Science and Technology News

Thursday, April 21, 2011

NASA's TRMM Satellite Estimates Australia's Cyclone Season Rainfall

Australia has been hit with a number of cyclones this season, and some of them left behind a legacy of extraordinary amounts of rainfall. NASA's TRMM satellite measures rainfall from space and data from it was used to create a map of total cyclone rainfall. The TRMM satellite is managed by both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was used to create the cyclone rain maps. TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA), data were used in an analysis to show rainfall contributed by tropical cyclones that have affected Australia in 2011. Hal Pierce of the NASA TRMM team created the image and included the tracks of tropical cyclones on the image.

"The largest tropical cyclone rainfall contribution was over the coast of northwestern Australia with estimated totals of over 600 millimeters (~23.6 inches)," Pierce said. "Cyclones Bianca, Carlos, Twenty, Errol and their remnants were close enough to the northwestern coast of Australia to add to these rainfall totals."

Cyclones Anthony and Yasi compounded flooding from record breaking heavy rainfall over northeastern Australia. This analysis shows that the remnants of Yasi dropped heavy rainfall over the center of Australia after devastating Queensland's northern coast. Size, rainfall intensity and speed of movement are some of the factors that affect the amount of rainfall from tropical cyclones. Deadly tropical cyclone Yasi affected a very large area of Australia while Errol was relatively small and added little rain to seasonal totals as it recently brushed northwestern Australia.

Text Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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