Conference considers satellite's contributions to understanding global energy, water cycle

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July 24, 2002 -- The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite is approaching its fifth year of operation, surpassing its original life expectancy by two years and providing scientists valuable insight into such questions as why hurricanes sometimes suddenly intensify and the implications of tropical rainfall for the world's overall climate.

Researchers will examine important scientific advances of the satellite at the International Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Science Conference this week. Scientists there will discuss TRMM and its role in monitoring the global hydrological cycle as part of the overall NASA Earth Science program.

Also considered by meeting participants will be the upcoming Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission that will help scientists further understand the global water cycle. The TRMM satellite allows for more accurate environmental predictions of natural hazards such as floods, droughts and tropical cyclones.

TRMM data also are being used to improve the utilization of freshwater resources around the globe.

TRMM -- the only satellite that has mapped shifting rainfall patterns around the world -- is a joint U.S.-Japan mission to advance understanding of the global energy and water cycle by providing distributions of rainfall and latent heating over the global tropics. Initially designed as a three-year mission, the satellite is continuing to collect a variety of measurements used to answer a diverse array of key climate and weather questions related to Earth's hydrological cycle.

These questions range from microscopic processes that control the formation of snowflakes and raindrops inside clouds to the shifting global-scale patterns of rainfall. TRMM provides valuable insights into the processes that energize city-sized thunderstorm clouds and other violent storms, such as hurricanes and monsoon rains over Southeast Asia.

Launched in November 1997, the TRMM satellite received a new lease on life in August 2001, when it was boosted into a higher orbit to extend its lifetime. TRMM has helped reduce uncertainty in satellite estimates of rainfall in the tropics and has provided information on the climatology, seasonality and variation of tropical rainfall; the mesoscale structure of rain-producing systems; and the physics of precipitation.

TRMM has also contributed significant knowledge in areas related to hurricane analysis and forecasting, pollution, lightning, weather forecasting, climate modeling and hydrology. The upcoming GPM mission will use multiple spacecraft in several coordinated orbits to provide global coverage and improved sampling of daylight precipitation cycles and new insights into the global water cycle -- information vital for better life recently and for generations to come.

The International Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Science Conference, running July 22-26 at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki in Honolulu, is sponsored by NASA and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan.

NASA scientists and other researchers will present their TRMM findings throughout the week on topics such as the differences in lightning over islands and the oceans, the mapping of soil moisture in the southern United States, and the most comprehensive global database of tropical rain events ever assembled.

For details about the presentations see: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020722trmm.html

For more information about the spacecraft, visit the TRMM website at: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov


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