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FASTEX in a hurry


The Fronts and Atlantic Storm Track (FASTEX) project addresses several open scientific questions relating to atmospheric cyclone depressions forming in the North-Atlantic ocean and reaching the west coast of Europe.

They bring there most of the water and soften the seasonal contrasts, but they are also the cause of numerous costly damages when they take the shape of storms.

The role of the clouds associated with these cyclones in the radiative and water budget of the climate system is one such questions. Others are the influence of various processes such as ocean-atmosphere interaction on their evolution, the predictability of the development of such cyclones and, more generally, the proper theoretical framework that explains these weather systems.

These pages are about the first years of the FASTEX project. They concentrate on the key event of this phase, the occurrence of a major field experiment in January and February 1997.

The observing strategy of FASTEX, .gif animation

This .gif animation shows what the main experimental objective of FASTEX was. A cyclone forms and develops while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Various facilities (radiosounding stations, ships, aircraft) are activated along its track in order to collect data all along its life-cycle. The whole sequence lasts from 1.5 to 3 days.

How is the sea in the mid-Atlantic during storms: see our other animation, 1' on Le Suroît's quarterdeck.

The specific objectives of the field operations were to gather data on the cloud systems by combining dropsondes and airborne Doppler radars and, above all, to perform these flights on a system previously sampled at earlier stages. In other words, FASTEX as a field programme aimed at collecting data on cyclone full life-cycles. Both these goals have been reached. The data obtained in this way has been organized into a Data Base and scientists from anywhere can access it right here.

The detailed organization of the core of the cyclones is accessible. The project has also produced a new climatology of cyclones, the first real time implementation of adaptive observation and its assessment as a mean of making certain the forecast of damageable cyclogenesis. The study of the objectives relating to clouds is continued under the project FASTEX Cloud System Study.

Curious about storms: see what it is like from a ship in another animation.

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