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Source: Popular Science
It runs on waves and sent wind speed and other weather data to satellites for researchers to use in real time.
So NOAA deployed a Wave Glider named Mercury in the Atlantic earlier this week about 100 miles east of Tom’s River, N.J. For that’s just off the soon-to-be devastated Jersey Shore.
Mercury met Hurricane Sandy head on. Thereby streaming back realtime data on the storm. All as it came charging inland on Monday. Most notably, Mercury recorded winds as high as 70 knots (80 miles per hour) and a plunge in barometric pressure of over 54.3 millibars, troughing at 946 millibars just as Sandy was making landfall.
For that’s along with faster moving counterparts (made from modified EMILY robots). Those that can actually keep pace with a storm (the slower-moving Wave Gliders are meant to position themselves in front of a storm as it blows over).
The data they collect will go a long way. Especially toward helping meteorologists improve their understanding. That’s of how different storms develop and the models they use to predict their paths and intensities—and hopefully save lives.
Tropical Storm Isaac is a strange storm. As it steams toward New Orleans today–it’s projected to make landfall tomorrow, seven years to the day after Katrina came ashore–it still lacks the kind of coherent organization typical of similar tropical storms. At least, that’s what a couple of leading researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are telling PopSci today.
But in its strangeness Isaac isn’t really a strange case at all. It’s tough to tell what these kinds of weather systems are going to do next, and that’s a major problem for forecasters attempting to advise those in the storm’s (projected) path. That’s why NOAA is sending in the robots.
Meteorologists tasked with forecasting the path and intensity of a given storm can only work with the data that they have, and right now there is a huge gap in that data. Authorities like NOAA gather storm data from a few different sources–from aircraft circling the weather system from tens of thousands of feet, from stationary weather buoys scattered throughout the Gulf of Mexico, from Earth-orbiting satellites–giving scientists a great view of the area around the storm. But there is virtually no data streaming to shore from inside the storm itself. The space between a growing hurricane and the ocean surface is no place to hang around. It’s also where the most important data is.
The first, Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider, is envisioned as a persistent surveillance platform. I mean an army of mobile monitoring stations. Those that will remain at sea for the duration of a hurricane season. All waiting to swarm into the path of a developing storm. The second–Hydronalix’s Emergency Integrated Life Saving Lanyard, or EMILY (a 2010 PopSci Best of What’s New award winner). For it will be capable of tracking the storm itself for days at a time. So that’s also streaming continuous data directly from the center of the storm. Especially to researchers ashore.
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