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

Before-and-after-1_silo

Know How: Cleaning Stainless

Without a doubt, the best way to “clean” stainless steel parts is to have them electropolished. Electropolishing is an electrochemical process that cleans the stainless and removes any surface iron particles, leaving a shiny and far more rust-resistant surface. The downsides of ...read more

catstory

Cruising: Sailing With a Young Family

The dark is alive when you are surrounded by water. Black is tinted blue and silver, and sky meets surf with electricity and the lapping sounds of silence. Inside our 36ft catamaran, moored off Cooper Island in the BVI, the raw nature outside, just now settling down from a late ...read more

IslandPacket349

Boat Review: Island Packet 349

After years of quiescence in the wake of the Great Recession, iconic Island Packet is back with its new 349, a re-boot of the old Estero that not only looks great, but takes the Island Packet style of sailing performance to a new level. Design & Construction First among the many ...read more

190219NEEL51

Video Tour: Neel 51 Trimaran

At this past fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, SAIL magazine had a chance to corner Neel Trimarans founder Eric Bruneel and have him give us a tour of the accommodations aboard the new Neel 51, winner of the “Multihull over 50ft” category in the 2019 Best Boats contest. For a complete ...read more

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more