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Lightning data to help hurricane predictions.

Researchers are exploring how long-range lightning data potentially can improve storm forecasting. 'Through the ingest of lightning and storm balloon data, our project aims to increase our ability to map water vapor and heat associated with condensation of water in hurricane storm clouds in the core of the storm. In the process, details of the initial storm circulation in the hurricane model will be improved," explains Steven Businger, chair of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

In future years, the way the lightning data are ingested into the hurricane model will be refined to provide a more-sophisticated and balanced approach that improves the way in which individual storm clouds evolve in the model. A number of poorly forecast recent hurricanes will be targeted as case studies to spur improvement in simulation and prediction.

Businger has been a pioneer in storm balloon development and suggests that floating storm balloons at low levels into a hurricane will provide crucial data on the energy exchange between hurricanes and the ocean surface beneath. The goal is to construct affordable storm balloons that possess the needed buoyancy control to allow them to remain near the ocean surface as they move towards the eye of the hurricane. They also contain GPS for position information and iridium satellite communication to send data back on the energy exchange that governs hurricane intensity.

"Hurricanes are the most destructive storms on Earth and our ability to accurately forecast changes in their strength before landfall has not improved significantly in 20 years," stresses Businger.

Caption: Prof. Steven Businger and NOAA's Randy Johnson launch a storm balloon from Long Island, N.Y.

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Title Annotation:Weather Balloons
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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