NPR's "Science Friday" spotlights Owen Kelley (A93)'s work at NASA with satellite imagery
What can we learn from satellite data about Hurricane Sandy? NASA's Owen Kelley (A93) is using satellite data to visualize the internal structure of superstorm Sandy. NPR's Science Friday video gives more information.
At NASA, Kelley develops visualization software for TRMM satellite. “TRMM is the first and only satellite in space that carries a radar that can measure the detailed three-dimensional structure of regions of rain and ice precipitation that hide inside of storm clouds. Such observations help scientists around the world to probe the unsolved mysterious about what makes severe weather tick.” Since 1997, Kelley has been a research scientist at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Md.
“My first thought when I saw the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) overflight of Sandy, one day before landfall, was that the storm cells just outside the eye were unimpressive. There were none of the very tall cells (hot towers) that can indicate intensification of the hurricane's destructive winds. When I thought about it a bit longer, I realized it was actually amazing that Hurricane Sandy was able to have such a ‘neat and tidy’ring of storms around the eye considering that, in the preceding days, Hurricane Sandy's strength was marginal and failing. I guess this is the story that NPR thought was compelling. TRMM shows the unexpected: the storm-cloud machinery of the engine powering Hurricane Sandy was still operating at the hurricane's core despite the forces that were trying to shut it down.” In 2008, Kelley earned a PhD in Computational Sciences from George Mason University while working at NASA. His dissertation attempted to establish a link he says, “between hurricane hot towers and hurricane intensification.”