General Atomics Delivers Infrasound Sensors for Early Tornado Detection

SAN DIEGO, CA, 22 AUGUST 2016 - General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today it has delivered twenty Infrasound Collection Element (ICE) sensors to the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) for research of early tornado detection and real-time tornado tracking.

“We are extremely proud to have our ICE sensors play a key role in tornado detection,” says Hank Rinehart, business area director for Surveillance and Sensor Systems at GA-EMS. “Our twenty years of extensive acoustic and infrasound sensor research and maturation have resulted in a cost-effective, easy to deploy solution that will facilitate and improve the future of severe weather detection and monitoring.”

ICE is a small, rugged sensor that captures infrasound data for analysis. Infrasound monitoring provides valuable radar-independent data to refine storm path predictions and enables increased lead times for severe weather warnings. Presently, direct detection of tornadoes relies on visual sightings, which has limited success at night, or the use of dual polarization Doppler radar, which is both range and line-of-sight limited.

“Working with UAH to provide reliable technologies and valuable research will play an important role in forewarning the community and supporting public safety in North Alabama going forward,” said Nick Bucci, vice president, Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. “The use of infrasound in tornado detection has the potential to identify spectral emissions, or signatures, indicating the existence or progression of a tornado on the ground. Such information enables higher detection confidence and increased lead times for severe weather warnings in threat areas that current solutions are unable to match.”

The UAH contract is a direct result of the successful infrasound data collection and analysis conducted during the deadly tornado outbreak that took place across multiple southern states on 27 April, 2011. ICE sensors deployed across North Alabama accurately captured signals emitted by multiple large tornados up to 100km away. Further analysis and collaboration with UAH confirmed that the collected ICE sensor data correlated with the documented tornado path.

ICE is ideal for field deployments and extreme operating environments, and can be used for a broad range of applications, including monitoring nuclear and other explosions, determining rocket launch origins, detecting hurricanes, and monitoring avalanches.

About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) Group is a global leader in the research, design, and manufacture of first-of-a-kind electromagnetic and electric power generation systems. GA-EMS’ history of research, development and technology innovation has led to an expanding portfolio of specialized products and integrated system solutions supporting aviation, missile defense, power and energy, and processing and monitoring applications for critical defense, industrial, and commercial customers worldwide.

For further information contact:

Meghan Ehlke
Strategic Communications Manager
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems
(858) 964-7058

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