Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Better method for forecasting hurricane season

01.04.2015

A better method for predicting the number of hurricanes in an upcoming season has been developed by a team of University of Arizona atmospheric scientists.

The UA team's new model improves the accuracy of seasonal hurricane forecasts for the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico by 23 percent. The team's research paper was published online in the journal Weather and Forecasting on March 25.


The GOES-13 satellite captured this stunning visible image of Hurricane Irene at 8:32 a.m. EDT on Aug. 28, 2011, just 28 minutes before Irene's landfall in New York City. The image showed Irene's huge cloud cover blanketing New England, New York and over Toronto, Canada. Shadows in Irene's clouds indicate the bands of thunderstorms that surround now tropical storm Irene.

Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

"Our model is better at predicting the number of seasonal hurricanes in the Atlantic than the other existing models," said first author Kyle Davis, a master's student in the UA atmospheric sciences department. "On average, our model has 23 percent less error for predicting hurricanes occurring since 2001."

Hurricanes are storms with maximum wind speeds in excess of 73 mph and are among the most damaging natural disasters in the U.S. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The UA model can provide its forecast by the start of hurricane season, which allows people to prepare better for the upcoming season, Davis said. "Tens of millions of people are threatened by Atlantic hurricanes. It affects their properties, it affects their lives."

The team developed the new model by using data from the 1950 to 2013 hurricane seasons. They tested the new model by seeing if it could "hindcast" the number of hurricanes that occurred each season from 1900 to 1949.

"It performed really well in the period from 1949 to 1900," Davis said. "That's the most convincing test of our model."

Other investigators have estimated that damages from U.S. hurricanes from 1970 to 2002 cost $57 billion in 2015 dollars - more than earthquakes and human-caused disasters combined for the time period.

Better seasonal predictions can help cities and governments in emergency management planning, said co-author Xubin Zeng, who holds the Agnese N. Haury Chair in Environment and is a UA professor of atmospheric sciences.

The paper, "A new statistical model to predict seasonal North Atlantic hurricane activity," by Davis, Zeng and Elizabeth A. Ritchie, a UA atmospheric sciences professor, is scheduled for print publication in a future issue of the journal of Weather and Forecasting. Science Foundation Arizona, the National Science Foundation and NASA funded the research.

Good forecasts of hurricane seasons have been around only since the early 1980s, Zeng said. The historical average in the 20th century was six hurricanes per year.

Until about the late 1990s, the existing models did a good job of predicting how many hurricanes would occur each year. However, in the 21st century the number of hurricanes per season became more variable, with 15 occurring in 2005 but only two in 2013.

Zeng wondered why the computer models didn't work well anymore, and his new graduate student Davis, an actuary, wanted to study natural disasters because of their impact.

"Xubin steered me into hurricane forecasting," Davis said.

Zeng challenged Davis to develop a hurricane forecasting model that surpassed the existing ones.

"It was a tremendous effort - trying endless combinations of things, new creative ways of doing things," Davis said.

The other forecasting models relied heavily on the state of the El Niño climate cycle, a three-to-seven-year cycle that affects weather all over the globe.

One of the UA team's innovations was using the state of a longer-term climate cycle called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation to judge how much influence El Niño has in a particular year.

The AMO affects ocean temperatures, cycling from colder to warmer and back over a time scale of approximately 40-70 years. The AMO was in a warm phase from the late 1920s to the early 1960s and started cycling back toward warm in the late 1990s. Warmer sea surface temperatures generally generate more hurricanes.

Zeng suggested also including the force of the wind on the ocean - an innovation that, to the best of the team's knowledge, no other statistical model used. Strong winds reduce sea surface temperatures because they mix the ocean layers, thereby bringing cooler, deeper water to the surface.

After much trial and error, Davis met Zeng's challenge. The model Davis developed does a better job of forecasting the Atlantic hurricane season by incorporating the force of the wind on the ocean and the sea surface temperature over the Atlantic. The model includes the effect of El Niño only for years when the AMO is in the cool phase.

Compared with the other models, the UA model de-emphasized the role of El Niño when the AMO is in the warm phase, as it has been for the past 15 years.

Next the team plans to examine the forecasting models for the eastern Pacific hurricanes -- the ones that hit Baja California and the western coast of Mexico and Central America.

###

Researcher contact:

Kyle Davis
Davis7000@gmail.com
Languages spoken: English, French and Spanish

Xubin Zeng
xubin@atmo.arizona.edu
520-621-4782
Languages spoken: English, Mandarin

Related Web sites:

Xubin Zeng
http://atmo.arizona.edu/~zeng/zeng.html

Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center
http://www.cdhc.arizona.edu

Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact
20.11.2017 | Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

nachricht Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar
20.11.2017 | University of Edinburgh

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

UCLA engineers use deep learning to reconstruct holograms and improve optical microscopy

22.11.2017 | Medical Engineering

Watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals reveals clues to improving solar cells

22.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young

22.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>