HRD kicks off 2021 Hurricane Field Program

Scientists from AOML and other agencies participating in NOAA’s 2021 Hurricane Field Program’s Advancing the Prediction of Hurricanes Experiment (APHEX) met on 26 May to kick off the season. APHEX was developed in partnership with NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center, National Hurricane Center, Aircraft Operations Center, and AOML’s Physical Oceanography Division. It is intended to improve our understanding and prediction of hurricane track, intensity, structure, and associated hazards by collecting observations that will aid in the improvement of current operational hurricane models, such as the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model, and the development of the next-generation operational hurricane models.

During much of the season, APHEX will collaborate with two other programs. First, NASA’s Convective Processes Experiment – Aerosols & Winds (CPEX-AW) is a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) with the primary goal of conducting a post-launch calibration and validation activities of the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission-Aeolus (ADM-AEOLUS) Earth observation wind Lidar satellite in St. Croix. The goal is to understand how convective clouds interact with the wind, observe the marine boundary layer and how it impacts convection, look at how tropical waves and dry air and dust in the Saharan Air Layer control convection, and how all these impact dust transport and air quality across the basin. In addition, the Office of Naval Research Tropical Cyclone Rapid Intensification initiative will work to identify the key processes and predictability barriers governing the rapid intensification of tropical cyclones.

New this season are the use of the Altius-600, a new Uncrewed Aerial System for research into tropical cyclones. Air-Launched Autonomous Micro Observer (ALAMO) floats can be launched from NOAA’s P3 aircraft to provide 100 – 150 profiles of ocean conditions down to 1000 m depth, and small drifters will measure conditions at the ocean surface. Saildrones will also provide weather and ocean data at the surface as the wind pushes them along. A Compact rotational Raman Lidar will measure temperature, moisture, and small particles from the aircraft to the surface. A Terrestrial High-energy Observations of Radiation instrument will measure gamma radiation associated with lightning.

Different components of APHEX are broken down into Genesis, Early, Mature, and End stages of the tropical cyclone lifecycle. Other components involve ocean observations and satellite validation. Documentation of plans for the current season can be found at You can see the slides from the presentation at

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