For millions of people throughout the world, tropical rain systems are a life-sustaining resource. But these systems can turn violent and dangerous, spawning deadly storms and related natural disasters. Since its launch in 1997, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, or TRMM satellite, has become the worlds most widely used space-based resource for measuring Earths precipitation a key to understanding how weather affects and changes life here on our planet. Dr. Ramesh Kakar: "Understanding the earth's climate and how it responds to change relies on what we know about how atmospheric moisture, clouds, latent heating and large-scale atmospheric and oceanic circulation vary with changing climate conditions. The physical process that links these key climate elements is precipitation." With the first-ever space-borne rain radar and microwave radiometer combination, TRMM produces data used to verify and improve meteorological computer models so important to forecasters and climatologists across the globe. In fact, TRMM has become the reference standard by which rain is measured from space. Dr. Ramesh Kakar: "You may not have TRMM up there, but you may have some other satellite up there when it is raining. Now this satellite is providing calibrated information because its calibration is based upon TRMM." TRMM's data has not only been valuable in predicting the track and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, but has been used for forecasting the deadly floods and landslides they can cause. "Not only our own NOAA, but many other agencies around the world are using this data to do a better job of forecasting." Data from TRMM are used to fix the location and intensity of tropical storms over 600 times each year. To learn more about TRMM, follow its up-to-date tracking of a tropical storm, or perhaps monitor the threat of landslides and floods around the globe, go to click on www.nasa.gov/missions and click on "Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission."
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