Newswise — Chris Ruf, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan, and colleagues have been monitoring Irma's intensification in the CYGNSS Science Operations Center on U-M's campus. NASA's CYGNSS, or Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, is a constellation of eight microsatellite observatories that track storm intensification in unprecedented detail. Today, this process is not well understood and storms are expected to increase in intensity due to climate change. CYGNSS tracks wind speed data at tropical hurricane latitudes across the globe, taking 32 measurements per second. It launched in December and Irma is the second storm it has probed. Read more about CYGNSS.

"The CYGNSS Science Operations Center has been very busy all week determining when the satellites will be over Irma and constructing commands that were uplinked to the satellites to activate high resolution science modes during those overpasses," Ruf said. "We will be monitoring the successful activation of those commands over the rest of the week, up to landfall and beyond. This is the same procedure that was followed with Harvey leading up to and after its landfall in Texas. The measurements will be used to improve our understanding of the underlying physical processes that drive the storms. This will ultimately lead to improvements in our ability to forecast them."

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