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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278. KoritheMan
4:03 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
I don't like the SAL or ULL's.... How am I supposed to watch development? I like to study tropical cyclones and other weather like snowstorms, severe weather, etc. The harm I don't want, but I do like to study them......

I'm already in a bad mood tonight, but I won't take it out on anyone here. It's just I don't think the SAL will taper off at all until at least August 15.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
277. Fshhead
8:57 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Kori, tell you what, I am not sure how long the buzzsaw is going to stay in place but, if it hangs around & any system gets near it, I think I heard John Gerard on NBC news say steered or sheared lol. By the way being in Miami, I LOVE these ULL'S & the SAL(I call it majic fairy dust lol)
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276. KoritheMan
3:51 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
SAL is high in the area, Fshhead. As always... What else is new...

I know that this is not going to be a slow season (or so I don't think and it hasn't been slow thus far either; it's been slightly above average), but SAL is getting ridiculous lately.

It may develop though. I don't want a storm to hit land as anything more than a tropical storm (I don't even want that, but a TS would be the most I would not mind hitting somewhere), but I want something to track. If it recurves okay, but it least it's something to track. SAL is annoying the crap out of me.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
275. Fshhead
8:47 AM GMT on July 21, 2007


I wonder if this is the one?? Already had rotation as it came off the coast....We will see how it holds up the next day or 2.
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274. TayTay
7:41 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Looks like the LLC is breaking away from the convection. Cosme is close to death.
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273. KoritheMan
2:20 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
hold on there texascanecaster1, some of us get real excited by the lack of storms

I don't...
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
272. KoritheMan
2:18 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
I know, and I thought it would become a tropical storm again just two days ago.
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271. RL3AO
1:46 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Cosme is dead dead dead. Can't even see the swirl real well.
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270. moonlightcowboy
4:15 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
MLCgoodnight4.gif

MLC <--------------out for some shut-eye! Nite, everyone!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
269. 0741
4:11 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
but ull still their
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268. moonlightcowboy
4:00 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Look at this Link and see if this is convection trying to form around the leftover low coc?
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
267. cajngranny
3:33 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Virginislands - i would have to agree with you LOL
266. virginislands
3:22 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
hold on there texascanecaster1, some of us get real excited by the lack of storms
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265. texascanecaster1
2:47 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
well it looks like everyone went to bed. goodnight all.
264. texascanecaster1
2:28 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
hey melbourne and for other you guys know how when you go to type a comment there is a thing about that says weather chat? that is a live chat room like stormchat and anyone who is a member here can talk there. please feel free to drop by it anytime it is faster to talk there than here.
263. MelbourneTom
2:14 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
I am still learning and thanks to all. I am an EE by training and I do have a strong desire to learn more of the met world. Yes, blog is slow which is the only reason I am willing to say this now. It will be active too soon. Thanks again for all of your knowledge.
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262. texascanecaster1
2:06 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
ultimatum:

ABNT20 KNHC 210204
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1030 PM EDT FRI JUL 20 2007

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

DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS EXTENDING FROM THE CENTRAL
CARIBBEAN SEA NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE ATLANTIC FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED
MILES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH AN UPPER-LOW INTERACTING WITH A TROPICAL
WAVE. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE NOT CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT AT THIS
TIME.

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

$$
FORECASTER AVILA

261. texascanecaster1
1:57 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
if anybody is there still you guys are welcome to visit the cape weather live chat room if you wnat to know how to get there just let me know.
260. texascanecaster1
1:49 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
sigh so bored..... so sad.
259. texascanecaster1
1:46 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
blob is twitchin. http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/loop-rb.html
258. texascanecaster1
1:45 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
sj i would like you to email me if psbl.
257. texascanecaster1
1:45 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
also taz which blog your wunderblog or a different one? blob is twitching:http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/loop-rb.html
256. MelbourneTom
1:42 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
The train looks to be starting over Africa:

Link
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255. Bobbyweather
9:41 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
hello. when do you think 97l would form, dr m
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254. sporteguy03
1:33 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Thanks Dr.M for the update onto the tropics!
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253. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:33 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
iam coming too taz
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
252. texascanecaster1
1:33 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
jeez guys it seems like we really need a storm. Without we are going crazy!
251. texascanecaster1
1:32 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
taz i will go to your blog now.
250. Tazmanian
6:30 PM PDT on July 20, 2007
evere one oh is her come to my blog and will have a party
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
249. texascanecaster1
1:29 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
sorry i wasn't screaming at anyone earlier.
248. Tazmanian
6:22 PM PDT on July 20, 2007
ok : KoritheMan
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
247. KoritheMan
8:18 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Taz, I'm coming too.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
246. KoritheMan
8:15 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
STL, I don't care about the "supposedly according to some people (not you or wbk, you guys are knowledgable; I look up to you) 2007 is slow" thing, it's just the SAL bothers me. I've never seen this much dust before. I didn't observe it until 2006 though, so what do I know.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
245. Tazmanian
6:10 PM PDT on July 20, 2007
STL and : weatherboykris come to my blog
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
244. MichaelSTL
8:11 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Anybody remember these years, especially the last one (also, 2001 didn't have any hurricanes at all and only four storms before September)?

2000 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed: June 7, 2000 (tropical depression)
Last storm dissipated: October 29, 2000
Strongest storm: Keith - 939 mbar (hPa) (27.74 inHg), 140 mph (220 km/h)
Total storms: 15
Hurricanes: 7
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 3
Total fatalities: 50 (7 indirect)
Total damage: $1.2 billion (2000 USD)
$1.41 billion (2006 USD)

Hurricane Alberto (2000)
Alberto formed on August 3 while just south of Cape Verde. It made the transition from tropical storm to hurricane strength three times. After forming, Alberto headed west-northwest, then headed back to the east and performed a large loop, peaking at 130 mph on the 12th. On the 23rd, Alberto was classified as extratropical. The extratropical Alberto headed north-northeast and passed over northwestern Iceland before dissipating near Jan Mayen on August 25.


2001 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed: June 4, 2001
Last storm dissipated: December 6, 2001
Strongest storm: Michelle - 933 mbar (hPa) (27.56 inHg),
Total storms: 15
Hurricanes: 9
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 4
Total fatalities: 105
Total damage: $7.1 billion (2001 USD)
$8.1 billion (2006 USD)

Tropical Storm Barry (2001)
Barry formed from a tropical wave in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 2. Moving westward, it weakened to a tropical depression, and was expected to continue to the west-northwest. Instead, the ridge to Barry's north degraded, allowing the system to turn northward and restrengthen to tropical storm strength on the 5th. It peaked that night at 70 mph, but some southwesterly shear prevented the storm from reaching hurricane strength. Barry made landfall near Santa Rosa Beach, Florida on August 6 as a strong tropical storm with a developing eyewall, leading to the possibility of Barry being a hurricane. After making landfall, the remnants of Barry continued inland, and dissipated over Missouri on the 8th.


2004 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed: July 31, 2004
Last storm dissipated: December 2, 2004
Strongest storm: Ivan - 910 mbar (hPa) (26.88 inHg), 165 mph (270 km/h)
Total storms: 15
Hurricanes: 8
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 6
Total fatalities: 3,132+
Total damage: $42 billion (2004 USD)
$44.9 billion (2006 USD)

Hurricane Alex (2004)
The first storm of the season formed at the end of July off the coast of South Carolina. Alex strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane, and on August 3 came within 10 miles (16 km) of the Outer Banks of North Carolina without making landfall. Damage was limited to flooding and wind damage, and in Dare County, North Carolina, was estimated at $2.4 million. There were several injuries and one death reported.[10]

Alex later headed out to sea and strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane, making it only the second hurricane on record to have reached Category 3 strength north of 38 N latitude, before becoming extratropical over the north Atlantic.
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243. KoritheMan
8:12 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Koritheman,SAL is forecast to die out in the next two weeks,and even if it didn't,that doesn't mean this year will be a bust at all.2004 had above average SAL.

Well, if you don't mind me asking, if you know what will make it die out, please tell me. I don't doubt it will (I'm no forecaster, Dr. Masters is, and he said that it would die too). I wanna know what would make it die out.

As for this...

It's gonna take a decade or more before people get over that year's early season activity,IMO.

Not for me. I don't care if Andrea and Barry are the only ones that formed thus far. 1999 was very slow (this year isn't slow btw, as you know), but look what happened after August 18. I know early season activity means nothing on the season as a whole. Look at 1968 and 1952.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
242. weatherboykris
1:10 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Koritheman,SAL is forecast to die out in the next two weeks,and even if it didn't,that doesn't mean this year will be a bust at all.2004 had above average SAL.
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241. weatherboykris
1:09 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
It's gonna take a decade or more before people get over that year's early season activity,IMO.
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240. KoritheMan
8:08 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Umm,excuse me.We have the most active 5 year period on record in 2002-2006 and you're wondering if jurricane season can ever exist again?Just because it's July 20 and we've only had 2 named storms?

July 20 has nothing to do with that, kris. It's the fact that everytime SAL dies off, more takes it place. It happened two days ago; SAL was dying considerably, and another storm blew the dust out into the Atlantic.

How can you even get development with SAL returning EVERY FIVE days?
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
239. weatherboykris
1:08 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 1:07 AM GMT on July 21, 2007.

Jesus... what is the world did the 2005 season do??????


I know,LMBO!
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238. moonlightcowboy
1:07 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
dunno, bama; but two winds from two different directions? could be trouble?
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
237. charley04survivor
1:06 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Will it spawn tornadoes maybe??????
236. weatherboykris
1:06 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
I am beginning to wonder if hurricane season will even exist anymore, since SAL increases more every year it seems like. Atlantic Ocean will be a desert directly... I don't think SAL will EVER die off.

Umm,excuse me.We have the most active 5 year period on record in 2002-2006 and you're wondering if jurricane season can ever exist again?Just because it's July 20 and we've only had 2 named storms?
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235. Bamatracker
1:06 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
what happens when they meet?....does the world end LOL!!
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234. KoritheMan
8:06 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
I think global warming has killed hurricanes in the Atlantic for good.

How so? I was only joking, but I'm serious in a way.... SAL NEVER NEVER EVER dies off the past few years... I mean man, it's like someone cast a curse.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
233. MichaelSTL
8:06 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Jesus... what is the world did the 2005 season do??????
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232. charley04survivor
1:05 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
I think global warming has killed hurricanes in the Atlantic for good.
231. moonlightcowboy
1:05 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Bama, been watching that. Just called my daughter and advised her to be off the road and in the house...lol.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
230. Bamatracker
1:03 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
hey everyone...check out the two lines of storms converging in mississippi. Pretty cool!!!
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229. KoritheMan
8:03 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
thanks... no comment.... aparently you guys hate me, so i'll leave now so you can start talking. bye.

What are you talking about? O_o
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028
228. KoritheMan
8:01 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: hurricane23 at 7:49 PM CDT on July 20, 2007.

For now the atmosphere just is not prime yet for a formidable tropical system to take shape.


Very true, Adrian.

I am beginning to wonder if hurricane season will even exist anymore, since SAL increases more every year it seems like. Atlantic Ocean will be a desert directly... I don't think SAL will EVER die off.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21028

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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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