Residents of Western North Carolina know that our weather is hard to predict. So does NASA, which has launched a campaign aimed at better understanding precipitation patterns in the Appalachian Mountains:
Rain, ice, hail, severe winds, thunderstorms, and heavy fog — the Appalachian Mountains in the southeast United States have it all. On May 1, NASA begins a campaign in Western North Carolina to better understand the difficult-to-predict weather patterns of mountain regions. The field campaign serves as ground truth for measurements made by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission’s Core Observatory.
GPM is an international satellite mission to observe rain and snow around the world. The advanced instruments on the GPM Core Observatory satellite, launched Feb. 27, provide the next generation of precipitation measurements, including the new capability to detect snow and light rain.
“What we’re trying to do is study and learn about the precipitation from the summit to sea, how it evolves as it moves from the mountains to the plains,” said Walt Petersen of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, who is leading the field campaign. “Then we use that information to improve satellite observations of precipitation and how those observations can best be used in applications like hydrologic models.”
Hydrologic models are used by water managers to predict where rainwater goes after it hits the ground – underground and into streams and rivers where it supplies freshwater to the region, or becomes a natural hazard. Evaluating and improving these models is an important part of the field campaign. …