QuikSCAT science at yesterday's hearing

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

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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

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377. kmanislander
2:33 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Well gotta finish packing for my trip. Take it easy until I get back next week Sunday guys LOL

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376. sporteguy03
2:32 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: stormkat at 2:03 PM GMT on July 21, 2007.

im predicting 4 major hurricanes and 2 will hit the the GOM THIS YEAR....GUYS THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION DEVELOPING OFF THE COAST OF AFRICA....IT WIL BREAK LOSE IN 2 WEEKS THE SST ARE HEATING UP AND SSP ARE FALLING...I DONT LIKE THIS AT ALL...ALL YOU PEOPLE IN THE NEXT 2 TO 3 WEEKS SHOULD REMAIN VIGILANT ALONG THE GOM...THIS IS SERIOUS GUYS IM NOT PLAYING THE INFO I JUST LOOKED AT IS NOT GOOD DOWN THE ROAD....StormKat


Care to share this info Stormkat with the blog or Dr.Masters? Why only the GOM? What about the Bahamas, Bermuda East Coast, Florida?
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375. nash28
2:33 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
SK- Pat doesn't come here and give bad information. Now that I think about it, none of us come on here and give bad information.

We give forecasts to the best of our abilities.
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374. kmanislander
2:32 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Here is something to watch over the next few days. Maybe it will distract everyone from the bickering LOL

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373. nash28
2:31 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
And regarding "getting it 5 days before NHC"....

Anyone can throw darts at the dartboard.

Eventually, one hits the bullseye.
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370. PBG00
2:30 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
LOL you guys are funny.
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368. eye
2:29 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
you all need to read your Harry Potter book....nothing happening in the tropics...lol
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367. Patrap
9:28 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
LOL.SK
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366. PBG00
2:24 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Kman..You are right..also some thin skins around here..everything is sooo personal..kind of like enough already....

anyway..Pat I, like I should be, am prepared for whatever comes my way..but i don't get the climatology stuff..so I look for any of those precursers that would hint of the season one way or the other.
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365. nawlinsdude
2:25 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Oh you saved lives on the wunderground blog? Wow thats impressive.
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362. CaicosRetiredSailor
10:08 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
islandaerie

I have sent you email re: Wx resources
CRS
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361. Patrap
9:21 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Kinda like politics in a weather blog.Its easy to step in it ..like weve seen around here for the last 2 weeks.But the odor from politics and weather being mixed..will linger here well into the season.And its not the posters who brought it here.It was the admins choice.So..here we are.
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360. kmanislander
2:17 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I think that a large part of the bickering on this blog is the result of too many people trying to be "right" and too many others trying to prove they were "wrong".

Weather predicting is inexact even for the very best of the experts and for arm chair forecasters ( as most of us on here are, including myself as I have no met training at all )to squabble over whose predictions are or are not likely to be right or wrong is, frankly, laughable.

This should be a place where weather enthusiasts come to exchange ideas, enjoy each others company and watch the season unfold. Unfortunately, there is too much else going on most of the time for that.

Just my 2 cents FWIW.
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359. amazinwxman
2:21 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.
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357. PBG00
2:19 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
We could see 2 or 3 of those long track Cape Verde systems entering the Caribbean in the SE of the basin much like 2004. This, IMO, is the biggest threat this year, particularly if any of them track over the very high heat potential in the NW Caribbean

Thts what concerns me..2004 sucked..and was very expensive.
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356. Patrap
9:19 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Right?..Stormkat has never been right about anything..hes just Loud..LOL.
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355. PBG00
2:12 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Not everyone on here knows climatology duh..
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354. groundman
2:12 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
A drunk mongoose in Baghdad could say the season will ramp it in 2 weeks.

The sad thing is I can see the little creature siting in the desert street, saying "AHHHHH forget Rikki Tikki Tavi and all that, (burp, the ocean waters will boil with the wrath of the giant cobra in two weeks. Pass the Boones Farm or mad dog or whatever mongoose's drink currently." Hiccup. He has a little green hat and a scarf on like an organ grinders monkey.

Whoever said we are going nuts without a storm is correct. I'm going to go back to my old hobbies to preserve what sanity is left.
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352. kmanislander
2:10 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: PBG00 at 2:09 PM GMT on July 21, 2007.

So with the GOM being a likel;y target..does that let s. fla as far a direct hit goes,off the hook(assuming no wilma type situation happens)


IMO anywhere from the Leeward Islands, to the SE Coast of the US, the GOM and the NW Caribbean will likely be in the cross hairs this year IF the big high out in the ATL sets up as predicted and as indicated for this year.

We could see 2 or 3 of those long track Cape Verde systems entering the Caribbean in the SE of the basin much like 2004. This, IMO, is the biggest threat this year, particularly if any of them track over the very high heat potential in the NW Caribbean
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351. Patrap
9:13 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Marines always engage.

Kids follow kids ..LOL
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350. Patrap
9:09 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
A target from what..a imagined storm?.There are no threats,no areas of interest.
A drunk mongoose in Baghdad could say the season will ramp up in 2 weeks.
Its climatology ,duh.
Not a magical puff of SK smoke.
Get a grip.
All the tools are here to keep up on the season.Period
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349. eaglesrock
10:09 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
Yeah I like Stormkat. His forecasts are surprisingly right a lot of the time and if a hurricane forms on August 3rd, I'll trust him.
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348. PBG00
2:10 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
He likes gettin a rise out of all of you..He knows the caps pi** you all off. Ignore him if ya don't like it.Why engage?
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346. kmanislander
2:09 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Ah, Stormkat, the Oracle from on high. What would we do without you ? LOL
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345. Patrap
9:09 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Lucky if he knows his RIGHT from his left.Or Port to starboard that is..
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344. PBG00
2:07 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
So with the GOM being a likel;y target..does that let s. fla as far a direct hit goes,off the hook(assuming no wilma type situation happens)
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343. Patrap
9:08 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Hes an idiot of the Highest order,,..I take my info from me own brain.It dont swell as much..
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342. nash28
2:05 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Guys, there is only ONE factor we can basically count on...

That is the steering currents are NOT like 2006. Get that out of your minds. The threat of a storm striking the U.S. this season is very real and very probable.

Having said that, when, where and how many is impossible to predict.
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341. PBG00
2:04 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Just ignore the tone...funny thing is he has a tendancy to be right..Take his info as you will.
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340. Patrap
9:05 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: Murko at 9:01 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
I have a couple of questions for you StormKat: Do you know where your capslock key is? Why do you feel the need to type in upper case?


Because hes insecure and rude.And hes no forecaster.Thats for sure.A forecaster and person of Met knowledge has etiquette and poise in posting.
Not the brute force shove it down yer throat tactic.
Thats for simple minds.
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339. kmanislander
2:00 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
good morning all

Well, today I am off to the Big Apple for 8 days of shows, good food and wine and just some old fashioned R&R. This is the time to take vacation because I expect that within the next week to 10 days we will likely see another system fire up. The wave that just came off near 12N 21W looks to have a circulation going and I would not be surprised if something came of this one by the time it reaches 45W ( assuming it doesn't curve to the N before then of course ! )
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338. islandaerie
2:00 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Chicklit, don't like to use either of those terms, but if water enters, it is supposed to wash over, so to speak...i.e. self bailing. The crew is using a trailer lashed down to the bed/deck for off watch etc. I trust them all, professionals at what they do...but will be happy when day 7, plus/minus rolls around. I am a wx watcher--just what I do.
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336. groundman
1:59 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: Growcartmozart at 1:59 PM GMT on July 21, 2007.
Why is everyone here so down on Stormkat. From my perspective, he has been a top notch forecaster. It seems like the more accurate he is, the more grief you give him. Could it be jealousy of his abilities?


He is right perhaps percentagewise. His tone turns most off except for the most masochistic among us. I know I'm not a forecaster. I just can't envision any sane reason for using that tone except in a political debate and then it just makes you look stupid then also.

Sorry Stormkat but people would listen much better if your tone was about 99% less condescending. You have talent, it's a shame to waste it.

Back to lurking.
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334. nash28
2:01 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I think everyone that needs to be prepared is by now. At least most are. I know that the EOC here in Hillsborough and Pinellas is very prepared.
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333. Chicklit
2:00 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Islandaerie, a couple of blogs you can check out are StormW and StormJunkie...I'm sure there are others, but those come to mind. If you e-mail them directly, I'll bet you'll get an answer, too. (Their posts are probably further behind in the blog or will be upcoming.) Hope this helps.
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332. Patrap
9:02 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
NRL Global Imagery Link
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331. Murko
1:55 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I have a couple of questions for you StormKat: Do you know where your capslock key is? Why do you feel the need to type in upper case?
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329. WPBHurricane05
9:56 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
ST has spoken.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
328. GainesvilleGator
1:48 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Hey stormkat, is it just me or have these waves off of Africa been kinda big. We always see lots of waves come off Africa in May-Jul but they pretty much fizzle out after a couple of days because of cold water, dry air, or wind shear. Unless I didn't pay much attention to them in the past they seem kinda big to me this year.

If some of these big waves develop we may see one of those Floyd/Hugo size storms ramp up. Nevermind Andrew, beware of those big boys.
Member Since: September 11, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 744

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

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