Recent studies have revealed that scientist have created drones, to be purposefully destroyed to gather storm data.
While a lot of research has been gathered for years, scientists have only managed to guess the pure strength of a hurricane before it lands, but never what exactly the root cause of them is.
Robbie Hood, the director of NOAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program reported that while Satellite measurements give meteorologists a good picture, although hazy, of the precipitation and atmospheric temperature from within a hurricane, the picture can something be “too coarse”. This stops researchers from being able to determine how the hurricane is created, formed, and it’s progression whilst fully formed.
This truly shows in the vital area just above the water, which is why the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) has put plans in place to fly inexpensive drones into the most active part of the storm and allow them to be destroyed. This is planned to help predict how a hurricane will progress throughout its destruction and allow understanding on how to possibly prevent any more. An overview of the program was presented on Saturday by Hood, as the annual AAAS conference in Washington D.C.
The Dropwindsonde ( A sensor attached to a parachute) that is used to estimate wind speeds, has been used in the past. These are used right above the water (Tropical Cyclone Boundary Layer), and fall quickly right into the water allowing scientists a look into information about the vertical conditions on the way down of the storm. However, scientists only have a small glimpse into the conditions on the surface, which are completely essential to their research and their predictions that save countless lives each year.
Hood reported “The hope for the UAS drones flying at low altitudes is that they can provide more detailed information than a satellite of the lowest layer of the atmosphere above the ocean while covering a broader horizontal range than a dropsonde”
Since the realisation that a new drone needed to be created the NOAA has been starting to use two different models. Those are “The Raytheon Coyote and the Piasecki Whimbrel”. Both are launched from a manned aircraft, and once released they will eject wings that allow them to fly in the highest of intensity winds.
Both aircrafts have different features, for example, The Coyote allows flight for up to one hour. All data collected is then transmitted using radio communication to the aircraft that launched them that allows them to read from inside the hurricane itself.
Over the past five years, the NOAA has created an ever growing fleet of weather detecting units, and these two drones will add to the army. Of course, NOAA has created designs for a longer lasting drone, however they are focusing their time and effort into the short lasting drone first. This is to see if any significant results can be pulled from the expendable drone, which are enough to invest into more technology.
Of course they have taken into consideration the disposal of such a drone, and are involved in taking an environmental assessment to make sure that they drone do not add to the rising level of ocean trash once they have completed their mission.
However in our eyes. Anything that can save thousands of lives by helping scientists to predicts hurricanes is fine by us!