Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TTUHRT in 2012

Well its been a while... but with Tropical Storm Debby crawling along now is as good a time as any to fill everyone in on our plans for 2012. As Debby was starting to develop in the Southern Gulf of Mexico we commenced our first mass test of all StickNet probes. Every probe was deployed at the TTU Wind Science and Engineering Field site. We use these "mass tests" to ensure all probes are in good working order and to establish what small bias errors may exist in individual sensors as all probes are sampling in general the same environment during these tests.

On the StickNet side of things, we still have our fleet of 24 StickNet probes, 12 of which transmit data in near-real time. Unfortunately, we still have not found funding to upgrade our web infrastructure to provide this information to the general public. The data however is ingested into NOAA Hurricane Research Division's H*Wind windfield model and available to the National Hurricane Center and local Weather Forecast Offices of the National Weather Service. StickNet probes will continue to provide documentation of landfalling hurricane wind fields and will also support research work by TTUHRT field coordinator and Wind Science and Engineering PhD student Rich Krupar. He is examining different techniques to estimate surface wind gust characteristics using WSR-88D radar information. StickNet probes and the good spatial coverage of their observations provide validation. In addition, a probe will be deployed near the closest WSR-88D radar to evaluate Velocity Azimuth Display (VAD) wind retrieval techniques. We will also continue to strive to collect more true marine exposure data as StickNet probes have led to quite a bit more data from the immediate shoreline which is vital in determining how hurricane winds transition from ocean to land.

Big news in the land of the TTUKA radars, each will be getting a new antenna this summer. The upgraded and larger antenna (dish) will allow for even more sensitivity and resolution as we continue to push the frontiers of these mobile radar systems. With this upgrade though it does mean that likely only one radar will be available for hurricane landfall operations during the 2012 season.

And what really matters... advancing our scientific understanding. Dr. Brian Hirth and co-authors (including our Director, Dr. John Schroeder) recently had a journal research paper accepted for publication in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Weather and Forecasting. This paper focuses on his dissertation research using SMART-Radar data collected during the landfall of Hurricane Frances (2004) to examine how the characteristics of hurricane winds change from the ocean surface to flowing over land mass both in the horizontal and vertical. This is a significant step in understanding how the flow changes and what impacts it may have on how we evaluate coastal building codes. Also myself and co-authors had a paper examining GPS Dropwindsonde and radar derived vertical wind profiles accepted for publication in Weather and Forecasting as well. This work has also helped in determining additional research direction in attempting to use the vertical profile characteristics to forecast expected surface wind gusts.

Well there's a quick update on what we are up to... be sure to follow us on Facebook as we continue to 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

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