NOAA 2004-R306
Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2004
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has signed a $3.7 million cooperative agreement with the University of New Hampshire’s Complex Systems Research Center. Under the agreement, the university will complete the design of a key sensor that will be used in Balloonwinds. The instrument will demonstrate how to measure wind speed and wind direction from high altitudes. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The agreement, which will be critical to improving NOAA’s weather forecasts began Jan. 1. It will end exactly one year later. It is an effort by the University of New Hampshire and NOAA’s Satellites and Information Service to develop new ways to obtain wind data captured by the agency’s geostationary and polar-orbiting spacecraft to better locate and predict the development and movement of storm systems.

“This cooperative agreement will help scientists use technology to focus on wind speed and direction which are factors in tracking where storms are headed and how fast they are moving,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and NOAA administrator. “NOAA and the Bush Administration are committed to working with academic institutions to improve our awareness, appreciation and understanding of the environment.”

The university has developed and implemented ground-based instruments using similar technology by operating Groundwinds New Hampshire and Groundwinds Hawaii Doppler Wind Lidars in recent years. (Lidar stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and is a method to determine the position, speed or other characteristics of remote objects by analyzing laser light reflected from those objects.)

“The agreement sets the stage for using new technologies that can be flown on future NOAA satellites,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellites and Information Service. “Today our satellites can measure temperature and humidity at many different heights throughout the atmosphere - we would like to do the same with wind. This demonstration project will pave the way for using more wind data to improve weather forecast models on a global scale.”

Both the New Hampshire and Hawaii systems serve as technology testbeds to provide observations of winds, clouds and aerosols to support atmospheric and weather research.

NOAA’s Satellites and Information Service is the nation’s primary source of space-based oceanographic, meteorological and climate data. It operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for ocean and weather observation and forecasting, climate monitoring and other environmental applications. Some of the oceanographic applications include sea-surface temperature for hurricane and weather forecasting and sea-surface heights for El Niño prediction.

The agency also operates three data centers which house global databases in oceanography, climatology, solid Earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and paleoclimatology.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources. As part of NOAA’s Strategic Plan, NOAA’s Satellites and Information Service is committed to seeking valuable input to build and sustain strategic national and international NOAA partnerships through this program.

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