Deep Heat - Sail Magazine

Deep Heat

Shell and NOAA team up to improve hurricane forecasting New thermal sensors are the keyBy Kate PiserchiaThere are deep pockets of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico where a passing hurricane, already a danger, can rapidly morph into a monster.How and why hurricanes intensify is not entirely clear, but a move by Shell Oil Co. to install new underwater thermal
Author:
Publish date:

Shell and NOAA team up to improve hurricane forecasting
New thermal sensors are the key

By Kate Piserchia

There are deep pockets of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico where a passing hurricane, already a danger, can rapidly morph into a monster.

How and why hurricanes intensify is not entirely clear, but a move by Shell Oil Co. to install new underwater thermal sensors on one of its Gulf oil platforms may shed more light on this phenomenon.

“We’re still learning the mechanisms that cause a storm to strengthen or weaken,” said Steve Letro, the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Florida. “While we have a general knowledge of the factors that favor intensification, this is one of those cases where the devil is in the details.”

Some of these details may be found in data obtained from thermal sensors. Located on platform “Brutus,” the sensors will measure water temperatures up to depths of 328 feet. This data could help hurricane scientists make more accurate intensity predictions.

“You can get some idea of the heat by just measuring the sea surface temperature, but what’s really important is measuring how deep that heat is,” Letro said. “That gives you an idea of total heat content available to the storm.”

Installation of these sensors is part of a larger, collaborative effort by Shell and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to put data collected from seven Gulf platforms—including Brutus—toward hurricane research, forecasting, and coastal resource management. Oceanographic and meteorological data will be made available in real-time to National Weather Service forecast offices, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, and the public via NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center Web site, www.ndbc.noaa.gov.

Gulf deepwater gas and oil platform operators already are required to transmit ocean-current observations to NOAA, but the provisions of the signed agreement between Shell and NOAA will transcend current federal regulations. Weather stations on four Shell platforms will receive upgrades, including direct transmission to NOAA’s geostationary satellites, complete with backup battery power, according to Shell Media Relations Coordinator Robin Lebovitz.

Other installations include high frequency radar transmitters off the coast of Texas and ocean wave and current instruments on platform “Auger.” Completion of all projects is expected in late 2009.

Related

Outremer45

Boat Review: Outremer 45

It’s funny the way things that work right almost inevitably tend to look right as well. Case in point: the Outremer 45, a catamaran that can’t help but turn heads with its large rig, nicely sculpted cabintrunk and narrow, purposeful bows. Better yet, under sail the boat more than ...read more

Sunset-Tyrrel-Bay

Charter: Glorious Grenada

In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last year many charterers ended up going farther south to Grenada and the Grenadines where they found the sailing excellent and the vibe just fine“God must have been a sailor when he created the Caribbean,” a friend ...read more

WaterLinesNov

Waterlines: Tangled Up in Pots

I learned to sail on the Maine coast as a boy, and one of the things my elders taught me was to respect fishing gear. If you got caught up with a lobster pot, you did everything you could to get clear without cutting the pot warp. It represented a family’s livelihood and thus was ...read more

7353

Harken’s Reflex 3 top-down Furler

Furl PowerAre you afraid of flying—spinnakers, that is? Harken’s new Reflex 3 top-down furler will tame A-sails on monohulls from 44-58ft and multis from 39-55ft, and Code 0’s on 39-54ft monos and 36-50ft multis. All you do is heave on the furling line and the sail will roll up ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more