It is hard to believe that, today, and with the available technologies, there is a way to measure the pressure at sea level during hurricanes. NASA researchers, however, are working on a system to improve forecasting. The device measures the pressure developed near the ocean surface, an element which is of fundamental importance in the formation and evolution of hurricanes.
The radar system is a prototype for the barometric differential absorption (DIABAR) and make its second flight earlier this year. Tools to measure the air pressure at sea level is an important missing link in the study of storms, says Dr. Bing Lin, atmospheric scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
“The pressure is a major force of weather systems, especially in extreme events such as hurricanes. For particularly violent storms, such as tropical, the predictions of the intensity and direction can be significantly improved by measuring the pressure.”
Dr. Lin hopes to be able to measure the air pressure at sea level and through the flight of aircraft above the ocean surface, and through data collected by satellites. The combination of these two elements provide sufficient information to significantly improve the ability of forecasters to determine the intensity and direction of a hurricane.
“Frequent measurements on the broad surface of the sea are to be considered indispensable,” says Lin. “These measures can not be carried out by buoys or probes placed on aircraft. The only way, currently, is derived from the use of remote sensing technologies using unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite measurements. ”
The first flight
The device DIABAR was initially released in 2009 on a Navy helicopter MH-60S at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. “The results of the first flight were enromi,” Lin said. The next step, planned for this year, is to test the device on an airship called the Bullet ™ Class 580, the largest airship in the world. The vehicle is designed to be powered by biofuels made from algae, can produce a top speed of 74 mph and reach altitudes up to 20,000 feet.