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Next-Generation Satellite Dissects Storms From Top To Bottom

Meteorologists are getting a whole new view of the weather systems that bring rain, snow and ice thanks to an instrument launched into orbit earlier this year. The next-generation Global Precipitation Measurement satellite and a constellation of other observatories and relays scan the entire globe every three hours to send back an avalanche of data.

Read more and see the video below.

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Designs Would Put Surveillance Drones Over Hurricanes For A Week At A Time

The three designs above won a NASA competition to envision the next generation of hurricane surveillance drones. 

The agency asked teams to develop an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that could stay aloft for seven days at a time and offer persistent remote sensing over a period of five months. That timeframe covers a typical Atlantic hurricane season, and the agency’s goal is to closely follow storm formation from when a tropical wave moves off Africa’s west coast through the full life cycle of the weather system.

Current UASs used for tropical storm monitoring are similar to the military Global Hawk surveillance and security platform, and can only stay aloft for 24 hours at a time before they need to come home.

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Tiny Drones Deliver Bird’s-Eye View Of Hurricanes

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by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science

When a major storm develops, we want to know where it will hit and how strong it will be. Currently, the best way to study a hurricane is to fly a plane near the storm to collect data. But, that approach can be costly, not to mention very dangerous.

“If you look at Katrina, we were completely wrong with the intensity of the hurricane” said Kamran Mohseni, an aerospace engineer at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

To track storms now, aircraft fly over the storms and drop a device that collects data as it falls through the clouds. But it’s not a perfect way to collect information.

“You put people at risk. The airplane is at risk and it is extremely expensive, and if you crash, that’s major news,” said Mohseni.

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World Cup Players Hope To Beat The Heat

by Peter Gwynne, Inside Science

Soccer’s quadrennial World Cup is scheduled to start on time this week in Brazil, despite delays in creating the necessary infrastructure, strikes, charges of corruption, and deaths of workers in new stadiums. But one problem remains: climate conditions that will sap the strength and vitality – and possibly damage the health – of the elite players who represent the 32 nations in the tournament.

That’s ironic, because the event is taking place in the southern winter – the natural season for the game. But for several international teams, the tourney will represent a winter of discontent.

Stadiums in northern Brazil will host the most extreme weather. Daytime temperatures in some locations will exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity will exceed 75 percent. The conditions will make it difficult for teams to exert maximum effort over the entire match, especially teams from cooler climes.

"In humid conditions, moisture in the atmosphere prevents the evaporation of sweat, which drips instead, a less efficient heat loss mechanism," explained John Brewer, a former head of sport science for the English Football Association and currently a professor of sport at the U.K.’s University of Bedfordshire. "High environmental temperatures also reduce the body’s ability to radiate heat into the atmosphere, so both heat loss mechanisms are compromised."

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