A Survey of NASA's Tropical Atmospheric Research Field Campaigns

TitleA Survey of NASA's Tropical Atmospheric Research Field Campaigns
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGoodman, M, Blakeslee, R, Graves, S, Hardin, D, He, M, Conover, H
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union
Date Published12/2009
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA
AbstractField research campaigns are essential for observing and measuring actual Earth system phenomena and validation of computer models that simulate Earth systems. Ultimately, field data help improve the nation's ability to predict climate change and its impacts. Since 1998 NASA has conducted a number of field campaigns directed toward understanding the life cycle and processes of tropical storm systems. Sponsored through NASA’s Research and Analysis (R&A) programs the field campaigns employed an integrated mix of instrument scientists, aircraft crew and managers, atmospheric modelers, atmospheric and oceanographic scientists, and data & information technologists. Each field campaign employed multiple instruments situated on space borne platforms, aircraft and on the Earth’s surface. Typically these include the NASA ER2 research aircraft, a DC-8 airliner refitted with scientific instrumentation, NASA’s Earth observation satellites such as Aqua, Terra and TRMM, and Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles such as the ALTUS II and Global Hawk. This survey begins with a description of the third convection and moisture experiment (CAMEX-3). In 1998 CAMEX-3 successfully studied Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, Earl and Georges producing high spatial and temporal information of hurricane structure, dynamics, and motion. These data, when analyzed within the context of more traditional aircraft, satellite, and ground-based radar observations, provided additional insight to hurricane modelers and forecasters who continually strive to improve hurricane predictions. The next field campaign in 2001 was known as CAMEX-4. CAMEX-4 focused on the study of tropical cyclone development, tracking, intensification, and land falling impacts. NASA research aircraft flew over, through, and around hurricanes as they approached landfall in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and along the east coast of the United States. The Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes (TCSP) mission in 2005 focused on the study of the dynamics and thermodynamics of precipitating cloud systems and tropical cyclones. The TCSP experiment flew 12 science flights, including missions to Hurricanes Dennis and Emily, Tropical Storm Gert and an eastern Pacific mesoscale complex that may possibly have further developed into Tropical Storm Eugene. In August 2006 the NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (NAMMA) campaign, based in the Cape Verde Islands, employed surface observation networks and aircraft to characterize the evolution and structure of African Easterly Waves (AEWs) and Mesoscale Convective Systems over continental western Africa. In 2010 NASA will continue these studies with the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes experiment. This field campaign will study how tropical storms form and develop into major hurricanes. NASA plans to use the DC-8 aircraft and the Global Hawk Unmanned Airborne System (UAS) and is soliciting proposals for instruments that can achieve the measurement requirements. Data from these campaigns is available from the Global Hydrology Resource Center (GHRC) in Huntsville Alabama, one of NASA’s Earth science data centers, managed by the Information Technology and Systems Center of UAHuntsville.