finally as it began to dissipate on Feb. 3rd (right).
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Tropical Cyclone Articles
Rain, snow, hail, ice, and every mix in between make up the precipitation that touches everyone on our planet. But precipitation doesn't fall equally in all places around the world, as seen in NASA's new animation that captures every shower, snowstorm and tropical cyclone over a six-day period in August 2014. The time lapse was created from data captured by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite mission, now just over a year old, which scientists are using to better understand freshwater resources, natural disasters, crop health and more.
On December 5, 2014 (1032UTC) the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Core Observatory flew over Typhoon Hagupit as it headed towards the Philippines. A few hours later at 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST), Super Typhoon Hagupit's maximum sustained winds were near 130 knots (149.6 mph/241 kph), down from 150 knots (172 mph/277.8 kph). Typhoon-force winds extend out 40 nautical miles (46 miles/74 km) from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend out to 120 miles (138 miles/222 km).
On October 16th, 2014 (1342 UTC) the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Core Observatory flew over Hurricane Gonzalo as it headed towards Bermuda. Hurricane Gonzalo remains a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph. As of 12:00 UTC (8:00a.m. EDT) on Friday, October 17th, the National Hurricane Center forecast located the storm about 195 miles south southwest of Bermuda, where a hurricane warning is in effect.
On October 6, 2014 (0215 UTC) the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Core Observatory flew over Typhoon Phanfone as it made landfall over Tokyo, Japan. At this point, Typhoon Phanfone is category 3 with maximum sustained winds at 127 miles per hour (mph) and gusts reaching 155 mph. Phanfone caused landslides and flooding throughout Japan.
Hurricane Simon appeared to be keeping a secret before it rapidly intensified on Oct. 4, but the Global Precipitation Measurement or GPM satellite was able uncover it. On Oct. 4 at 0940 UTC (5:40 a.m. EDT) observations by the Ku-band radar on the GPM satellite suggested that the Eastern Pacific Ocean's Hurricane Simon was hiding a very compact eyewall hours before the National Hurricane Center detected rapid intensification of Simon's surface winds. The GPM satellite was launched in February of this year and is managed by both NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.