Hurricanes are monitored on and from many different levels. Satellites can capture images of storms and also monitor ocean surface conditions. Other instruments are dropped from planes.
For instance, dropsondes are dropped into tropical storms and relay temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity as they parachute down through the atmosphere, so that scientists can measure these properties all the way from the elevation of the planes to the surface of the ocean. The dropsondes also measure wind speed based on the Doppler shift as they communicate with GPS satellites. Airborne eXpendable BathyThermographs (AXBTs) are also dropped from airplanes. Once they reach the water's surface, they lower thermistors down to measure temperature with depth. Other useful instruments are Aircraft Expendable Current Probes (AXCPs) and Airborne Expendable Conductivity Temperature Depth probes (AXCTDs) which measure ocean current velocity as well as temperature and salinity with depth.
Before a storm starts forming, weather agencies may place buoys that remain in the water and measure many of these properties continuously. The data gathered by these instruments is then fed into mathematical models to forecast the paths and intensity of hurricanes.
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