Author Topic: Unique Space Image of Alabama Tornado Tracks  (Read 2216 times)

Offline Conrad

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Unique Space Image of Alabama Tornado Tracks
« on: May 17, 2011, 09:19:21 am »
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/16may_groundtracks/

May 16, 2011: NASA has released a unique satellite image tracing the damage of a monster EF-4 tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on April 27th. It combines visible and infrared data to reveal damage unseen in conventional photographs.

"This is the first time we've used the ASTER instrument to track the wake of a super-outbreak of tornadoes," says NASA meteorologist Gary Jedlovec of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.


An ASTER visible-IR image of tornado damage near Tuscaloosa, AL

click for larger image, http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2011/05/16/groundtrack_big.jpg

In the picture, captured just days after the storm, pink represents vegetation and aqua is the absence of vegetation. The tornado ripped up everything in its path, scouring the Earth's surface with its terrible force. The "tearing up" of vegetation makes the tornado's track stand out as a wide swath of aqua.

"This image and others like it are helping us study the torn landscape to determine just how huge and powerful these twisters were and to assess the damage they inflicted," says Jedlovec.

ASTER, short for Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, orbits Earth onboard NASA's Terra spacecraft. Its data products include digital elevation maps from stereo images; surface temperatures; vegetation maps; cloud and sea ice data; and more. Last spring the instrument helped track the movement of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuscaloosa Tornado Damage Aerials Part 1


To detect the scars left by the twisters, ASTER senses the visible and infrared energy reflected from the planet's surface. Destruction like crushed houses, torn and snapped trees, and uprooted crops are evident in the multi-wavelength images.

"A demolished house, debris and soil scattered on vegetated surfaces, and damaged trees and crops all change the pattern of reflected radiation measured by the satellite," explains Jedlovec. "We can analyze these patterns to help storm survey teams evaluate the damage."

Ground teams conducting field surveys of tornado damage must try to pinpoint where the twisters touched down, how long they stayed on the ground, and the force of their winds. But doing this from ground level can be tricky. Some places are nearly impossible to reach by foot or car. Also, in remote areas, damage often goes unreported, so survey teams don't know to look there.

This is where satellites can help.

"To get an accurate picture survey teams need to look everywhere that sustained damage – even unreported areas. Satellite sensors detect damage in rural areas, wilderness areas, and other unpopulated areas. Only with that knowledge can surveyors determine the true track of a tornado."

Otherwise, says Jedlovec, a twister could have flattened a single dwelling in a remote location, killing everyone inside, and no one would know.


Another sample of ASTER tornado data showing three nearly-parallel tracks of destruction.

larger image, http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/542707main_sport_0607_falsecolor_lg.jpg



Less critical but still important are home owners' insurance issues. To evaluate claims submitted by storm victims, insurance companies rely on National Weather Service storm reports based on the field surveys.

"Let's say you live in a remote area," says Jedlovec. "If there's no record of a storm passing over your area, you could be out of luck."

Jedlovec and colleagues are working now to produce satellite images of other areas ravaged by the historic outbreak of tornadoes.

"We want to help the storm victims any way we can."

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Offline VirginiaJim

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Re: Unique Space Image of Alabama Tornado Tracks
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2011, 02:42:06 pm »
OMG!
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Offline Conrad

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Re: Unique Space Image of Alabama Tornado Tracks
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2011, 10:02:50 am »
That's what I said Jim.
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Offline Assassin 11B3P

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Re: Unique Space Image of Alabama Tornado Tracks
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 01:07:42 am »
here's a link to some tornado footage. bonus points if you speak spanish. got to admit that whoever filmed it either has brass balls the size of texas or is just really stupid. maybe i should start a poll on that question!


 
Please use this forum to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated.