Science and Technology News

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NASA's Hurricane Twitter Exceeds 200,000 Followers


Hurricanes aren't just a seasonal event for the U.S. space program. Since either the northern or southern hemisphere is always in "hurricane season," the demand is constant for updates on current storms and the latest information, images and videos are always available via NASA's hurricane website, Twitter and Facebook pages.

The value and popularity of this effort was validated recently when NASA's Hurricane Twitter, which posts the web site's updates, exceeded 200,000 followers - a landmark that just a few NASA Twitter accounts have reached.

By having NASA's hurricane web page tied into Facebook and Twitter, the agency has created a one-stop for anyone interested in hurricanes. The trio highlight NASA's hurricane research efforts in addition to providing the latest storm information.

"Social media like Twitter and Facebook have helped bring an awareness to NASA's hurricane efforts that wasn't there before," said Rob Gutro, manager of NASA's Hurricane Web Page, at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "That awareness became obvious through the worldwide contacts established through social media."

Tropical cyclones, the general name for a hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, tropical storm or tropical depression, form in different regions of the world at different times of the year. When the northern hemisphere hurricane season is active, the southern hemisphere is in winter-time, and vice-versa. So, when there's snow on the ground in the U.S., chances are the southern Indian Ocean or southern Pacific Ocean is dealing with a tropical cyclone.

NASA has a fleet of Earth observing satellites that continually provide data on various aspects of tropical cyclones. NASA's Aqua, Terra, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, CloudSat, Landsat, and the NOAA GOES series of satellites that NASA creates data and animations from, are all represented on the NASA Hurricane page and social media. Each of these satellites has different instruments that provide different ways to look at tropical cyclones- from infrared to microwave, from visible to rainfall data.

The NASA Hurricane page, Twitter and Facebook pages offer daily storm updates and satellite images, latest research, stunning video animations, educational tools, scientist profiles and historic storm information, on all storms going back to 2005, including monsters like Katrina.

NASA's Facebook page was started in 2010, and currently has over 7,500 followers. The "NASAHurricane" Twitter account hit the 200,000 mark when Cyclone Irina was in the Mozambique Channel in early March, after causing damages in Madagascar. Between Facebook, Twitter and the NASA Hurricane Web page NASA strives to keep people around the world informed of tropical cyclones at any time of year.

Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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