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Tropical Cyclone Data Resources

Tropical Cyclones Landing Page

Tropical cyclones are one of the biggest threats to life and property. They include a number of hazards that can cause significant impacts, such as storm surge, flooding, extreme winds, tornadoes, and lightning. Over the past 50 years, tropical cyclones have killed more than 779,000 people and caused $1.4 trillion in economic losses worldwide, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season had an unprecedented 30 named storms, marking the fifth year in a row with above-average hurricane activity.

Terminology for these massive storms differs depending on the ocean basin in which they form:

  • Hurricane: Storms forming in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the eastern and central North Pacific Ocean.
  • Typhoon: Storms forming in the western North Pacific Ocean.
  • Cyclone: Storms forming in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
  • Severe Tropical Cyclone: Storms forming in the western South Pacific and southeast Indian Ocean.
  • Tropical Cyclone: Storms forming in the southwest Indian Ocean. 

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, and generally is most active from mid-August through late-October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15th to November 30th.

Cyclones Data Pathfinder and Tropical Cyclone Toolkit

The Cyclones Data Pathfinder directs users to NASA datasets that can aid in pre-storm, near real-time, and post-storm assessment. The pathfinder also provides access to tools and applications for discovering, visualizing, and working with NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) data related to tropical cyclones.

The Tropical Cyclones Toolkit is designed as an entry point for accessing NASA Earth science data resources. This toolkit contains links to datasets, tutorials and how-tos, feature articles, and Data User Profiles, as well as other useful information related to tropical cyclonic storms and is a great place to start if you're new to working with NASA Earth observing data and resources.

Worldview and the Worldview Image of the Week Archive

The NASA Worldview data visualization application gives users the ability to browse and view natural events, including tropical cyclones, as they are seen by NASA’s constellation of satellites. Natural event metadata used in Worldview are curated and provided by NASA's Earth Observatory Natural Event Tracker (EONET) API. In addition, the Worldview Image of the Week collection showcases Worldview imagery and data, and is searchable by keyword (e.g., flooding, hurricane, cyclone), mission/instrument (e.g., Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer [MODIS], Terra, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership [Suomi NPP], etc.), and even by location. Worldview uses NASA's Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS) to rapidly retrieve imagery for interactive browsing.

Articles and Data User Profiles

Sea Level Change Campaign- Data User Profiles

Along with all the great data freely available through Earthdata Search and NASA's Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs), dozens of Earthdata articles provide a wealth of background about tropical storms, missions collecting data related to these storms, and how these data are being applied. Data User Profiles show how individual scientists and researchers are using EOSDIS data to explore the science behind these storms. Additional disaster-related articles are available on the Earthdata Disaster Articles page.

Recent Articles

Data in Action- The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season: A Record Breaker
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was record-setting, including the most named storms as well as the most expensive in terms of property damage. Additionally, it was the fifth consecutive season since 2016 with an above-average number of storms.

Data In Action- The NASA CYGNSS Mission: Tracking Winds from Space
The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) is a constellation of eight micro-satellites that launched on 15 December 2016. This NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Mission measures surface wind speeds in the inner core of tropical cyclones.

Data in Action- A Tale of Two Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico
A unique event was observed in the Gulf of Mexico at the end of August 2020: Two tropical cyclones occurring rapidly and close to one another. This led to a significant response in sea surface temperature, with waters approximately 2°C cooler compared to normal conditions across the entire eastern Gulf of Mexico.

NASA Helps the World Weather the 2020 Hurricane Season
The NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters program area provided resources, relationships, and scientific expertise during the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

Improving Hurricane Forecasts with Near Real-Time Imagery and Data
Scientists at NASA's Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT) use near real-time data to help the operational weather community with hurricane forecasting.

Other Relevant Articles

From TRMM to GPM: The Evolution of NASA Precipitation Data
NASA’s global precipitation data and data processing systems have come a long way from the launch of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) in 1997 to the ongoing Global Precipitation Mission (GPM).

The researcher, the reef, and a storm
Can marine reserves protect Earth’s underwater nurseries?

Time and tide
Scientists pit nature against nature to protect New Yorkers from storms.

Relevant Data User Profiles

Explore more Data User Profiles


NASA Earthdata Webinars span the Earth science disciplines and are designed to help users learn about NASA Earth observing data, services, and tools and show users how to work with these resources.

Data Recipes and Tutorials

Data recipes are step-by-step instructions for using and working with Earth science data, information, tools, and services. Tutorials cover many different data products across the Earth science disciplines and different data discovery and data access tools, including programming languages and related software.

Additional Resources

NASA Disasters Mapping Portal: Hurricanes and Cyclones provides links to all the hurricanes and cyclones NASA's Disasters program has responded to and features Event Response Story Maps, Event Product Galleries, and Flood Map examples. The NASA Earth Science Applied Sciences Disasters program area promotes the use of Earth observations to reduce risk, improve response, hasten recovery, and promote resilience from natural and technological disasters on local and global scales.

Published June 1, 2021

Page Last Updated: Nov 15, 2021 at 4:56 PM EST