Paper on gravity waves caused by hurricanes and a potential new way to estimate hurricane intensity released online in Geophysical Research Letters

Summary: Observing tropical cyclones around the world can be very expensive because they occur over oceans where there are few observations. Hurricane Hunter aircraft can reach hurricanes only when they are close to land.

Thunderstorms near the centers of tropical cyclones cause waves (called “gravity waves”) in the atmosphere that move outward in spiral patterns. These waves can be seen in satellite images, from aircraft, and even by weather instruments at the surface. Observing these waves could be used to measure tropical cyclone intensity from long distances.

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Visible images from the Himawari satellite on 12 September 2016 at A) 0304Z and B) 8 minutes later. The red line shows the edge of outward moving gravity waves. Lines show longitude and latitude every 0.25 degrees.

Important Conclusions:

  1. This paper is the first to describe these gravity waves from aircraft and land observations.
  2. These waves may be seen by weather stations around the world.
  3. Computer models show that the waves can be used to measure tropical cyclone intensity.
  4. This work could lead to new ways to monitor tropical cyclones with cheap and numerous surface instruments.

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You can read the paper at