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Old 12-06-2007, 22:21   #1
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Please...somebody debunk this as a Snopes-esque myth:

Hurricane satellite could fail anytime
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Old 12-06-2007, 23:13   #2
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It looks like it's for real. The satellite's name is QuikScat, and a web search finds a bunch of news articles about it, all apparently based on a single AP report.

QuikScat is a radar used to gather high resolution measurements of the wind speed and direction in the ocean. The big concern seems to be that hurricane track predictions will be a little less accurate without the Quikscat data, which will lead to wider areas being evacuated because of greater uncertainty where the hurricane might make landfall.

The "replacement" looks like it is intended to do a lot more than just what QuikScat does. If it is going to take so long, it is unclear to me why they don't just issue an RFP for "get out the old design and make us another one of these". It may be that a new satellite will have much better capabilities in 10 years, but if we're not sure, it might even make sense to make two new quikscats and keep one as a spare.
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Old 13-06-2007, 00:36   #3
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Old 13-06-2007, 01:26   #4
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According to U.S. Rep. Ron Klein:
Launched in 1999, evidently NASA designed QuikSCAT* with a three-to-five year life span, and a replacement for QuikSCAT will not be ready to launch for another three to five years, at the earliest. NOAA and NASA are working on several options to mitigate the pending loss of QuikSCAT.
Klein’s Press Release:
Mymember - Template - Press Release - Klein Calls for Meeting With Air Force On Status of Hurricane Tracker Planes

See also:
GIS News:Concerns over survival of QuikSCAT shown
Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Reps :: Press Release :: Lampson Concerned About Survival of Vital Hurricane Tracking Satellite
Weather satellite's failure stirs fears

The “Improved Hurricane Tracking and Forecasting Act of 2007” (H.R. 2531) would authorize $375 million for NASA to design and launch a replacement satellite for QuikSCAT, incorporating improved technology to continue forecasting for hurricanes, coastal winds and storm surge, and other weather-related disasters. The bill would also require that NASA provide annual reports on the status of the program to ensure fiscal responsibility and up-to-date operational information on the status of the satellite.
Goto:
GovTrack: H.R. 2531: Text of Legislation
WashingtonWatch.com - S. 1509, The Improved Hurricane Tracking and Forecasting Act of 2007

* The SeaWinds instrument on the QuikSCAT satellite is a specialized radar that measures near-surface wind speed and direction at a 25km resolution. This instrument was launched on June 19, 1999; and has been measuring winds over approximately 90% of the ice-free ocean on a daily basis since then. The SeaWinds scatterometer onboard QuikSCAT is a Ku-band scatterometer that estimates Ocean Surface Vector Wind (OSVW) by measuring the backscatter due to centimeter-scale capillary waves on the ocean surface.

See also: Next Generation Ocean Vector Wind Mission (XOVWM)
“NOAA Operational Ocean Surface Vector Winds Requirements Workshop”
http://www.ofcm.gov/tcr/reference/Oc...port_final.pdf
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Old 13-06-2007, 11:16   #5
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QuikSCAT is a great bit of technology, and provides near-real-time wind data over most of the globe. I imagine that it must really help with the initialization of the various weather prediction models.

Here is a link to a website where you can see QuickSCAT wind data:QuikSCAT
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Old 13-06-2007, 13:31   #6
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So, if QuikSCAT were to take a dumper, say tomorrow...we'd be less able to accurately track hurricanes for the next nine to ten storm seasons...?
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Old 15-06-2007, 16:26   #7
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The reports indicate that the accuracy of hurricane tracks would be degraded by about 10% with the loss of QuickScat.

The primary result would be the need to expand the warning area, resulting in more false warning and evacuations.

While it is not a good thing, the sky is not falling and we would not be without forecast coverage... just loose some of the ability to predict tracks as accurately as present in both time and location.
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Old 15-06-2007, 21:43   #8
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I guess that's not the end of the forcasting world, but it does exacerbate a fairly common human denial syndrome, the "Aw, what do they know" thing, which keeps people from evacuating (homes, boats, etc.) when they should, and gives others false senses of security. The more accurate our forecasting turns out to be, the more people will pay attention to it.
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Old 16-06-2007, 07:38   #9
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the sad part is now the new hurricane director got a letter or reprimand for tell the press that there are issues with not only this but other issues in making sure hurricanes are forecast and tracked accurately. seems the folks in washington understand that there are issues but when it is put in the public forum that got upset that we in south fla (i live in miami) should know that there are major issues - sounds a bit like hiding the truth to me - more nonsense from washington
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