Researchers are using a $3 million National Science Foundation grant in an effort to learn why sudden, dramatic changes occur in the intensity of hurricanes. The study will focus on how the interaction between a storm’s outer rain bands and its inner eye can influence abrupt fluctuations in its strength. Beginning on Aug. 15 through the rest of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, P-3 Orion aircraft from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Navy fly into hurricanes at sea armed with sophisticated Doppler radar and GPS technology.
The planes will record wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and other data to help scientists build a new computer model on hurricane intensity. The research team for the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment, or RAINEX, includes the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; the University of Washington; the National Center for Atmospheric Research; NOAA; and the U.S. Navy.