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…
I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Birthday on this second anniversary of CycloneCenter.org. 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.
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…
The official start of the hurricane season in the North Atlantic was June 1 and most experts are predicting a relatively quiet season, pointing to relatively cool water temperatures in place and a developing El Nino in the Pacific. El Nino can be thought of as a substantial warming of ocean water in the central and/or eastern Pacific which in turn alters global weather patterns. Atlantic hurricanes typically encounter more hostile atmospheric conditions during El Nino events, limiting their potential to develop and strengthen. Most of the inactive seasons in the Atlantic over the past 20 years have occurred during El Nino events. Read More…
In short – the western Pacific.
The Atlantic Basin was predicted by many to have an active season. But the season ended November 30th, and it was a very quiet one. There were 13 named storms in the Atlantic, of which two developed into hurricanes. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index is used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to measure the severity of hurricane seasons. It considers the intensity and the lifespan of storms. The 2013 Atlantic season was well below normal; the ACE index came in at 33, about 31% of the 1981-2010 average of 104.
On the other side of the planet, in comparison to the Atlantic Basin, the western Pacific appears to be the ‘hot spot’ this season for strong tropical cyclones. The western Pacific has seen 31 storms, 13 being typhoons (in this region, hurricanes are called typhoons). This makes the western Pacific season slightly above the 1981-2010 average of 26 named storms. The ACE index for the Western Pacific, however, stands at 268.3 – about 88% of the 1981-2010 average of 302.
Typhoons such as Lekima, Usagi, Fransico and of course Super Typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda) will be recorded in the 2013 history book. A super typhoon is a typhoon whose winds exceed 150 mph, equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
What has contributed to the strong activity seen in the western Pacific this season? A combination of the right ingredients is the answer. A tropical cyclone needs favorable conditions, such as moisture, warm sea surface temperatures, and lack of wind shear in the upper atmosphere in order to aid development. Based on the activity in the western Pacific, it is likely that those conditions were present much of the season.
The 2013 tropical cyclone season was bittersweet for many; those in the Atlantic were glad for a quiet season while many in the western Pacific were forced to make preparations all season. Our prayers are with those affected by these forces of nature.
Visit Cyclone Center to classify many storms including those past storms that formed in the western Pacific, such as: Supertyphoon Dale (1996), Super Typhoon Herb (1996), Typhoon Faxai (2001), Super Typhoon Mike(1990) and more.
– Davanna G. Saunders is an undergraduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She recently joined the Cyclone Center team as a classifier and contributor to our social media.
We wanted to post a cyclone-related, fun, festive blog entry for the 2013 Zooniverse Advent Calendar. However, in light of the recent typhoon in the Philippines we thought that perhaps it would be better to show you all the ways that you can help in the aftermath of this disaster. You can of course classify on Cyclone Center to help researchers understand the science behind these phenomena, but we thought it would be good to point you at more direct ways to help those people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Principally, you can donate directly to several aid agencies and their umbrella organisations. These include the UK Disasters Emergency Committee’s Haiyan appeal, USAID, Oxfam, and the Red Cross. To get even more involved there are things such as the Association of digital volunteering efforts for disaster response, the GeekList Typhoon Haiyan hackathon and activities on Open Street Map.
Today we urge our Cyclone Center users to pause and send positive thoughts to our friends in the Philippines.
Evacuations are underway as Super Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) makes its way directly towards the country. Intensifying without restraint since Sunday, Haiyan is now a Super typhoon, which is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Haiyan currently has winds near 170 kt (195 mph).
Moving west northwestward, Haiyan is expected to make landfall in the Philippines early Friday morning. Because of the very warm water temperatures along her path, Haiyan is expected to maintain her status as a super typhoon through landfall.
With this super typhoon comes potentially severe damage. Haiyan is likely to bring heavy rainfall, severe flooding, damaging strong winds, and mudslides into very heavily populated areas of the Philippines. The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center are encouraging evacuations across the country, especially in the central Philippines, in preparation for the biggest storm of the 2013 season thus far. She is the fifth super typhoon to form this year in the western Pacific.
– Kelly Dobeck is an undergraduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She recently joined the Cyclone Center team as a classifier and contributor to our social media.
One of the goals of the Cyclone Center project is provide a more definitive answer on how tropical cyclones (TCs) have been responding to the dramatic changes that our climate is undergoing. It is difficult for meteorologists to determine how strong tropical cyclones are getting because we rarely observe them directly, relying primarily on satellite data to give us a decent estimate of the wind speeds. But as you can imagine, it is very hard to determine the maximum winds in a hurricane when you are in the hurricane itself, let alone flying more than 22,000 miles above it! Our record of tropical cyclones is by no means nailed down.
So people have some differences of opinion on what has been going on in recent years. Perhaps even more interesting is what will happen in the future. There are theories that predict the characteristics of tropical cyclones in future years as the rate of ocean and atmospheric warming accelerate. Most scientists believe cyclones will be more intense as global oceans warm. There are reasonable disagreements on the number of tropical cyclones forming, since the formation of TCs are sensitive to other things like winds and moisture in the atmosphere.
In the Atlantic Ocean, which of course is of the most interest to the United States and Caribbean nations, the traditional view is that storms will be stronger but less frequent. A recent study by Kerry Emanuel, a well-respected tropical meteorologist, suggests that we may not be so lucky. Using the latest high-resolution computer models that simulate TC-like circulations, his results show a 40% increase globally in the strongest TCs (Category-3 or higher) and an increase in numbers of TCs in several basins including the North Atlantic. One has to always be cautious of computer model projections, and it remains to be seen if further evidence comes out to support Emanuel’s conclusions. But we can accept without doubt that the threat of TCs will remain.
The work of citizen scientists like you on Cyclone Center is already producing results that will help rectify differences in the historical TC record. As for the future, we’ll just have to wait a little bit on that.
– Chris Hennon is part of the Cyclone Center Science Team and Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville