Thursday, April 17, 2008

NASA satellite data tracks ocean winds

Terra Daily: The U.S. space agency says data from its "QuikScat" satellite is being used by several new atlases of ocean wind patterns around the globe. National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists say the satellite data are benefiting a wide range of users, from those who sail the seas to Coast Guard and similar organizations that conduct search and rescue missions.

"People know high winds are found in big storms," said Shang-Ping Xie of the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii. "What is most surprising from our research is that narrow ocean currents have such a large effect on the occurrence of high winds. For example, in cold (bends) of the Atlantic's Gulf Stream, the frequency of high winds drops by an order of magnitude," he said. "This knowledge can provide navigators with a 'safe harbor' for ships."

Turbulent wind vortex off the Canary Islands, shot by NASA, Wikimedia Commons

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