Science

For the first time, an ocean drone captures images of the interior of a hurricane

In a new data collection operation, NOAA and Saildrone Inc. have worked hand in hand to study the physical processes of hurricanes. To do this, they piloted five Saildrone 1045s in the Atlantic Ocean to collect data in real time.

In a world first, American scientists flew one of five SD 1045 ocean drones, equipped with a camera and resembling robotic windsurfers, Thursday in a Category 4 hurricane crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The spectacular images captured, published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), show the small boat battling waves of 15 meters high and winds of more than 120 km / h within Hurricane Sam. With a wing specially designed to operate in extreme wind conditions, the SD 1045 challenges the hurricane by collecting observations and measurements in real time for numerical hurricane prediction models, which should provide insight into how large hurricanes develop and intensify. destructive tropical cyclones.

Better understand hurricanes to better alert

The autonomous vehicle, dubbed “Saildrone”, was developed by the company of the same name. Powered by the wind and seven meters long, it carries a specially designed “hurricane wing” to withstand harsh conditions while collecting data.

The Saildrone website says that you can record measurements like wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, temperature, salinity, humidity, and more. “We hope to improve the forecasting models that predict the rapid intensification of hurricanes,” said NOAA scientist Greg Foltz in a statement.

Video aboard the Saildrone 1045 in Hurricane Sam, Thursday, September 30, 2021:

“Rapid intensification, when hurricane force winds build up within hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities, and data collected from unmanned systems will help improve models,” he added. Scientists warn that climate change is warming the ocean and making hurricanes more powerful, posing an increasing risk to coastal communities.

“The new data from saildrons and other unmanned systems that NOAA uses will help us better predict the forces that interact within hurricanes so that we can warn communities earlier,” Foltz adds.

In this second video, an animation showing the location of the hurricane has been parallel to the images of the drone:

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