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SMOS meets ocean monsters

30 September 2015

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ESA's SMOS and two other satellites are together providing insight into how surface winds evolve under tropical storm clouds in the Pacific Ocean. This new information could to help predict extreme weather at sea.

This year, a particularly strong El Niño is resulting in much higher surface ocean temperatures than normal. The surplus heat that is being drawn into the atmosphere is helping to breed tropical cyclones - Pacific Ocean monsters. With eight major hurricanes already, this year's hurricane season is the fifth most active in the Eastern Tropical Pacific since 1971.

At the end of August, three category-4 hurricanes developed in parallel near Hawaii.

A collage from NASA's Terra satellite captured the Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena hurricanes beautifully.

However, a special set of eyes is needed to see through the clouds that are so characteristic of these mighty storms so that the speed of the wind at the ocean surface can be measured.

Source: European Space Agency (ESA)

Image credit: Ifremer–N. Reul, J. Tenerelli & E. Zabolotskikh /ESA SMOS+STORM project - Wind speed measurements of Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena

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