Timeline: How we got here…
How an idea became a dataset, which led to a citizen science project.
The road to this point – having nearly 300,000 image being analyzed by hundreds of helpers – was a long one. This was not foreseen when it all began. The following is a detailed timeline that brought us here:
- 2005/12 – R. Murnane [RPI] (on behalf of J. Kossin [then at UW/CIMSS]) contacts NCDC with a request for satellite imagery of hurricanes. None existed. Customer service works with K. Knapp, a new dataset might be possible.
- 2006/01 – K. Knapp and J. Kossin iterate on dataset development, working on what would become the Hurricane Satellite (HURSAT) dataset. Storm positions and intensities provided by C. Schreck [then a student at U. Albany]
- 2006/11 – Participants at a global meeting of tropical cyclone researchers and forecasters (IWTC-VI) recommend creation of a central collection of tropical cyclone best track data.
- 2007/01 – J. Kossin’s paper on TC trends based on an objective analysis of HURSAT is accepted by the Geophysical Research Letters
- 2007/01 – K. Knapp’s paper describing the HURSAT dataset is accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing.
- 2007/07- K. Knapp spends summer attempting to update HURSAT using new track data internally (to support routine production) working with C. Schreck. Numerous issues involving how to obtain global data from individual sources are found.
- 2007/10 – A team at NCDC meets to discuss potentially creating a centralized, global collection of best track data at NCDC – what would become IBTrACS. (Initially it was called the NGTCS: NCDC Global Tropical Cyclone Stewardship)
- 2007/12 – The NCDC Team contacts RSMCs and other best track sources with regard to a new global collection. Positive response is received by all.
- 2008/09 – First public release of IBTrACS announced to public.
- Unknown – Somewhere during this time (2007-2010), the idea of using a team of scientists to perform historical analysis is floated. Many are included on the discussions.
- 2011/01 – P Hennon presents a poster at Annual AMS suggesting that crowd sourcing of imagery might lead to fast and accurate reanalysis of satellite imagery.
- 2011/03 – S. Lynn of Zooniverse visits NCDC to discuss potential crowd sourcing projects. While initial discussions focused on keying surface observations, there was much interest in the idea of people investigating hurricane imagery.
- 2011/09 – Selection of our project as a candidate for development by Zooniverse.
- 2012/09 – CycloneCenter.org goes public. More than 40,000 classifications in the first 10 days!
- 2014/10 – Cyclone Center paper published in the Bulletin of AMS. Coauthors include some citizen scientists.
- 2016/10 – Cyclone center paper published in the Monthly Weather Review. It shows initial results of storm type accuracy.
- 2017/03 – Here we are. Nearly 650,000 classifications later and still going strong!
Much like North Carolina-style barbecue , our project is slow-roasted and prepared for greatness. Read More…
A paper just released online in the journal Nature Geoscience (Mei and Xie 2016) shows that typhoons in the northwestern Pacific Ocean have intensified by 12-15% over the last 37 years, including a dramatic increase in the proportion of category 4 and 5 storms. Previous studies on trends in typhoon intensity for the same region have been contradictory because of differences in the operational tropical cyclone wind speed datasets used. How can Cyclone Center help reconcile these differences?
Cyclone Center was the 14th project hosted by Zooniverse when it was launched in September of 2012 and only the second that was based on weather or climate data. As we come up on our 4th birthday, we’d like share what we’ve learned so far and how your classifications over the next few months will lead to even more exciting findings.
The reason for Cyclone Center is simple. Tropical cyclones generally develop over remote areas of the ocean, where there are few if any direct observations of them. It is vitally important that we know how strong these storms are for societal (e.g. warnings, evacuations, protecting life and property) as well as scientific (e.g. are storms getting stronger with climate change?) reasons. Since storms are typically not directly measured, scientists use images of them to estimate the wind speed. Unfortunately, although the algorithm used around the world is basically the same, it is subjective and significant disagreement has crept into the historical record. Cyclone Center uses a special set of satellite images and classifications from you to determine a more consistent, and thus better, estimate of tropical cyclone winds.
Over the last four years, we have learned much and have had a number of notable accomplishments with your help: Read More…
It has been a quiet summer here in Asheville and on CycloneCenter.org. We tend to have fewer classifications in the summer, likely due to all those vacations that you’re taking.
As you come back from break, though, don’t forget to classify some storm images. We recently had a paper accepted for publication in a scientific journal (more on that in later posts) and we’re planning some big things for our fourth birthday. So check out the recent stats and go make some classifications!
Hello Classifiers and Friends! There have been a number of recent developments in Cyclone Center world in recent weeks. Have a read and then head over to the Cyclone Center website and help us keep the classifying momentum!
New Cyclone Center Journal Article Accepted
CC scientist Dr. Ken Knapp from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) in Asheville, NC is the lead author on a new paper just recently accepted into the journal Monthly Weather Review. Titled “Identification of tropical cyclone ‘storm types’ Read More…
Originally launched in September of 2012, Cyclone Center has gathered over a half million classifications from citizen scientists in nearly every country. We use your classifications to clarify inconsistencies in historical tropical cyclone wind records. Your contributions have resulted in the publication of two papers, numerous scientific presentations, and educational opportunities from K-12 through college.
There is still much to do; we need your help to finish classifying our 32-year data set of tropical cyclone images. Log on to cyclonecenter.org and join our expanding group of citizen scientists today.