Timeline: How we got here …

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!
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About K Knapp

I am a meteorologist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC. My research interests include using satellite data to observe hurricanes, clouds, and other climate variables. *******Disclaimer******* The opinions expressed in these blogs are mine only. They do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of NOAA, Department of Commerce, or the US Government.

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