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Dr. Amber E Emory from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Briefs a Global Hawk UAS Results at NASA Program Review on March 15th

NOAA UAS Program’s support acknowledged in the EPOCH study of East Pacific Origin and Characteristics of Hurricanes

The impacts of Harvey, Irma, and Maria during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season re-emphasized the critical need for accurate operational forecasts. The combined NASA East Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes (EPOCH) and NOAA UAS field campaign during August 2017 was the fourth campaign in a series of dual agency partnerships between NASA and NOAA to improve forecasting accuracy in tropical cyclogenesis and rapid intensification. A brief history of Global Hawk (GH) hurricane field campaigns, including GRIP (2010), HS3 (2012-2014), NOAA-SHOUT (2015-2016) and EPOCH (2017), will show the incremental steps taken over the last eight years to bring the GH from a research platform to a candidate for operational hurricane reconnaissance. GH dropsondes were assimilated into the ECMWF and HWRF forecast models during the 2015-2016 NOAA SHOUT campaigns.

EPOCH marked the first time that GH dropsondes were assimilated in real-time into NOAA’s GFS forecast model. Early results show that assimilating dropsonde data significantly increases skill in predicting intensity change, which is game changing since the National Hurricane Center intensity error trend has remained virtually unchanged, particularly at 24 hours, over the last 25 years. The results from the past few years suggest that a paradigm shift of sampling the environment with a high-altitude, long-duration UAS like the GH that is capable of deploying up to 90 dropsondes ahead of and over the top of a developing or strengthening tropical cyclone could produce the best return on hurricane forecast predictions in subsequent years. Recommendations for the future, including lessons learned and the potential for R2O transition was discussed.  A briefed big success was: Science Flight #1 into TS Franklin marked first time dropsonde data were transmitted and assimilated into GFS operational models. Current work underway for quantitative measure of improvement to intensity forecasts focusing on Hurricane Harvey.

EPOCH Science Team and Collaborators: Matt McLinden (GSFC), Mathias Schreier (JPL), Gary Wick (NOAA), Jason Dunion (NOAA), Pete Black (NOAA UAS Program), Steve Guimond (GSFC), Anthony Didlake (Penn State), Jason Sippel (NOAA HRD), John Walker (NOAA UAS Program)

Questions may be directed to Dr. Amber E. Emory –

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