24 Aug '11, 11pm

'Fuel' for Hurricane Irene: warm Atlantic Ocean waters. Something else our Aqua satellite keeps an eye on.

'Fuel' for Hurricane Irene: warm Atlantic Ocean waters. Something else our Aqua satellite keeps an eye on.

As Hurricane Irene rumbles through the Atlantic Ocean, it needs fuel to sustain itself. Warm water is the main fuel, and there is plenty of it right now, as there usually is this time of year. The map above shows sea surface temperatures (SST) in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea on August 23, 2011. The measurements come from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on both the Terra and Aqua satellites. The satellites measure the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean. Waters typically need to be above 27.8 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) to properly fuel tropical storms with warm, moist air. Red, orange, and yellow colors depict waters above the 27.8 degree mark. The warmer the water, the more intense the storm can grow, if upper l...

Full article: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=51853

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