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New Paper Highlights Need for Cyclone Center Classifications

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?

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Your Classifications Are Making A Difference

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.


Typhoon Nabi (2005) was a powerful storm that our classifiers successfully completed analyzing.

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…

Cyclone Center News and Updates

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…

Cyclone Center Part of New Hub of Citizen Science

Today, the White House announced the launch of, a new hub for U.S. government sponsored citizen science projects.  Cyclone Center is one of 300 project listed on the site.

citizenscience_govOriginally 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 and join our expanding group of citizen scientists today.

El Nino on the Rise? The Fate of the Hurricane Season Awaits

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.

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Refocusing CycloneCenter on the year 2005

We are refocusing our efforts on a smaller number of targeted storms. Our current target is to complete all images for the 2005 tropical cyclone season.  Read More…

400,000 Classification Milestone! reached a milestone February 15th: its 400,000th classification! Provided by Read More…

Cyclone Center Citizen Scientists Contribute To Article In Top Meteorology Journal

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…

Happy 2nd Birthday

HappyBirthdayI just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Birthday on this second anniversary of Two years ago today, citizen scientist “parrish” provided the first classification. Here’s what we get from that first one:

1,parrish,Td0721(1981),1981-07-22 09:00:00 UTC,2012-09-26 18:57:45 UTC,1981202N24123.TD0721.1981.07.22.0900.37.GMS-1.034.hursat-b1.v05.png,,,,,,,,,band-2.0,,,GMS-1,same,curved

To most, it is a bunch of comma-separated gobbledygook However, to our science team, it is a treasure trove of information — especially when you consider we have 350,000+ lines of this data.

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Spawns of El Nino? Hurricanes Iselle and Julio Aim For Hawaii

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…