In July 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration investigated tropical cyclogenesis, hurricane structure, and intensity change in the eastern North Pacific and western Atlantic using its ER-2 high-altitude research aircraft. The campaign, called the Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes (TCSP) experiment, was conducted in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Hurricane Research Division's Intensity Forecasting Experiment. A number of in situ and remote sensor datasets were collected inside and above four tropical cyclones representing a broad spectrum of tropical cyclone intensity and development in diverse environments. While the TCSP datasets directly address several key hypotheses governing tropical cyclone formation, including the role of vertical wind shear, dynamics of convective bursts, and upscale growth of the initial vortex, two of the storms sampled were also unusually strong, early season storms. Highlights from the genesis missions are described in this article, along with some of the unexpected results from the campaign. Interesting observations include an extremely intense, highly electrified convective tower in the eyewall of Hurricane Emily and a broad region of mesoscale subsidence detected in the lower stratosphere over landfalling Tropical Storm Gert.

This content is only available as a PDF.


Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

NOAA/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama, Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

University Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC

University of Wisconsin—Madison-Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, Madison, Wisconsin

University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate, Washington, DC.