What is Rotate 2012?
The most ambitious ever project probing the inner workings of tornadoes and how they cause damage will soon begin.
ROTATE (Radar Observations of Tornadoes and Thunderstorms Experiment) will hit the road from May 5th through June 20th , pursuing the most violent tornadoes.
ROTATE is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with important contribution from the Merage Foundation.
Scientists and crew from several universities and nations will take part.
The questions driving ROTATE are, according to lead scientist Karen Kosiba of the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) in Boulder, Colorado:
- How strong are winds in the lowest levels of tornadoes?
- How do tornadoes cause damage? What is the role of changing winds, and airborne debris?
- What causes some tornadoes to be huge and violent, while others are smaller and weaker?
"There are almost no direct measurements from inside tornadoes", says Kosiba, "ROTATE hopes to change that by collecting integrated radar and in situ wind data and photographs inside the strongest, most damaging, tornadoes."
DOW radars: ROTATE will employ an array of 3 of the most advanced Doppler On Wheels (DOW) mobile radars to probe inside tornadoes.
Tornado Pods: 6 instrumented "mobile mesonet" vehicles will drop a total of 22 "Tornado Pods" in front of tornadoes. Tornadoes will run over the Tornado Pods. The instruments may be destroyed, but data will be recorded in armored "black boxes" for later scientific analysis.
Photogrammetry: Tornado Pods, and several vehicles, will video and photograph the tornadoes from inside and out, allowing scientists to study debris impacts and damage the moment they happen.
"The goal is to peel back the mysteries inside tornadoes. How strong are the winds near the ground in tornadoes? 200 mph? 300 mph? Exactly how do they cause damage? We simply doní»t know." , says Joshua Wurman leader of the DOW program and president of CSWR.
"The ROTATE experiment will be completely nomadic, with no home base", says Wurman. "Our team will roam throughout the High Plains and Mid-West in search of violent tornadoes. "
Media Contact: Carrie Cunningham
Scientific Contacts: Karen Kosiba and Joshua Wurman