Tuesday, May 12, 2009

World's largest tornado experiment heads for Great Plains

Terra Daily: The largest and most ambitious tornado study in history will begin next week, as dozens of scientists deploy radars and other ground-based instruments across the Great Plains to gain a better understanding of these often-deadly weather events. The collaborative international project, involving scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and a number of other organizations, will examine in detail how tornadoes form and the patterns of damage they cause.

The findings are expected to improve tornado warnings and short-term severe weather forecasts. The field campaign, known as VORTEX2 (Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment 2), will run from May 10 to June 13. A second phase is planned for the spring of 2010.

"We still do not completely understand the processes that lead to tornado formation and shape its development," says Roger Wakimoto, director of NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory and a principal investigator for VORTEX2. "We hope that VORTEX2 will provide the data we need to learn more about the development of tornadoes and in time help forecasters give people more advance warning before a tornado strikes."

The $11.9 million VORTEX2 program is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR, and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…..

Tornado photo by NOAA

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