Paper on forecast improvements due to dropsonde data from the Global Hawk aircraft published in Monthly Weather Review

Starting in 2010, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have used the Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft that can fly at 65,000 feet for 24 hours at a time, to make observations in tropical cyclones. The Global Hawk can release dropsondes that measure temperature, humidity, pressure, and wind velocity 4 times every second as it falls to the earth. These data are put into a forecast model using the most up-to-date methods. This study looks at whether Global Hawk dropsonde data can improve forecasts of where the tropical cyclone will go and how strong it will be when it gets there.

 Important Conclusions:

  1. Global Hawk dropsonde data can be combined with data from regular Hurricane Hunter aircraft and from satellites to improve tropical cyclone forecasts.
  2. Global Hawk dropsonde data close to the center improves forecasts of how strong the tropical cyclone will be. This is due to the large amount of accurate data obtained in that region that cannot be gathered in any other way.
  3. Global Hawk dropsonde data further away from the center may improve forecasts of where the tropical cyclone will go.
  4. This study can help to design Global Hawk flights to get the largest forecast improvement possible.


You can read the paper at