Ionospheric Variations During a Hurricane: Insights from COSMIC-2
Hurricanes have far-reaching impacts and are estimated to cause up to $54 billion in damages3 this year in the United States alone. Not only do hurricanes significantly impact populations and cause temperature and pressure changes, but they also cause measurable changes in the ionosphere, particularly in the upper atmosphere. Specifically, changes in local electron density can occur. Hurricane Grace, which made landfall in 2021 near the Yucatan Peninsula1, and its day of maximum intensity served as the central theme of investigation. Data from the COSMIC-2 satellite constellation was selected and time series of electron density as a function of altitude and date were created for the days leading up to, during, and after Hurricane Grace. These time series show that maximum electron density typically occurs between 260 and 320 km. On the peak day of the Hurricane , the maximum electron density increased in comparison to previous days, and the higher electron density was prevalent in both slightly lower and higher altitudes than on previous days. Previous research posited that these increases were caused by gravity waves2. These observations align with the fact that gravity waves have a direct connection to wind speeds, which were enhanced during the hurricane.
References: 1. Reinhart, B., Reinhart, A., Berg, R. (2021). National Hurricane Center Tropical Cyclone Report, Hurricane Grace https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/AL072021_Grace.pdf
- Williams, J. , Tournay, R., Tseng, H. R., Emmons, D., Nava, O. (2021). Impact of Hurricane Michael (2018) on local vertical total electron content https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jastp.2021.105647
- Congressional Budget Office (2019) Expected Costs of Damage From Hurricane Winds and Storm-Related Flooding https://www.cbo.gov/publication/55019
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