FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patricia Viets
A team of scientists will conduct experiments aboard a "hurricane hunter" aircraft flying out of St. John's, Newfoundland, in February, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today. The goal of the experiments is to improve measurements of ocean surface wind speed and direction taken by satellite sensors that will be used by NOAA.
"The satellite instruments, known as scatterometers, provide wind speed data that are used in marine forecasts and numerical weather prediction models," said principal investigator Paul Chang, from NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.
The team will spend 67 hours, in seven-hour missions, aboard a WP-3D aircraft in high winds over the North Atlantic and the Labrador Sea.
Several instruments will be installed onboard the aircraft, including a Ku-band scatterometer, C-band scatterometer, and a Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer. The instrumentation is designed to measure the roughness of the ocean surface in order to determine surface wind speed.
In addition, GPS dropsondes will be deployed during the flights, supplying additional verification data.
The data will be used to validate scatterometers
aboard the European Remote Sensing Satellite, ERS2, and the one
that is part of NASA's QuickScat mission scheduled for launch
this spring. The flights are part of NOAA's contributions to
the overall validation programs of ERS-2 and QuickScat. The experiment
is called SHOWS, for Scatterometer High Ocean Wind Speed.
The WP-3D aircraft, best known for flying into the eyes of hurricanes, is part of NOAA's fleet of research aircraft operated and managed by the Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air force Base in Tampa, Fla. AOC is part of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers.