Kermit Braves the Cold
Ocean Winds Winter Experiment
January 17 through February 9, 2007
February 10, 2007
Ocean Winds completed its last flight yesterday in a second rapidly deepening storm about 500 miles east of St. John's. The storm, packing winds in excess of 90 kts. over a broad region, was sampled by the Ocean Winds team during a QuickScat overpass. This is the second storm of such magnitude to be studied during this deployment, and the data will be very useful in improving the algorithms for ocean wind vector retrievals.
Project Wrap Up
NOAA 42, affectionately known as Kermit, returned to MacDill AFB this past Sunday, 18 February 2007, following a successful completion of the 2007 Ocean Winds Winter experiment. This project, designed to collect validation data for satellite ocean vector wind retrievals in regions of high winds and heavy precipitation, began on January 17th when the aircraft flew to St John's, Newfoundland to begin flights over the North Atlantic and Labrador Sea. During the 1-month period, Kermit was in St. John's, it flew 7 missions over the ocean in support of Ocean Winds, collecting data with its on-board microwave scatterometers, bot C-band and Ku-band, that will be used to validate similar measurements by both the QuickScat satellite and the A-Scat instrument currently flying aboard the European METOP satellite.
The 7 missions flown by Kermit represented a 75% increase in the number of successful missions flown in the same area 2 years ago in 2005. This was extremely fortunate and due entirely to the dedication of the entire crew who worked diligently under conditions of snow, high winds and cold temperatures to launch the flights from St. John's. The environmental background out over the North Atlantic was rather formidable this year at the 3,000 ft. altitude Kermit was flying with winds reaching hurricane force as high as Category 3 on a couple of occasions. In spite of being severely challenged on one flight by high winds and heavy salt concentrations at flight altitude, both the aircraft and crew survived the ordeal and returned to St. John's safely.
While 60 hours of time were allocated to Ocean Winds, the aircraft and crew actually logged 61.5 hours of flight time. Ocean Winds Summer is the next scheduled NESDIS project, and it will be flown this summer in conjunction with other hurricane research and reconnaissance. The winter of 08 will see one of the P3s heading north again, to Alaska or perhaps to Norway, to continue this effort.