UNCA scientist invites public to participate in cyclone research this Thursday

Press release

From UNC Asheville News Services

Members of the public will learn how to participate in research on tropical cyclones via the internet, when Chris Hennon, UNC Asheville associate professor of atmospheric sciences, offers a public presentation from 4-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Karpen Hall, room 038. This event is free and open to the public.

Hennon is co-principal investigator for a new project to determine the strength of tropical cyclones that occurred over a 30-year period. These data will allow scientists to reconcile disagreements in the historical record. But because the number of images is so huge, the scientific community is turning to volunteer citizen-scientists to estimate the strength of the cyclones, by viewing the satellite images online at CycloneCenter.org. Thursday’s presentation will provide background on the project and instructions on how to participate.

“We have nearly 300,000 hurricane images from around the world – more than a full length motion picture has movie frames,” said Hennon. “By collaborating with the public, we hope to perform more than a million classifications in the coming months, something that would take a team of analysts more than a decade to accomplish.”

“We’re making progress,” continued Hennon. “We have already gotten participation by more than 2,000 people around the world, who have classified more than 87,000 images. We’re undertaking this project in collaboration with the National Climatic Data Center, headquartered here in Asheville, and I hope Thursday’s meeting will lead people in greater Asheville and on campus to get involved.”

This presentation will provide a brief history of citizen science – including its advantages and concerns – and how the principles of citizen science were applied to the complex study of tropical cyclone intensity. A demonstration of the CycloneCenter.org website will be given to illustrate these ideas.

For more information, visit CycloneCenter.org or call 828/232-5159.


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