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Improving Hurricane Predictions Is CCPO Seminar Topic

The kickoff session of the Fall Seminar Series of Old Dominion University's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO) promises to provide some answers for those who have wondered why it is so difficult for climate scientists to predict the intensity of hurricanes.

Isaac Ginis, a geophysicist with the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, will speak at the seminar at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in Room 3200 of Innovation Research Park Building 1. The seminar is free and open to the public, as is a reception with refreshments that starts in the CCPO lounge at 3 p.m.

Hurricane Irene demonstrated improvements in hurricane forecasts that have been made over the past couple of decades. But the improvements tend to be in the prediction of hurricane path, rather than intensity, which was true for Irene.

Whereas hurricane tracks are determined mostly by their large-scale atmospheric environment, storm intensity is influenced to a greater degree by smaller-scale features in both the atmosphere and ocean. The conditions that control intensity are poorly understood; one of the most critical aspects affecting this variability is air-sea interactions.

Ginis will discuss progress in developing a physically based, coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean framework for the next generation of hurricane research and operational models.

He will also present and discuss a new website, "Hurricanes: Science and Society" (www.hurricanescience.org), that schools, the general public and the media can use to better understand hurricanes and how to prepare for them.

Ginis is currently working to develop coupled models to improve hurricane predictive capabilities of the National Weather Service and the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. He teaches graduate courses on numerical methods for atmospheric and oceanic modeling.

CCPO is celebrating its 20th anniversary during the 2011-12 school year.

This article was posted on: September 6, 2011

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