MIT Researchers Find an Easy Way to Predict Hurricanes by Hydrophones

by OldSailor on April 11, 2008


hurricane_1 hurricane_2

Before proceeding to know about prediction of Hurricanes, let me tell you……….

What are Hurricanes ?

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone–an organized rotating weather system that develops in the tropics. Hurricanes rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons, and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones.

Tropical cyclones are classified as:

  • Tropical Depression: An organized system of persistent clouds and thunderstorms with a closed low-level circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.
  • Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a well defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots).
  • Hurricane: An intense tropical weather system with a well defined circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher.

What are the impacts of Hurricanes ?

  • Storm Surge: Storm surge is a large dome of water often 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. The surge of high water topped by waves is devastating. The stronger the hurricane and the shallower the offshore water, the higher the surge will be. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property.
  • Storm Tide: The storm tide is the combination of the storm surge and the astronomical tide. If the storm surge arrives at high tide, the water height will be even greater. For example, as a hurricane moves ashore, a 15-foot surge added to the 2-foot high tide creates a storm tide of 17 feet. This mound of water, topped by battering waves, moves ashore along an area of the coastline as much as 100 miles wide. The combination of the storm surge,
    battering waves and high winds is deadly and causes great property damage.


Losses due to Hurricanes in US

How often Hurricanes form ?

On average each year, 10 tropical storms, 6 of which become hurricanes, develop in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico. In a typical 3-year span, the U.S. coastline is struck on average five times by hurricanes, two of which will be designated as major hurricanes.

How to predict and track Hurricanes ?

  • Satellites: Geostationary satellites orbiting the earth at an altitude of about 22,000 miles above the equator provide imagery day and night. This satellite imagery is a valuable tool helping to provide estimates of the location, size and intensity of a storm and its surrounding environment.
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft: The U.S. Air Force Reserve provides most of the hurricane reconnaissance used by the National Hurricane Center. Pilots fly into the core of a hurricane to measure wind, pressure, temperature and humidity as well as to provide an accurate location of the center of the hurricane. NOAA also flies aircraft into hurricanes to aid scientists in better understanding these storms and to improve forecast capabilities
  • Radar: When a hurricane gets close to the coast, it is monitored by land-based weather radars. The NWS Doppler weather radars, equipped with the latest advanced technology, add new dimensions to hurricane warning capabilities. It provides detailed information on hurricane wind fields and its changes.Local NWS offices are able to provide accurate short-term warnings for floods, inland high winds and any other weather hazards associated with a tropical cyclone.

Findings by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Now Nicholas Makris, Associate professor of mechanical and ocean engineering and director of MIT’s Laboratory for Undersea Remote Sensing says, there is an easy way to predict and track Hurricanes by using Hydrophones (underwater microphones).

The report says that

  • by positioning hydrophones in hurricane prone area deep below the sea surface, wind state can be measured by the intensity of the sound
  • the swirling wind, churning up waves and turning the water into a bubble-filled froth, produce a rushing sound whose volume is a direct indicator of the storm’s destructive power
  • if this comes through, prediction and tracking of Hurricanes would be cheaper and less risky

Click here to read the full report of MIT.

Click here to take a virtual tour of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and Robin Storm to read more about Hurricanes.

Source on Hurricanes: NOAA

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