Earth Science News  





.
SHAKE AND BLOW
Supercomputer Reproduces A Cyclone's Birth

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Terra satellite captured Cyclone Nargis in early May 2008. At its most intense point, the category 4 storm, later simulated by Shen's model, boasted winds of 130 miles an hour before coming ashore in Myanmar on May 2. Credit: NASA.
by Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 22, 2010
As a teen in his native Taiwan, Bo-wen Shen observed helplessly as typhoon after typhoon pummeled the small island country. Without advanced forecasting systems, the storms left a trail of human loss and property destruction in their wake. Determined to find ways to stem the devastation, Shen chose a career studying tropical weather and atmospheric science.

Now a NASA-funded research scientist at the University of Maryland-College Park, Shen has employed NASA's Pleiades supercomputer and atmospheric data to simulate tropical cyclone Nargis, which devastated Myanmar in 2008. The result is the first model to replicate the formation of the tropical cyclone five days in advance.

To save lives from the high winds, flooding, and storm surges of tropical cyclones (also known as hurricanes and typhoons), forecasters need to give as much advance warning as possible and the greatest degree of accuracy about when and where a storm will occur.

In Shen's retrospective simulation, he was able to anticipate the storm five days in advance of its birth, a critical forewarning in a region where the meteorology and monitoring of cyclones is hampered by a lack of data.

At the heart of Shen's work is an advanced computer model that could improve our understanding of the predictability of tropical cyclones. The research team uses the model to run millions of numbers - atmospheric conditions like wind speed, temperature, and moisture - through a series of equations.

This results in digital data of the cyclone's location and atmospheric conditions that are plotted on geographical maps.

Scientists study the maps and data from the model and compare them against real observations of a past storm (like Nargis) to evaluate the model's accuracy. The more the model reflects the actual storm results, the greater confidence researchers have that a particular model can be used to paint a picture of what the future might look like.

"To do hurricane forecasting, what's really needed is a model that can represent the initial weather conditions - air movements and temperatures, and precipitation - and simulate how they evolve and interact globally and locally to set a cyclone in motion," said Shen, whose study appeared online last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research -Atmospheres.

"We know what's happening across very large areas. So, we need really good, high-resolution simulations with the ability to detail conditions across the smallest possible areas. We've marked several forecasting milestones since 2004, and we can now compute a storm's fine-scale details to 10 times the level of detail than we could with traditional climate models."

The cyclone's birth prediction is possible because the supercomputer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., can process atmospheric data for global and regional conditions, as well as the fine-scale measurements like those around the eye of a storm.

NASA built the Pleiades supercomputer in 2008, incrementally boosting its processing "brain power" since to the capacity of 81,920 desktop CPUs. The upgrades laid the groundwork for Shen and others to gradually improve simulations of varying aspects of a storm - from simulations of the path, then intensity, and now the actual genesis of a storm.

The improved simulations can translate into greater accuracy and less guesswork in assessing when a storm is forming.

"There is a tendency to over-warn beyond the actual impact area of a storm, leading people to lose confidence in the warning system and to ignore warnings that can save their lives," said study co-author Robert Atlas, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, Fla., and former chief meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"Although we've seen tremendous forecasting advances in the past 10 years - with potential to improve predictions of a cyclone's path and intensity - they're still not good enough for all of the life-and-death decisions that forecasters have to make. Tropical cyclones have killed nearly two million people in the last 200 years, so this remaining 'cone of uncertainty' in our predictions is unacceptable."

As promising as the new model may be, Atlas cautions that "Shen's model worked for one cyclone, but it doesn't mean it'll work in real-time for future storms. The research model Shen and predecessors at NASA have developed sets the stage for NOAA's researchers to hone and test the new capability with their own models."

Shen's use of real data from Nargis - one of the 10 deadliest cyclones on record - with the new global model also yields insights into the dynamics of weather conditions over time and across different areas that generate such storms.

"In the last few years, high-resolution global modeling has evolved our understanding of the physics behind storms and its interaction with atmospheric conditions more rapidly than in the past several decades combined," explained Shen, who presented the study last month before peers at the American Geophysical Union's Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Taipei, Taiwan.

"We can 'see' a storm's physical processes with this advanced global model - like both the release of heat associated with rainfall and changes in environmental atmospheric flow, which was very difficult until now."




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
NASA's Laboratory for Atmospheres
Pleiades Supercomputer
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
SHAKE AND BLOW
Death toll from typhoon rises to 76 in Philippines
Manila (AFP) July 20, 2010
The death toll from Typhoon Conson in the Philippines rose to 76 on Tuesday as rescuers pulled more bodies from the sea, with dozens more still missing and feared dead, authorities said. The number of missing stood at 72 as coast guard and navy boats were joined by aircraft in scouring the waters nearly a week after the typhoon hit, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said. "The s ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


SHAKE AND BLOW
Asia security forum to boost regional disaster relief

Voodoo rite draws Haitian faithful praying for comfort

27 missing after bus plunges off road in southwest China

The Life-Saving Capabilities Of Storm Shelters

SHAKE AND BLOW
Sharp to join e-reader business war

Toward A New Generation Of Superplastics

SSTL Kicks Off Small Satellite For Kazakhstan

Andrews Space And Honeybee Robotics Team To Develop Spacecraft Control Moment Gyroscopes

SHAKE AND BLOW
Jordan River too polluted for baptisms: eco group

Stormwater Model To Inform Regulators On Future Development Projects

Aquatic Dead Zones

Findings Overturn Old Theory Of Phytoplankton Growth

SHAKE AND BLOW
Satellite giving scientists 'ice' insights

Himalayan ice shrivels in global warming: exhibit

Footloose Glaciers Crack Up

Arctic Climate May Be More Sensitive To Warming Than Thought

SHAKE AND BLOW
Congress taking up school lunch bill

Mapping Out Pathways To Better Soybeans

Hospitals urge antiobiotic-free meat

Thailand to unleash swarm of wasps on crop pest

SHAKE AND BLOW
One dead, dozens injured in southern Iran quake: reports

China floods deadliest in 10 years, conditions set to worsen

Supercomputer Reproduces A Cyclone's Birth

Death toll from typhoon rises to 76 in Philippines

SHAKE AND BLOW
Nigeria's oil spills dwarf gulf disaster

Rebels sign U.N. anti-child soldier deal

Dutch judgment in Ivory Coast toxic waste case

Kenya goes hi-tech to curb election fraud

SHAKE AND BLOW
Facebook membership hits 500 million mark

The Friend Of My Enemy Is My Enemy

The Protective Brain Hypothesis Is Confirmed

Scientists study brain's 'body map'


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement