Posts Tagged ‘NOAA’

Geospatial Technologies Track Season’s Hurricanes

Thursday, September 8th, 2011


Last spring, we wrote about the many ways that Geospatial Technologies impact our daily lives – from navigating unfamiliar neighborhoods to tracking the world’s most wanted terrorist.

For residents of the East Coast, recent daily life has centered on Hurricane Irene, the giant storm that wreaked havoc from North Carolina to Northern New England. And, as we’ve seen, Geospatial Technologies have once again been key, aiding meteorologists in their storm assessments and helping to inform the public about the storm’s path and severity.

From the first signs of a storm’s formation, Global Positioning Systems track the path of a hurricane. The satellite systems carefully followed the storm’s progression, enabling viewers to track the hurricane’s route on a map, like this one featured on By making it easy to see the locations where the storm had previously hit and where it was expected to hit, these detailed maps gave travelers and local residents a heads-up on the storm’s path.

Meteorologists also rely on GPS for flood prediction, assessing water vapor content by analyzing transmissions of GPS data through the atmosphere. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricanes can lose strength if they take on large amounts of dry air. Conversely, if moisture conditions are favorable, a hurricane can rapidly gain strength. GPS systems can help in hurricane forecasting, measuring moisture by assessing the time it takes signals to reach and return from a GPS satellite far above the Earth.

And, after a hurricane or another natural disaster has struck, Geospatial Technologies play another important role. According to, GIS (Geographical Information Systems) are used in many phases of disaster management. GIS professionals can provide immediate assistance following a storm or other natural disaster by helping decision makers at the local, state and federal levels to understand the scope of the damage and identifying locations where people may be trapped or injured, or require medical support and rescue. notes that specific examples of how Geospatial Technology supports disaster relief include rapid identification of potential shelters (schools, libraries, churches, public buildings), identification of supplies and materials necessary for response and recovery, identification of locations suitable for staging areas and incident command posts to provide logistical support for public safety personnel.

Check out ATE’s GeoTech Center website to learn more about the technologies and the wide-ranging career and educational opportunities in the field of Geotech.

And don’t forget to stay on top of the latest storm track– as we write this, GPS systems from the U.S. National Hurricane Center have indicated that Hurricane Katia is moving west-northwest across the Atlantic with Tropical Storms Maria and Nate following closely behind!