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…
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.
One of the great things about crowd sourcing is that we have the luxury of using numerous classifications to determine an answer for one image. The responses of 15 citizen scientists is much more powerful than a response from one person, even if that person is an expert.
We have gone through every single storm image on Cyclone Center that has been classified by at least 10 citizen scientists. All classifications were used to determine the variance of the image – or, how similar one classification was to the others. Ambiguous cloud patterns will have a higher variance than one with a clear eye, for example.
Tropical Storm Joaquin is moving slowly over warm North Atlantic waters this evening. If atmospheric conditions were ideal, Joaquin would be well on his way to becoming a hurricane. Instead, he is struggling to develop because the atmospheric winds are creating strong “shear” which displaces the energy source of the storm away from the center. Watch the animated image below:
Today (June 1) marks the beginning of the hurricane “season” in the North Atlantic ocean, in which the ocean and atmospheric conditions are generally the most favorable for creating tropical storms. There is always a little bit of curiosity as to how active the year will be and many groups now produce seasonal forecasts of activity (something we have discussed here in the past). Most forecasts for this year predict a less active season because of the potential development of El Nino.
Cyclone Center, now in its third year, is a website that allows citizen scientists like you to help meteorologists like us determine the maximum wind speed (or “intensity”) of historical global tropical cyclones. We need your help to complete this ambitious project.
Why am I needed?
First, there are way too many images (nearly 300,000!) for us to do it alone! Second, your responses as a group are almost always just as good as an expert! And third, there are disagreements in the historical record that must be addressed. For instance, there are studies in published literature that suggest that typhoon activity is both increasing and decreasing in the western Pacific Ocean. Clearly both cannot be true!
Why are there questions about tropical cyclone data?
Our first major publication appeared online the week of September 8 (link at the end of the post) in the #1 journal for meteorology papers, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. We have been working with nearly 300,000 classifications from over 5,000 of our valuable citizen scientists over the past year (we now have over 365,000 classifications from 7,400 registered users). Our primary goal was to assess how well Cyclone Center is working and whether it can lead to even more valuable results down the road. The answer is Read More…
Cyclone Center is tracking two storms as we classify this afternoon.
It has been quite a remarkable week in the eastern and central Pacific that has culminated in two hurricanes taking aim at the Hawaiian Islands today. Hurricane Iselle has shown herself to be quite resilient as she has maintained her hurricane strength despite moving over cooler ocean waters. Hurricane warnings are out for the big island as residents prepare for a significant event. Meanwhile, Hurricane Julio is following close behind, continuing to intensify despite his movement over cooler waters. The graphic below from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center shows the likelihood of significant winds over the next few days in the islands: Read More…