QuikSCAT science at yesterday's hearing

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:22 PM GMT on July 20, 2007

Share this Blog
3
+

Dr. Robert Atlas, director of the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory--the parent organiztion of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division--testified at yesterday's Congressional hearing, on the science of QuikSCAT. In his written testimony, Dr. Atlas presented a good summary of QuikSCAT science:

There are three studies that address the potential degradation to computer hurricane forecasts that might result from the loss of QuikSCAT. Each of these studies has limitations that prevent definitive conclusions, and additional studies are needed. In my opinion, the preponderance of evidence from the three studies indicates that computer model forecasts of landfalling hurricanes, especially in the 2-5-day time range, could be degraded if we do not mitigate the loss effectively. Forecasters at the NHC are able to improve upon the computer forecasts, so that the potential degradation can be diminished. This is especially true as the storms are approaching land in the shorter time ranges. In addition, NOAA has recently developed an effective mitigation plan that would make substantial use of other satellites as well as enhanced aircraft observations.

I was pleased to see Dr. Atlas mentioning many of the uncertainties I've been drawing attention to. In his verbal comments, he offered a theory as to why the study done using the Navy NOGAPS model showed little effect of QuikSCAT on hurricane track forecasts. The NOGAPS model inserts a "bogus" vortex where a tropical cyclone exists, and this bogus vortex is resistant to modification by winds from QuikSCAT. The GFS model, used in the QuikSCAT study Bill Proenza cited, does not do vortex bogusing.

Dr. Atlas was not questioned about the uncertainties of QuikSCAT's impact on hurricane track forecasts, which surprised me. The general consensus among Congress members seemed to be that QuikSCAT was a valuable enough satellite that it deserved to be replaced, regardless of whether Mr. Proenza exaggerated its importance or not. No one talked about the need to cut any hurricane funding to pay for QuikSCAT, and a number of Congressmen thought we should be spending more. Congressman Ehlers (R-Michigan) said, "I think we have given short shrift to NOAA and its satellite program, considering how much is spent on the satellite programs for the Department of Defense, Global Positioning System, and NASA."

QuikSCAT science in the independent panel's report
The independent panel sent by NOAA to investigate management problems at the National Hurricane Center talked extensively about QuikSCAT (Attachment 9 of the written testimony of the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Conrad Lautenbacher). The report said that mistrust of Bill Proenza by the staff was, in part, caused by disagreements about the science of QuikSCAT:

"Statements by the director about the limited lifetime of the QuikSCAT satellite and the resulting impact on forecasts--made without context or caveat--raised public doubt about the center's ability to perform its mission and distracted center staff from doing their jobs."
And: One senior hurricane specialist noted that the director repeatedly quoted him out of context about the potential impact of QuikSCAT's loss even after the director was told that he was in error.

Had I been a senior forecaster at the NHC, I would have raised the same issues, and spoken out against the misrepresentation of the QuikSCAT science that occurred. The director of the NHC must be honest with the uncertainties in the science if he is to be entrusted with the most important job in weather.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 428 - 378

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9Blog Index

428. AllAtSea
1:35 AM GMT on July 27, 2007
I am at a loss to understand the criticism of Proenza on QuickSCAT.
1) QuickSCAT makes hurricane forecasts more accurate.
2) Risking lives sending in more planes because we can not find the money to replace QuickSCAT is immoral! Have you read Master's description of how he almost lost his life on such a flight?
3) All the discussion of public confidence in the NHC sounds like hollow PR positioning to me. Is there really any doubt that the forecasts are better with QuickSCAT? Lets look more at reality and less at public perceptions.
4) Other weather forecasters need QuickSCAT. Proenza knows that from his previous jobs. Pacific tropical storm forecasters need QuickSCAT and can't replace it with more plane flights.
5) Just to inject some politics, we are spending hundreds of billions on a PR job of a war in Iraq, billions in tax breaks for the wealthy, and can't afford to replace a single aging weather satellite? Give me a break!

Full disclosure: I am living on my boat in the Caribbean and the forecasters I use refer to QuickSCAT data daily and would have no alternative data available should it fail.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
427. Patrap
8:36 AM CDT on July 22, 2007
N Atlantic Imagery..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
426. weathersp
1:21 PM EDT on July 21, 2007
Sure Storm... Basically it is a free program that uses Google earth to track the hurricane hunter's flight path then when the HH's send data back through there vortex messages then it gets translated from the program and pop's up in Google earth so you can see where they are and the data they are sending back.. I will post a screenshot when they are in flight today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
425. sonofagunn
4:25 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
marlinsfan1 - we are under the same watch until 9 up here in Tampa. The whole area is. I guess they suspect lots of blowups over the entire state as this front pushes through.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
424. Murko
4:22 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Baha, we just had about 40 mins rain, and one rumble of thunder in North Eleuthera, too. I don't think the blob skirting Grand Bahama will make it this far. Is the general weather moving up from the south for us? If so, probably just some local moisture. The water in front of my house is over 105F.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
423. nolesjeff
4:21 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
new blogLink
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
422. StormJunkie
4:18 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
New Blog up
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
420. BahaHurican
12:06 PM EDT on July 21, 2007
G'day, all!

Currently in Nassau we have rain (started about 20 minutes ago). I'm assuming this is prefrontal. Hopefully this will pass and push whatever is hanging around that ULL off to the east or north . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21595
419. weathersp
12:15 PM EDT on July 21, 2007
I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA.
FLIGHT ONE
A. 22/1800Z
B. AFXXX 01DDA INVEST


YAY! I GET TO USE MY NEW HURRICANE HUNTER FLIGHT AND DATA TRACKER!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
418. marlinsfan1
12:07 PM EDT on July 21, 2007
Man I live south of miami,and it looks like its going to be a very stormy day. We are under a severe thunderstorm watch till 9 p.m.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
417. katadman
4:05 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Good morning, all. Is anyone talking about the weather today?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
416. hcubed
10:59 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
"Posted By: stormkat at 9:11 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.

i would be happy to share them with you growcartmazart....i for one do not use computers i think they are the biggest waste of time during hurricane season especially for GOM STORMS...THE REASON WHY I USE CAPS IS TO GET MY POINT ACROSS..."


And the reason I use the ignore key is to get MY point across (notice the appropriate use of the caps key...)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
415. Patrap
10:59 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Our friend and fellow wu-blogger sandcrab is going to be BarometerBobs guest this week. Check out the broadcast and interview this Thursday night at 8pmEST. Link

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
414. Patrap
10:44 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Its all good..SK and I respect our weird ways ,,to a point.We all in this game together. Its best we give and take.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
412. IKE
10:41 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: KYhomeboy at 10:31 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
I know the NAM hasn't quite hit anything on the spot so far this season...lol (understatement). But if you look at the area that just came of of south america...there is heavy convection firing up...and it looks like some sort of circulation near that. Looks like thats what the NAM might be picking up. But again...the models haven't been doing so hot!


I agree about the NAM.

I see an area north of Puerto Rico + one coming off of South America...on water vapor loop...

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
411. hurricane23
11:39 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
000
NOUS42 KNHC 211400
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1000 AM EDT SAT 21 JULY 2007
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 22/1100Z TO 23/1100Z JULY 2007
TCPOD NUMBER.....07-059 (CORRECTED TAKE OFF TIME)

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA.
FLIGHT ONE

A. 22/1800Z
B. AFXXX 01DDA INVEST
C. 22/1300Z
D. 32.0N 64.0W
E. 18Z 21Z
F. 1500 FT

FLIGHT TWO
A. 23/0600Z
B. AFXXX 0203A CYCLONE
C. 23/0100Z
D. 35.0N 64.5W
F. 05Z 09Z
G. SFC 10,000 FT

2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY: NEGATIVE.

II.PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK.....NEGATIVE.
SMR


An invest will likely be tagged on this area later this afternoon but as i stated a track out to sea looks like a good bet with the approaching cold front.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
410. RM706
3:25 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Wow. I've been lurking for a year now and I have to wonder if Pat and SK are best friends IRL.

I grew up in Texas chasing tornados out in fields in the middle of nowhere with my friends. Seems to me that anyone who is passionate about weather feels they have some Native American in them wanting to share thier unique gift with the world...hehe

But seriously, I have enjoyed Pat and SK and I can respect them both along with many others here. I hae wanted to share my forecasts, Satelite opinions and whatknot (pun) but I feel too much of a newb when it cames to this fancy technology.

I still chase tornados here in NE Florida and have on occasion taken a coworker out to show them a tornado as it forms and touches down. Yes I have been lucky it that regard.

FYI, I am a horrible speller and proof reader so please bare with me. And if I get flamed, I will not likely post often. I suffer from similar things as SK demonstrates...LOL (sorry SK)

I try really hard to not over use CAPS but like SK, it gets away form me. I hope NOT to offend ANYONE (lol).

Looking forward to getting to know you guys and hopefully you will be interested in getting to know me.

As far as I can tell I am the boards only Bubblehead (submariner;fast attack) so I will sign as...

-Bubblehead
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
409. Patrap
10:36 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
It aint what the naysayers write,for most of them have never been . The Sheraton is a FAv of ours.We stayed in Nov 05 up on the club level for a weekend just to get outta the trailer for a weekend.Loved it.A tourist in ones own city. Really nice to here from a wu-member whos seen. Thanks again..and GO Saints!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
408. weathers4me
3:28 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Patrap. The people were all very nice and the Sheraton was beautiful. Lost my shirt at Harra's casino, and had some Bubba Gump shrimp. What a good "adult" weekend without the kids. For all those who give NO a bad rap. Shame on you..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
407. KYhomeboy
3:25 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I know the NAM hasn't quite hit anything on the spot so far this season...lol (understatement). But if you look at the area that just came of of south america...there is heavy convection firing up...and it looks like some sort of circulation near that. Looks like thats what the NAM might be picking up. But again...the models haven't been doing so hot!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
406. Patrap
10:30 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
The Waterspout Thursday for those who missed it here,...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
405. CJ5
3:22 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
The wave at 18/13 has some good rotation, is north of the ITCZ, moving into an area of limited shear and moist air. Of course, right now that could be said about all of these waves of late, inlcuding 96L. The super dry air that seemed to clear out (somewhat) last week in the CATL has returned.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
404. Patrap
10:26 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Glad you enjoyed your stay weathers4me.We much appreciate your coming and enjoying.Today is Magnificent here.
Yes..July has its aft boomers..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
402. Patrap
10:22 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
The front has really pushed thru the Northern GOM..and the N winds are just delicious.Humidity way down.Another East coast trof..that may spin up off the Carolinas.a much awaited invest.Maybe by tomorrow.

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
401. hurricane23
11:18 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
With the approaching cold front i suspect anything the forms in the area will likely remain out to sea.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
400. weathers4me
3:22 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Patrap: Just got back from NO Monday. Fun city despite the rain. Will definately go back.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
399. ryang
11:20 AM AST on July 21, 2007
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT SAT JUL 21 2007

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A LARGE AREA OF DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS...EXTENDING FROM
HISPANIOLA NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE ATLANTIC FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED
MILES...IS ASSOCIATED WITH AN UPPER-LEVEL LOW INTERACTING WITH A
TROPICAL WAVE. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE GRADUALLY BECOMING MORE
FAVORABLE...AND SOME DEVELOPMENT IS POSSIBLE IN THIS AREA OVER THE
NEXT DAY OR TWO.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER RHOME
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
398. GainesvilleGator
3:09 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I see StormKat catching some more flack this morning. I don't have a problem with SK but he does need to work on his communication skills. It is important to NOT use all caps when sending a message. All caps should only be used to emphasize key words.

I think SK can be quite popular on WU & well liked if he worked on being nice. It is hard work going out of your way to be courteous. Being kind to others on here will result in priceless dividends.

SK, remember no ALL CAPS & be nice :-)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
397. IKE
10:16 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: CJ5 at 10:15 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
It appears there is not much action going on (good).


According to the latest from NHC, the going may get going soon.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
396. CJ5
3:06 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
It appears there is not much action going on (good). We shall all be watching the waves off Africa for the next possible problem. I think everyone agrees that the conditions favor an active season. We shall see. I also think everyone can agree from a pure science standpoint the more active the better and from a personal standpoint the less active the better.

I will promise not to post anything political and I hope everyone else does the same.

Stormkat...keep saving lives, go you! lol.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
395. IKE
10:13 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: Smyrick145 at 10:01 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
Stormkat

Would you be so kind in sharing why you believe all hell will break lose in the coming weeks? I am very interested in your reasoning behind this.


That's a problem with SK...he just comes and goes.

The tropics are fixin to get going in the Atlantic....the odds of something NOT forming are decreasing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
394. IKE
10:12 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
What area 23? That's a rather broad area covered by the TWO.

If anyone believes this...here's the latest NAM run....

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
393. Rainman32
11:10 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
Some brimstone baritone anticyclone rolling stone preacher from the east.. That's great Growcart
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
392. hurricane23
11:09 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT SAT JUL 21 2007

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A LARGE AREA OF DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS...EXTENDING FROM
HISPANIOLA NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE ATLANTIC FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED
MILES...IS ASSOCIATED WITH AN UPPER-LEVEL LOW INTERACTING WITH A
TROPICAL WAVE. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE GRADUALLY BECOMING MORE
FAVORABLE...AND SOME DEVELOPMENT IS POSSIBLE IN THIS AREA OVER THE
NEXT DAY OR TWO.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER RHOME


Could get interesting...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
390. groundman
3:03 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Have a GREAT vacation K-man.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
389. groundman
2:51 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: amazinwxman at 2:22 PM GMT on July 21, 2007.
Hey Hey guys leave the drunk mongoose out of this ok! he's pretty reliable with his tropics forecast matter of fact he's Instant Messaging me right now saying yes he agrees with StormKat.


I hope whoever those people are that someone suggested watched this board for current information and took EVERYTHING seriously and perhaps even reported?? it is taking notes in detail.

I can see it in their "report",......... one of the posters reports seeing drunk cat like mammal while the other is getting IM's from said mammal. We believe stormkat may be a plant from the either the kgb or the twc and his posts are infected with hallucinogenic phrases, said phrases may inflict damage on the nasaal passages as one poster has reported a lingering odor.
LOL
sorrrrrrrrrrrrrry

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
388. Smyrick145
2:51 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Stormkat

Would you be so kind in sharing why you believe all hell will break lose in the coming weeks? I am very interested in your reasoning behind this.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
386. Chicklit
2:44 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Have a good one KMan...I will miss your observations.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
385. eye
2:39 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
i tell yah, that wave off africa has to be the slowest I have seen in a while...it must be just drifting....and if it stays right off Africa too much longer it will go "poof" b/c the SST's are cooler than normal
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
384. Patrap
9:40 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Im out to go do groceries..NAwlins style..Later guys and gals.Have a good morning.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
383. kmanislander
2:38 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Thanks Sporteguy

I am planning to buy a new laptop in NY so if the tropics heat up I may get in a post or two before I return. If not C U when I get back.

Have a good day and weekend all
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
382. nawlinsdude
2:39 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
yeah good joob pat. I had my hands full just taking care of myself and a few neighbors. Congrats
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
381. sporteguy03
2:37 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Great Work Pat! Have a Good trip Kman.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
380. kmanislander
2:35 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Hey Pat, I always knew you were a good guy but you just went up several notches in my estimation. Well done
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
379. nash28
2:35 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Very nice Pat! Very nice,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 428 - 378

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
75 °F
Mostly Cloudy