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NOAA, NASA Team Up to Study El Nino

NOAA, NASA Team Up to Study El NinoNOAA, NASA Team Up to Study El Nino

NASA and NOAA are teaming up again to send NASA’s remotely piloted Global Hawk out over the Pacific to take a closer look at storms brewed by this year’s strong El Nino. The observation flights are part of an ongoing NOAA mission, called Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT).

Based from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, the Global Hawk will fly four to six 24-hour flights during the month of February. The mission will provide detailed meteorological measurements from a region in the Pacific that is known to be particularly critical for interactions linked to storms and rainfall in the US West Coast, ECN Mag reported.

SHOUT is a multi-year NOAA project, designed to demonstrate the use of autonomous aircraft to fill in data gaps for weather modeling systems in case the loss of a polar-orbiting satellite occurs.  

This year SHOUT will support NOAA’s larger El Nino Rapid Response Field Campaign. In addition to the Global Hawk, NOAA will also deploy a Gulfstream IV research plane and NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown that will have researchers stationed on Kiritimati (Christmas) Island in the Republic of Kiribati, approximately 1,340 miles south of Honolulu. Together, scientists will collect atmospheric data from the tropical Pacific where El Nino-driven weather systems are spawned.

El Nino is a recurring climate phenomenon, characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. It is is the warm phase of the ocean cycle known as El Nino-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO for short. La Nina is the cool phase. The pattern can shift back and forth every two to seven years, disrupting weather patterns across the globe.