The Destruction of Kirk
Tropical Storm Kirk would normally be a good candidate this time of year to intensify into a hurricane and threaten the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States. However, this morning’s Infrared satellite loop shows a storm on the verge of dying:
Here, the colors indicate cold clouds (convection) and the light gray colors indicate warm, low-level clouds. Notice the rotating feature of low clouds near the middle of the image emerging from the convection and moving toward the west-northwest – that’s the low-level center of Kirk.
This is what is called a “sheared” tropical cyclone. The upper level winds in this area are blowing from a different direction and at a much higher velocity than the winds near the surface. This situation has effectively chopped the storm up vertically. This is bad for tropical cyclones because the energy that they need to survive is released in the giant convective clouds (thunderstorms). If this energy is displaced away from the circulation center, the storm will weaken. Kirk is about to become an ordinary open wave.
Sheared tropical cyclones are not always easy to see on satellite imagery. Here are a couple of other pages you can look through to see other examples and learn how to classify them on Cyclone Center:
Joaquin: Classifying Shear Storms in Cyclone Center
Examples of typical scene types
– Chris Hennon is part of the Cyclone Center Science Team and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville
Welcome New Tropical Cyclone Classifiers!
Maybe you are here from a Zooniverse email, or maybe you found us some other way. Thanks for stopping by and helping us do science! Here’s some quick tips and advice to help you get comfortable classifying cyclones.
- Do the tutorial and use the field guide. Our project can be a little more overwhelming than some others because it is sometimes hard to know what to choose. Each question has “help” close by – just scroll down to find it!
- Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Early on you might be worried that you will choose the wrong picture and screw up the science. It’s fine! You are one of many people looking at an image and we’ll account for choices that might not be the best. It’s how crowd sourcing works.
- Ask questions in “Talk”. Use the forum to communicate with us and ask us questions about storms that you are classifying. We’ll get back to you usually very quickly but always within a day or two. We like to hear from our classifiers!
- Know that every classification you do is helping us. EVERY click is important! As you complete more images your responses will become even more valuable as you gain experience. We have a lot to do and we appreciate your contributions.
That will get you started and hopefully keep you going. Again, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or advice on particular images and patterns. Thanks for participating!
A New Era for Cyclone Center
It’s June 1 again, which means two things. First, it’s the beginning of what is called “meteorological summer” in the Northern Hemisphere. And second, it is the official beginning of the tropical cyclone season in the North Atlantic Ocean. So it’s one of the featured days on weather geeks calendars, and for hurricane fanatics, it’s time to prepare for what’s coming at us this season.
Today also marks a special day for the organization that hosts our Cyclone Center project – Zooniverse. They announced the launch of their 100th citizen science project, a space-based endeavor called “Galaxy Nurseries”. You may not know that Cyclone Center was Read More…
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?
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.
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 citizenscience.gov, a new hub for U.S. government sponsored citizen science projects. Cyclone Center is one of 300 project listed on the site.
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.
Most Uncertain Storm Images
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.
Joaquin: Classifying Shear Storms in Cyclone Center
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:
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.