Tropical Cyclones Toolkit

Tropical cyclonic storms are low-pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters where sea surface temperatures are greater than 79°F (26°C). Because of this critical temperature, they occur in different seasons in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. These massive storms bring sustained heavy wind and torrential rain that can devastate coastal communities with storm surges and coastal and inland areas with flooding and wind damage.

NASA provides a wealth of Earth observing data that can aid in pre-storm emergency preparedness by helping urban planners and emergency management professionals understand the exposure and vulnerabilities to communities. Following a storm, these data are vital tools for damage assessment and response. This toolkit is designed to support research into tropical cyclone-related disasters by providing easy access to data and other resources.

Discover and Visualize Data

Image
Group for High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature (GHRSST) Multi-scale Ultra-high Resolution (MUR) Sea Surface Temperature in Worldview. NASA’s EOSDIS Worldview imagery mapping and visualization application provides the capability to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers.
Image

Rainfall

Tropical cyclones bring intense amounts of rain over short periods of time, which can lead to flooding in coastal communities. Measuring the location and intensity of rainfall within a storm aids in weather predictions and allows for more rapid and reliable warnings and advisories.

Webinars

Data Tutorials/ Recipes

Image

Sea Surface Temperature (SST)

The temperature of water at the ocean's surface plays a significant role in tropical storms, especially for driving and sustaining these storms. Where sea surface temperatures are high, relatively large amounts of heat energy and moisture enter the atmosphere, sometimes producing intense storms.

Webinars

Data Tutorials/ Recipes

Image

Socioeconomic Cyclone-Related Data

Socioeconomic data help assess the exposure and vulnerability of a community to a disaster, such as a tropical cyclone. Exposure is the presence of people, ecosystems, and infrastructure in places that could be adversely affected; vulnerability is the likelihood of being adversely affected.

Flood

Population

Webinars

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Image

Sea Level Pressure Data

Atmospheric pressure at sea level is important for the development of tropical cyclonic storms. Low pressure systems generally produce high winds and warmer air, which are ideal for storm formation.

Image

Wind Data

A tropical cyclonic storm's sustained wind speed is used to determine its category, which provides an estimate of a storm's destructive power. Being able to forecast and monitor near real-time wind speed is critical for developing estimates of potential property damage from these storms.

Image

Soil Moisture

Soil moisture data are useful in predicting which local regions in the path of an impending tropical cyclonic storm may experience flooding. Soil moisture controls the amount of water that can infiltrate the ground, replenish aquifers, or contribute to excess runoff.

Webinars

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Image

Humidity, Clouds, and Cloud Top Temperature

One important ingredient for tropical storm formation is high relative humidity values from the ocean surface to the mid levels of the atmosphere. As this warm, humid air rises, it creates extensive areas of clouds, precipitation, and embedded thunderstorms. Strong thunderstorms reaching high into the atmosphere often are associated with very cold cloud top temperatures. These temperature data can also indicate if the strongest storms in a tropical cyclone are being pushed away from the storm's center, indicating wind shear.

Image

Assessing Flood Inundation with Land Surface Reflectance Data and Imagery

Understanding and mapping flood inundation is critical for assessing the scope of a tropical cyclone, determining where damage is greatest, and facilitating relief efforts.

Webinars

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Image

Assessing Flood Inundation with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Imagery

Understanding and mapping flood inundation is critical to assessing the scope of a disaster, where damage is greatest, and how to respond with relief efforts. SAR imagery is a valuable tool for assessing post-storm flood and storm-surge damage along with landscape and coastline changes caused by cyclonic storms. The wavelengths used for creating SAR imagery can penetrate clouds, smoke, soil, ice, and tree canopies, meaning that high-relief SAR imagery can be created day or night, rain or shine.

Webinars

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Image

Detecting Power Outages Using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB)

VIIRS DNB imagery show Earth’s surface and atmosphere using a sensor designed to capture low-light emission sources under varying illumination conditions. This product is an excellent resource for assessing power outages across large areas. NASA's Black Marble product removes cloud-contaminated pixels and corrects for atmospheric, terrain, vegetation, snow, lunar, and stray light effects on the VIIRS DNB radiances and enables nightlight data to be used effectively for scientific observations.

Last Updated
Feb 12, 2021