Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Expanding tropics indicates need for CYGNSS data

Posted: May 27, 2014

Expanding tropics indicates need for CYGNSS data

A recent study published in Nature highlights the changes in the position of tropical cyclones over the past three decades, noting a shift in location away from the equator as the climate warms.

The study is entitled, “The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity.”

“The authors note that it is difficult to establish the initial or final cyclone position because ‘measures of tropical cyclone intensity are considered to be highly uncertain in the global data,’” Assistant Professor Derek Posselt says of the study. “This is because observations of hurricane winds close to the storm center are infrequent and often inaccurate. CYGNSS will enable far more frequent observations of near surface wind speed in regions close to the storm center, and, as such, will allow much more accurate estimates of storm intensity as well as the time of storm formation and decay.”

As tropical cyclones move towards the poles, locations that are not accustomed to these storms will need accurate data, such as the information that will be collected by CYGNSS, to prepare for the possibility of extreme weather events.

Posselt is the Deputy PI for the CYGNSS mission. The mission team is compromised of several additional members of the University of Michigan community, including atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences professors Chris Ruf (the PI) and Aaron Ridley as well as space physics research laboratory (SPRL) staff members Bruce Block, Linda Chadwick, Steve Musko, Jon Van Noord and Damen Provost.

CYGNSS will use a constellation of eight microsatellites in low-Earth orbit to receive both direct and reflected signals from GPS satellites. The direct signals pinpoint CYGNSS observatory positions, while the reflected signals respond to ocean surface roughness, from which wind speed is retrieved.

The mission will study the relationship between ocean surface properties, moist atmospheric thermodynamics, radiation and convective dynamics to determine how a tropical cyclone forms and whether or not it will strengthen, and if so by how much.

To read the study, please click here.

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