Up in the air: The future of forecasting

A special team is taking to the sky searching for new ways to spot another big Superstorm like Sandy.  

NASA scientist Jack Dibb took flight from Ellington field near Houston in hopes of finding the perfect storm high over the Gulf of Mexico.

 His team is flying a DC 8 in order to better study cloud formations.

Dibb says the clouds remain a mystery to scientists, but that they contain clues that can help understand changes in the earth's atmosphere.

"We understand sort of the fundamental physics of clouds and all the different types of clouds, but not well enough to be able to model them over and over again," Dibb said.

In the flying laboratory, NASA's most complex airborne science campaign of the year,  there are stations set up throughout the aircraft with 40 instruments gathering data.

Data gathered on Dibb's flight can help scientists better predict when and where the next storm will hit, but is not just thunderstorms that concern Dibb's team.


 This year was marked by numerous instances of extreme weather from the typhoon in the Philippines, to record tornados in the Midwest, to some of the largest wildfires on the record in California.

In addition to understanding weather patterns, scientists can also collect data that helps model climate change.

The information helped show that 2013 was the seventh warmest year on record.

"When you get into a discussion about climate change and whether or not it's real, those arguments are reliant on models. …We have an obligation to make the models better, all the time," Dibb said.

Dibbs flight is one of 35 that took off this year.