Global Hawk: Eye in the Sky



For the last five years, NOAA has teamed up with NASA to fly NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to get an inside look at how hurricanes form and intensify over the Atlantic.

Global Hawk aircraft operate at altitudes of almost 20 kilometers (12 miles) above the ocean, and use multiple instruments to gather all sorts of weather and environmental data.  They can operate for longer durations and reach farther areas than are possible for manned aircraft based in the U.S.

Since 2012, NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission, HS3, in collaboration with NOAA and universities, has demonstrated the ability of the Global Hawk to fly over hurricanes to gather continuous weather data.

Now, NOAA is taking the next step with the Global Hawk, leading a new experiment and continuing its important collaboration with NASA. The three-year experiment, called Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology, or SHOUT, will test Global Hawk’s ability to improve day-to-day forecasts of severe storms forming over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, and in the Gulf of Mexico.  This data could be used to augment crucial weather observations from satellites.

With over half of the U.S. population living within fifty miles of the coast, better storm forecasts could help communities better prepare, protect billions in property, and save lives.