Epic weather events are often caused by unique atmospheric conditions that form towering plumes of ice and water vapor above severe thunderstorms. NSF-funded researchers are exploring how these mysterious plumes are created and their connection to the world's most damaging tornadoes. Learn more at The Discovery Files.
Credit: National Science Foundation
Hi! I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Epic weather events are often caused by unique atmospheric conditions that form towering plumes of ice and water vapor above severe thunderstorms, which suddenly blast into the stratosphere at astronomical speeds.
NSF-funded researchers at Stanford University are exploring the connection between these mysterious plumes and the world's most damaging tornadoes. They are also studying how the plumes are created.
The team used ultra-high resolution computer simulations to unravel the mystery of the icy plumes, visible in stunning, real-time images captured by weather satellites, frequently some 30 minutes or more before severe weather reaches the ground.
While hurricanes can be viewed from space, the tornadic activity that could be going on underneath is hidden from view.
This research may enable forecasters to issue earlier and more accurate tornado warnings without entirely relying on doppler radar systems, which could be knocked out by wind and hail.
Discover how the U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing research at nsf.gov.
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