NOAA to operate USVs in hurricane data gathering mission

NOAA to operate USVs in hurricane data gathering mission

Photo: Saildrone

US-based unmanned systems company Saildrone will provide five unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in gathering data on hurricanes in the US Virgin Islands.

The USVs will be deployed this coming August to gather key data throughout the 2021 Tropical Atlantic hurricane season. The craft will be equipped with specially designed “hurricane wings” to enable them to operate in extreme conditions.

The Saildrone USVs will sail into the paths of hurricanes to provide valuable real-time observations for numerical hurricane prediction models and to collect new insights into how these large and destructive weather cells grow and intensify.

The mission aims to improve understanding and predictability of tropical cyclone intensity changes and advance knowledge of the ocean-atmosphere interactions that fuel them.

The USVs will provide new in situ data to the NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML). The data will also be valuable to other groups such as the National Weather Service, which will use this data to improve forecasting, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS), which will work to align data findings from other observing platforms, such as gliders.

The vehicles will transmit meteorological and oceanographic data in real time. These data will include air temperature and relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, water temperature and salinity, sea surface temperature, and wave height and duration.

The data will also be sent to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Telecommunication System (GTS) and disseminated to all of the major forecast centres worldwide, including the NOAA.

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