How NASA tech helps predict snow for the winter Olympics 2018


Snowfall is crucial for life on Earth-water cycle, and the fresh snow is a special bonus for the Olympic athletes whose career depends on the slipping, sliding, or jumping over it.

The gold medal hopeful with forecasts every 6 hours, and the improvement of snow-prediction models for mountainous terrain, NASA has together with 20 organisations from about a dozen countries to collect data about the weather during the winter games 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to a recent statement from the space agency.

The World wide Fund for nature estimates that one in eight people in the world live in the mountains, and according to NASA, one in six relies on the water was due to the seasonal fall of snow collecting in the mountains. Winter wonderlands are vital, but for many people, during the next few weeks, fresh powder will feel even more important. Most countries have their eyes on the impressive snow-capped mountains around Pyeongchang to watch their most talented skiers and snowboarders go for gold. [Photos: South Korea to Top]

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  • 2018 Paralympic Games

So to compare the weather experienced in the mountains, with satellite and radar predictions, an international team of researchers, including NASA scientists, will predict event again by the cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization World Weather Research Programme. NASA will participate in this project, called ICE-POP (International collaborations, and Experiments for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic winter games) until the end of the 2018 Paralympic Games, on March 18.

According to NASA, the land-based radar instruments are usually placed in easily accessible areas, even on land. But not all areas of the Earth are within easy reach; rugged, uneven terrain, such as that in the northeast of South Korea presents a challenge, and for NASA, it is a chance to improve prediction models. Vertical drops on the hills are common, and this can lead to rapid wind changes. Wind speed is especially important for athletes, such as mogul-skiers, zooming in on a bumpy piste at high speeds.

The flow of air, the altitude and the temperature can also affect the size of the snowflakes, that influences outside the sporting conditions.

Satellites such as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, are of interest for water-cycle forecasting. However, it is sometimes difficult for the satellite to assess the size and shape of the snowflakes, because the changes are caused by air currents that rapidly change direction — a phenomenon that develops closer to the creviced surface. The rates of the mountain snow are also challenging to predict from the area, because wind conditions can change very quickly, and when that happens, the snowflakes do not fall at the same speed. Plus, the flat structure of snowflakes makes their movements are challenging to observe from space, NASA officials said.

The researchers hope to get a few good snowstorms, according to the statement. They will compare the observations of NASA’s Dual-frequency, Dual-polarized, Doppler Radar (D3R) system with that of the GPM Core Observatory satellite. By comparing the models with the observations, researchers hope to have a better prediction model of the snowfall on the mountains and the lake to understand clearly how it falls.

NASA will be the observations and provide snow forecasts of 16 points in the neighborhood of the Olympic events. The NASA team will work together with AMERICAN colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Colorado State University. The data shall be communicated to the Olympic officials, so that the competition logistics, the weather in mind.

The GPM Core Observatory satellite is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and is designed to detect falling snow and the valuation rates of precipitation from space. Every 30 minutes, GPM provides global maps of precipitation. To do this, the satellite works along with 12 other international and AMERICAN spacecraft.

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