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Images of Tropical Cyclones and Icebergs

by Terri Gregory, SSEC Public Information Specialist
November 2000

Also In
the News...

In Print

On the Net


Research News


This column includes news received in October.

In the News The National Weather Service in Miami, Florida cited the “UW Objective Dvorak estimate” in a discussion of Hurricane Isaac. The estimate was used to conclude that Isaac, which had diminished in strength, was intensifying and would again become a major hurricane. The estimate was also used to corroborate satellite wind measurements of Hurricane Joyce. The Objective Dvorak technique is developed by the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones group.

The Tropical Cyclones group also serves data from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit on their Web site. Recently AMSU data analyses were used to help elevate Tropical Storm Michael from a depression. James Franklin, forecaster at the National Hurricane Center said that AMSU data of the storm “showed the beginnings of a warm core aloft.” Jeffrey Hawkins of the Naval Research Laboratory called the AMSU data “another excellent tool to assist the hurricane specialist.” He also noted that this kind of system is “always a difficult one to determine when it crosses the boundary from extra-tropical to tropical. AMSU analyses … fill in a piece of the puzzle not available till now.” Steve Lyons, Tropical Program Manager at The Weather Channel, thanks the CIMSS Tropical Cylones group for “the wonderful satellite page all summer and fall. … I am your biggest fan and I treat your information as data.”

Monitoring Icebergs

The Antarctic Sun, a publication about Antarctic research by the folks who do it, used a satellite image in a piece on Ross Ice Shelf icebergs. Josh Landis tells of the University of Chicago project, led by Douglas MacAyeal, that will fly in a team of researchers who will attempt to place weather stations and GPS tracking devices on a couple of the icebergs. Charles Stearns’ Automatic Weather Stations group is part of the effort.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s photojournalist Ernie Mastroianni covered the planned trip that UW–Madison and U. Chicago scientists will make in January. On Monday, October 30, Ernie noted that the icebergs, which have been breaking off the Ross Ice Shelf since March 2000, “offer an unprecedented opportunity for study.” Douglas MacAyeal, University of Chicago glaciologist, and George Weidner and Jonathan Thom of Charles Stearns’ group at UW–Madison will journey to Antarctica to put data-collecting instruments onto some of the icebergs. SSEC’s Matthew Lazzara maintains satellite imagery on the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center’s Web site and has said that wind measurements are particularly important, to help monitor iceberg motion. also featured the effort to place instruments on the icebergs on October 30. Larry O’Hanlon noted that “what they learn will help them refine computer models, which in turn could help them better predict the future behavior of ice islands.”


  • Research Season *Due to the ever-changing nature of, this piece is no longer available.

The New York Times will syndicate the iceberg story published first in Discover magazine. In its October 2000 issue, Discover featured Ross Ice Shelf icebergs that the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center has monitored since March. Jack Fischer told Matthew Lazzara that the story would be sent to about thirty client newspapers throughout the U.S. covered Antarctica’s series of iceberg calvings from the Ross Ice Shelf on October 8. Reference was made to satellite imagery making it possible to monitor new icebergs; the piece linked to the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center.


    *note: as this is now an archived version of the article, some of the links on the page may have changed.

In Print

For More Information GOES Gallery

Images from the CIMSS GOES Gallery will be used in The Human Factor in the Interpretation of Remote Sensing Imagery, edited by R. Hoffman and A. Markman. The images will appear, appropriately, in the chapter, “Skilled Interpretation of Weather Satellite Images,” written by Michael Mogil.




Funding of IceCube, a neutrino telescope proposed to the National Science Foundation, is closer to reality, according to articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (J.Fauber, 10-27) and the Wisconsin State Journal (AP, 10-30). Bob Morse, a physics professor and researcher on the IceCube precursor AMANDA, said that “neutrino telescopes open a new window to the universe not available from conventional astronomy.” SSEC would manage IceCube and provide engineering support.


For More Information WPR



Weather Guys Steve Ackerman (SSEC/CIMSS & AOS) and Jonathan Martin (AOS) appeared on Larry Meiller’s call-in show on WHA Radio on October 30. They received excellent questions on global warming—about thermal dynamics and the Antarctic ice cap, snow tires—the Weather Guys use all-weather radials, the weight of rain—1 inch over an acre equals 108 tons, severe storms, dew point as a comfort indicator (why doesn’t Public Radio note the dew point in its forecasts?), how the Coriolis Effect affects weather—it shapes midlatitude weather, and how changes in barometric pressure cause headaches. The last Monday of the month, 11:45 to 12:30 CT, has become their regularly scheduled gig. Even if you don’t live in Wisconsin, you can listen to Wisconsin’s Weather Guys on the Web. Click on Ideas Network Live Webcast.

On the Net

For More Information MIW

A new Web site, Movements in the World, uses several SSEC Web pages. Marco Mercuri attends the Department of Geography in the University of Roma and is developing the wide-ranging site to cover “politics, geography, sustainable development, and human rights” with Web offerings from around the world. Look at the right-hand list. The site is still under construction and loads slowly but shows great promise.


For More Information Polar projects

NOAA researcher Jeff Key and his colleagues in the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) have begun to estimate the movement of winds in the polar regions by tracking clouds in MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data from NASA’s Terra satellite. After examining orbital properties to determine how often and how far apart the images arrive, the researchers will examine MODIS imagery in several channels (or bands) to assess the general quality of tracking targets. They are also evaluating procedures for automatically identifying and tracking cloud targets.

MODIS Polar Winds
Click on the small MODIS image for more information.
GOES Realtime Page

GOES Realtime Data

The National Weather Service’s Office of Meteorology has asked CIMSS and NOAA researchers to add low-level temperature-sensitive GOES Sounder band 5 data at 13.4 micrometers to the suite of select bands already available on the CIMSS Realtime GOES page. The imaging instrument on GOES-M, scheduled for launch in July of 2001, will have an additional band at 13.3 micrometers. The NWS’s J. Heil proposed the display of GOES sounder band 5 to provide some exposure of this wavelength imagery to his staff before launch. NOAA researcher Gary Wade’s addition to the CIMSS Realtime GOES page now allows the user to visually compare different spectral bands by toggling between the latest imagery from selected bands of the GOES Sounder imagery, composited from both GOES-8 and GOES-10.

NOAA’s Advanced Satellite Products Team at CIMSS recently switched to an Internet server at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to access data from the source of forecast products and data. NOAA’s Geary Callan changed software to enable processing on two local computers instead of one. In the past, NCEP data were retrieved from a public data server, but this has become unreliable. Internet transfer rates have also slowed, in part due to increased usage by university students of the online music server, Napster.


NOAA researcher Robert Aune has developed an objective analysis system to initialize the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) numerical forecast model using gridded products from the National Weather Service’s NOAAPORT broadcast. The analysis can combine multiple grids from different forecast models with varying resolutions and map projections to produce an ensemble analysis that the CRAS can use. Also, observations from in-situ and satellite platforms can also be added. This system eliminates the dependence of the real-time CRAS forecast on the Internet.


CVS Manual

Gail Bayler and Jim Nelson (SSEC) have implemented the Concurrent Versions System (CVS) to track changes in Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) developmental retrieval code. Long used in SSEC’s McIDAS, CVS allows multiple users to change code and coordinate their changes and to take a snapshot of the code as it existed on a specific day. CVS makes it immediately transparent which version of the software is being used. The system is particularly useful when retrieving information from satellite imagery to make useful products, where the software changes rapidly and is used and modified by different government and university agencies. You can download the software from the CVS home page and can access the link to NASA CVS training.

Hal Woolf and Mat Gunshor (SSEC) and Tim Schmit (NOAA) calculated four high-resolution spectra with a line-by-line model to validate the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) spectral response. The ABI is a proposed instrument for the next series of U.S. geostationary weather satellites. The spectra correspond to four respective atmospheric profiles: the standard atmosphere, a cold atmosphere, a hot and dry atmosphere, and a warm and moist atmosphere.


For More Information Isentropic Modeling

Professor Emeritus Donald R. Johnson has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A University Communications news release noted that this is “a distinction accorded to individuals who have distinguished themselves in science and engineering.” Don was “cited for outstanding teaching and research on atmospheric energetics and modeling as well as for extensive public service in meteorology.” While retired from AOS, Don remains active in SSEC, maintaining his own research group who model the global and regional energy balance.

With Don, three other university scientists were named fellows: Francis Bretherton, Max Lagally and Kenneth Potter. Francis is SSEC’s former director and an AOS professor. He was “recognized for a long and distinguished career in research, education and administration, and for the application of satellite data to climate studies.”

The Wisconsin State Journal saluted Thomas Haig for a recent Space Pioneer award from the National Reconnaisance Office. Tom, a past SSEC executive director, was honored for leading the Air Force team that developed the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. The team developed the “satellite, its launch vehicle and command and control stations in less than a year in 1961.”

Direct comments, questions, and information about other SSEC media appearances to SSEC's Public Information Officer. For information about past media appearances, visit the SSEC In the News page.

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