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Hurricane Imaging Radiometer to Improve Hurricane Forecasting

Hurricane warnings and forecasts have markedly improved over the past several decades, but land falling hurricanes continue to be one of the most catastrophic weather events to life and property. Over the past 40 years, the main focus of hurricane monitoring has been achieved using passive microwave radiometry to make Earth science observations from space. The Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD) is a passive radiometer enabled to make these Earth science observations, such as ocean surface wind speed and rain rates, from an airborne platform, allowing for greater spatial and temporal resolution that provides more detailed observations. HIRAD is developed and maintained by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and has flown in the 2010 Hurricane experiment GRIP (Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes). Improved spatial and temporal sampling of ocean surface winds are provided by HIRAD over the full dynamic range of wind speeds in a tropical system, from light to hurricane force, even in the presence of strong precipitation. HIRAD's observations have the potential to improve Hurricane forecasts and warnings, as well as investigate a large range of science questions, including atmospheric, ocean, land, and ice processes.

Currently scientists at USRA's Science and Technology Institute are involved in development of NASA's C-Band, Dual Polarized, Multi-Frequency, Compact Antenna Design. The goal is to improve the HIRAD, and focus on developing a dual polarized four frequency antenna.