Scientists are flying into snowstorms to study them •

Scientists are flying into snowstorms to study them


Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard describes how scientists are flying into snowstorms in order to gain a better understanding of them. The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) project is designed to clarify how storms develop and how snow bands can be used to predict snowfall. 

An international team of experts is tracking storms for IMPACTS with the help of two NASA planes that are equipped with top notch scientific instruments. The NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s ER-2 will fly at 65,000 feet to get a top-down view of the storm clouds.

The second aircraft, the P-3 Orion, will fly at altitudes of up to 26,000 feet and will use probes to measure the size, shape, and distribution of precipitation particles. 

“A project like IMPACTS can really complement those spacecraft measurements with aircraft measurements that are higher resolution, higher accuracy, sample an event more frequently, and provide additional parameters such as Doppler measurements,” explained John Yorks, one of the deputy principal investigators.

“Snowstorms are really complicated storms, and we need every piece of data – models, aircraft instruments, meteorological soundings – to really figure out what’s going on within these storms,” said Gerry Heymsfield, another deputy principal investigator for IMPACTS.

The research will lead to more accurate snowfall forecasts, and may ultimately help mitigate the social and economic impacts of snowstorms.

Video Credit: NASA

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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