The European Space Agency is pulling together data from three satellites too try to piece together how surface winds evolve under tropical storm clouds in the Pacific Ocean, with a view to creating more accurate predictions of extreme weather at sea.
“In addition to improving marine forecasting, the combination of data from sensors on different satellites will definitively enhance our understanding of ocean–atmosphere interactions in intense storms," said Nicolas Reul from the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, known as Ifremer.
The observations are vital this year as a particularly strong El Niño builds up, with much higher surface ocean temperatures than normal.
The surplus heat is helping to breed tropical cyclones. There have been eight major storms so far, making the season the fifth most active in the Eastern Tropical Pacific since 1971. Measurements reveal coldof sea-surface temperatures in the wake three recent hurricanes, showing how the winds have in stirring the upper ocean and bringing cooler deep waters to the surface.