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COCONet, a GPS network in the Caribbean, will aid in hurricane forecasts

Researchers: UNAVCO and UCAR
Written by Celia Schiffman
1 September 2012

Future Weather Patterns

As the climate warms, researchers would like to know if hurricanes will increase in intensity and frequency. To explore this theory, more information is needed on the connection between ocean temperatures and the amount of water vapor in the lower atmosphere.

The Caribbean Region

The Caribbean has a 5-10% of being hit by a hurricane each year (Pielke et al., 2003), and therefore is a good location for exploring how water vapor amounts will change with temperature. COCONet is a network of 50 new continuously operating GPS stations (CGPS), complemented with meteorological sensors and near real-time communications, distributed throughout the Caribbean region. In addition, UNAVCO will be retrofitting approximately 12 existing CGPS stations that are currently operated by COCONet cooperators in the region, with updated GNSS(GPS) receivers, meteorological sensors, and communications systems. UNAVCO will archive GPS and meteorological data from all of these stations, and additional CGPS data from cooperator networks, to allow scientists to study both the atmosphere and the tectonics of the region.

GPS signals broadcast from the NAVSTAR GPS satellites to a GPS receiver on the ground have to pass through the atmosphere to reach the surface of the earth. The amount of water vapor in the troposphere, the lowest part of the atmosphere where weather occurs, will slow down the signal by a known amount, allowing the calculation of the amount of water vapor that existed when the signal passed through.


COCONet will measure the amount of tropospheric water vapor in near real-time, which will allow researchers to see how water vapor affects where hurricanes are born, which directions they travel, and their intensification.

Related Links


Roger A. Pielke Jr.; Jose Rubiera; Christopher Landsea; Mario L. Fernandez; and Roberta Klein, Hurricane Vulnerability in Latin America and The Caribbean: Normalized Damage and Loss Potentials, 2003, Natural Hazards Review, pp 101-114.


COCONet, Caribbean, water vapor, troposphere

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Last modified: 2019-12-24  02:24:28  America/Denver