VORTEX2 NEWS: Researchers embark on unprecedented tornado study
An international team of researchers is embarking on what has been described as the most ambitious tornado study in history.
An array of instruments will be deployed across the US Great Plains, where violent twisters are more common than anywhere else on the planet.
It is hoped that the data gathered will improve tornado warnings and forecasts.
More than 100 scientists will be involved in the study, which will continue until the middle of June.
Continue reading the main story Animation of a tornado (Image: BBC) Animated guide: Tornadoes
Tornadoes rank among the most destructive weather events on Earth, said Dr David Dowell, one of the project s principal investigators and a scientist for the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
It is imperative that we learn more about how they develop and why some are so powerful.
The study, Vortex2, will use a range of enhanced mobile radars and other weather-sensing equipment in order to build up a comprehensive picture of the zones where tornadoes develop.
Researchers say that rapidly changing contrasts in wind and temperatures in an area just a few miles across can spawn a tornado in a matter of minutes.
But, they added, only a small percentage of supercell storms generate twisters, and standard observing networks and radars struggle to pick up the atmospheric conditions that lead to the formation of a tornado.
see more on BBC.com
By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News
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