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GPS Tracking Systems Helping Hurricane Research

hurricaneThe constellation of GPS satellites orbiting miles above the Earth make our lives so much easier even though none of us ever physically see the technological marvels. GPS tracking and navigational technology is the driving force behind the innovative routing and direction programs such as Google Earth, numerous fitness applications and about a million other things. GPS technology is critical in so many components of our daily lives that many of us take for granted the detailed data provided through low level radio frequencies, but hurricane researchers are certainly not one of those groups of people.

On the eastern seaboard and in states surrounding the Gulf of Mexico the month of August is identified as the start of hurricane season. This means researchers are using every available tool to learn more about the conditions that cause tropical storms and of course once those storms evolve into hurricanes how powerful they are. How real time GPS tracking and navigational technology is providing assistance to hurricane researchers is by giving the investigators data such as the direction and strength of wind speeds, data calculated by GPS signals bouncing around in the tropical storms.

According to a hurricane researcher working at the NASA Langley Research Center, the new technique that uses GPS technology to gather data regarding hurricane activity is both extremely precise and cost-effective. This is because the previous method of collecting data on hurricanes involved using dropsondes into a active tropical storm or hurricane via what is known as a Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Basically, the old technique used an aircraft that released tubes filled with different meteorological devices and instruments used to calculate things such as pressure, air and water temperature and humidity in the air. Although this technique had been effective at gathering data related to hurricane strength and the conditions involved in the development of the storm, the cost of such projects limited the amount of dropsondes available and therefore left holes in the data. The more modern method of using GPS technology will not only be more affordable but fill those once empty holes with more data!

The new GPS tracking and navigational tools used to gather information about storm activity is just the first step in helping hurricane researchers better understand the twisted and beautiful mind of Mother Nature. This is because by 2016 the brains at NASA intend on launching a smaller set of satellites into space that will be used specifically to measure what are known as reflected GPS signals to provide even more accurate data about storm activity from outer space. This new GPS satellite system is known as the Cyclone Global Satellite System.

With more and more technological tools being called upon to help researchers it is only a matter of time before humanity will have a more complete understanding of the conditions that cause, grow and change hurricane activity. The data from GPS will place a significant part in this understanding which will most certainly help in providing the most detailed and concrete weather forecasts.

Source: ABC News Charlestown

 

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