As the climate changes, superstorms are becoming more common. Earthzine staff explore how severe weather affects people and how remote sensing can change our understanding of storms.Earthzine’s latest monthly focus topic comes as spring begins to brighten the northern hemisphere. For the month of March, our focus topic articles center on superstorms – massive storms that effect millions of people – and how monitoring these storms is helping scientists and policymakers to minimize damage.
First up, a scatterometer called the ISS-RapidScat delivers valuable measurements for weather models, storm tracking, and forecasting. Built from spare parts to replace another scatterometer that ceased to function, this workhorse from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab tracks high-latitude storms because ISS passes over spots along the East Coast of the U.S. every hour for 12 hours each day.
On the coasts, superstorms like Katrina and Sandy wreak havoc and take lives. It’s becoming apparent that local governments are better off joining forces and sharing data to keep people safe.
Inland, severe storms can damage oil wells, which can cause massive spills that affect drinking water sources. Mapping these wells can help policymakers site oil wells and storage containers away from floodplains.
And as the grasp of winter loosens, two scientists discuss how they’re gaining a better understanding of how much snow is falling when it’s falling – a step up from forecasts that never seem quite accurate.