MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Diane Ainsworth
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 1999
SEAWINDS RADAR INSTRUMENT CAPTURES FURY OF TYPHOON OLGA
NASA's newly launched ocean-viewing radar instrument,
SeaWinds, has been able to capture the fury of Typhoon Olga as it
grew in intensity last week in the China Sea, packing high winds
of more than 50 knots (57 miles per hour) and delivering
torrential rains to South Korea, North Korea and other coastal
communities of south Asia.
Newly released animated data from the radar instrument,
which is flying onboard the recently launched QuikScat
spacecraft, captured Typhoon Olga in its infancy, measuring daily
wind speeds and direction as it progressed from a tropical
depression on July 28, east of the Philippines, to a raging
typhoon. Olga flooded farmlands, shut down highways and railways
and forced at least 15,000 people in Seoul, South Korea, to flee
their homes last week.
SeaWinds is keeping a watchful eye over another tropical
depression, labeled 12W, which has developed west of Mariana
Island in the tropical Pacific and is heading northwest toward
the Asian continent.
"SeaWinds is allowing scientists to determine the location,
structure and strength of these tropical depressions, typhoons
and severe marine storms very quickly as they develop," said Dr.
Timothy Liu, QuikScat project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. "Fifteen times a day, the satellite
beams down science data to ground stations, which then relay the
information to scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. Early notification can help
meteorologists and disaster preparedness services disseminate
information within hours and give people more warning of a
storm's severity and likely path."
Also apparent in the animation are monsoon winds blowing
from the southwest to the northeast across the Arabian Sea and
into India, then gusting over the Bay of Bengal. Swirling regions
of yellow represent high wind speeds of greater than 20 meters
per second (45 miles per hour).
"Typhoons and monsoons have strong economic and
environmental impacts in Japan," said Dr. Naoto Ebuchi of Tohoku
University, Japan, who is participating in calibration testing of
QuikScat at JPL. "Japanese scientists should have a strong
interest in the QuikScat observations."
South of 40 degrees latitude, a series of intense winter
storms are brewing around Antarctica. SeaWinds' spaceborne
ability to monitor winds and their interactions with both the
ocean's surface and large ice sheets will shed new light on the
interplay of the atmosphere, ocean, land and ice with Earth's
global climate system. Images of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans,
showing the locations of these storms, are available at
http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov or at
Since the beginning of its science mission, SeaWinds has
performed beyond expectations, providing a near-global portrait
of wind speeds around the world every day. "The spacecraft and
its SeaWinds instrument are performing fabulously," said Jim
Graf, QuikScat mission manager at JPL. "The data are looking
great, better even than we expected."
"SeaWinds' unprecedented coverage, high resolution and
accuracy, is already providing unique information on Earth's
atmosphere and ocean," said. Dr. Michael Freilich, science team
leader at Oregon State University in Corvallis. "In the coming
months and years, we expect that SeaWinds measurements will play
an increasingly important role in weather prediction,
oceanographic research and climate studies."
The orbiting SeaWinds radar instrument is managed for NASA's
Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC, by the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, which also built the SeaWinds radar instrument and is
providing ground science processing systems. NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, managed development of the
satellite, designed and built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Corp., Boulder, CO. NOAA has contributed support to ground
systems processing and related activities.
NASA's Earth Sciences Enterprise is a long-term research and
technology program designed to examine Earth's land, oceans,
atmosphere, ice and life as a total integrated system. JPL is a
division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.