New GPS Technology Improves Weather Forecasting

A new GPS system on airplanes will help improve hurricane forecasting and weather models. The new technique, called Geophysical Research Letters, was developed at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Current systems use GPS satellite signals and GPS ground receivers that are unable to get measurements over the ocean or receivers attached to satellites that are pricey to launch. The new GPS system is able to obtain detailed information over the ocean, at different elevations, or in specific areas of interest.

“We’re looking at how moisture evolves so when we see tropical waves moving across the Atlantic, we can learn more about which one is going to turn into a hurricane,” says geophysicist Jennifer Haase of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “So being able to look at what happens in these events at the early stages will give us a lot longer lead time for hurricane warnings.”

The new system takes up about as much space as a refrigerator, but the team is working to reduce it to about the size of a shoebox so it can easily fit on commercial aircrafts and provide information from hundreds of flights daily.