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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77. IKE
4:34 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Found this from the Key West, FL. extended discussion...

"A tropical wave...currently located along 69w south of
18n...should be moving south of Cuba Sunday. As a result...low level
winds may shift to southeast or south Sunday...advecting deep...
tropical moisture northward across the Florida Straits. Rain chances
Sunday will be above normal for this time of year."......
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
75. IKE
4:27 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
NOAA FORECASTERS WARN OF BUILDING HEAT IN CENTRAL U.S., THEN EAST — NOAA urges people in the Northern Plains and Midwest to prepare now for a heat wave expected to plague the region during the last 10 days of the month and possibly into August. “There is excellent agreement among forecast models on the development of a new heat wave, and this could surpass in duration, severity and impacts the heat waves we have already seen so far this summer,” said Douglas LeComte, meteorologist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The heat’s location and intensity make it a dangerous threat to people, crops and livestock.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
74. WPBHurricane05
5:23 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Ok, so I'm a little fixated on a little spin down by the Yucatan with very little convection. Why? Heat and little shear. If that little spin finds some convection, something may happen. Pressure down again to 29.91 in last hour (and this is more than 100 miles from the center of the low). Here are the latest Yucatan Buoy obs:

Its an ULL. No tropical development there.
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71. WPBHurricane05
5:22 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
moonlight who pulled your posts. Guys whoever did that please speak up.

Bloggers can't delete other bloggers post. Only on there own blog. It was one of the admin.
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70. Gatorxgrrrl
9:21 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
G.Gator - yep!
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69. HurricaneGeek
5:21 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Tropicfreak, so you said you think this will be a TD in 24 hrs??
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68. IKE
4:20 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: GainesvilleGator at 4:19 PM CDT on July 20, 2007.
Lets hope the WU bloggers get the Bill Proenza fiasco out of their system after today & tomorrow & focus on the 2007 Hurricane Season come Sunday. Hopefully this baggage will be behind us when when we start a new week.


Yo bud...

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
65. HurricaneGeek
5:21 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Yes shear around 20knots
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64. tropicfreak
5:19 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Right now,upperlevel winds aren't favorable for development,but will be soon.
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63. ryang
5:19 PM AST on July 20, 2007
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
530 PM EDT FRI JUL 20 2007

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

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 WITH A WESTWARD
MOVING TROPICAL WAVE. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE NOT CONDUCIVE FOR
DEVELOPMENT AT THIS TIME...BUT ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS COULD
BECOME A LITTLE MORE FAVORABLE IN A DAY OR TWO.

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

Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 329 Comments: 12397
62. GainesvilleGator
9:13 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Lets hope the WU bloggers get the Bill Proenza fiasco out of their system after today & tomorrow & focus on the 2007 Hurricane Season come Sunday. Hopefully this baggage will be behind us when when we start a new week.
Member Since: September 11, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 744
60. tropicfreak
5:18 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
cosmic,we're just taking a look at the storm.
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59. HurricaneGeek
5:17 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Sure freak, I just wanted to make sure I knew what you were talking about.
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58. CosmicEvents
9:13 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
What's the problem that some have with discussing the Congressional hearings instead of droning on about blobs? This is Dr. Master's blog, and it's him that's written about the whole NHC saga, and the science and politics involved.
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56. tropicfreak
5:16 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Yes thanks for correcting me geek
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55. 900MB
9:13 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Ok, so I'm a little fixated on a little spin down by the Yucatan with very little convection. Why? Heat and little shear. If that little spin finds some convection, something may happen. Pressure down again to 29.91 in last hour (and this is more than 100 miles from the center of the low). Here are the latest Yucatan Buoy obs:

Wind Direction (WDIR): ENE ( 60 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 11.7 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 13.6 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 2.6 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 6 sec
Average Period (APD): 3.9 sec
Mean Wave Direction (MWD): E ( 99 deg true )
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.91 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -0.04 in ( Falling )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 85.5 °F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 86.5 °F
Dew Point (DEWP): 76.1 °F
Heat Index (HEAT): 95.4 °F
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54. HurricaneGeek
5:16 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
You mean 70W and 17N? correct...LOL
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53. HurricaneGeek
5:15 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Okay tropicfreak...maybe so I dont know
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52. tropicfreak
5:15 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
70N 17S
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51. tropicfreak
5:13 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
The one stretching from pueto rico into the atlantic basin
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49. HurricaneGeek
5:12 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: tropicfreak at 5:10 PM EDT on July 20, 2007.
I know texascane I was just posting it so we can look at it till the 530 two comes up.And for the warnings,i think we'll see td3 in less than 24 hours

Where? what Lat and Lon?
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47. FloorManBroward
5:13 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
July 20, 2007.
Launch as seen on TV..

That's not how it was on my TV.We had black and white
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46. tropicfreak
5:10 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
tropicalman there is a wave that could develop it's a good looking storm,in an area with low shear and very hot waters.
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44. moonlightcowboy
9:10 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Is saying that he's not an effective leader, bashing him? Don't think so.

...wish I'd never got on this pitiful topic...but it's okay for everyone else to I suppose!

...gotta run, later. Hope whomever enjoys the free-spirited, tropical, weather-related topic blogging...that's ONE-SIDED! That was mostly good debate; but not quintessential sportman-like conduct. I tried to be.

Later, all.
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43. tropicfreak
5:08 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
I know texascane I was just posting it so we can look at it till the 530 two comes up.And for the warnings,i think we'll see td3 in less than 24 hours
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42. moonlightcowboy
9:08 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
No idea, TCC. Who can I see about that? It's not right. I've seen far worse on here, that's for sure. And, shoot, nearly everyone has bashed Proenza in some form or another.
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38. tropicfreak
5:05 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
I can't wait till the 530 TWO
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34. moonlightcowboy
9:04 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Well, glad to see we're trying to get back on the weather; but, I do notice my posts were pulled. What's up with that?

There were no personal attacks, except for bashing Proenza.
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31. tropicfreak
5:03 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
000
ABNT20 KNHC 201521
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT FRI JUL 20 2007

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

DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS EXTENDING FROM PUERTO RICO
NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE ATLANTIC FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES ARE
ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE AND AN UPPER-LEVEL LOW.
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE CURRENTLY NOT FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT...BUT
COULD BECOME MORE FAVORABLE DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

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

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN




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28. Patrap
3:59 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Launch as seen on TV..

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715

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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.