Florida, USA, 10 July 2006: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded the Florida State University (FSU) Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) a $6.2 million, five-year grant to support the development of a model that may more accurately predict the number of hurricanes in an upcoming season, according to COAPS Director Emeritus James O’Brien, the Robert O. Lawton Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography and state climatologist.
The new model will use the university’s supercomputer to amass atmospheric, ocean, land and climate data to predict the intensity of the hurricane season. Currently NOAA experts and the University of Colorado’s William Gray use sea surface temperatures and statistical methods to develop long-range hurricane forecasts, according to O’Brien. The accuracy of these predictions have been mixed.
Whether the new method will deliver information with precision will not be known until after researchers begin running data from previous seasons on the new model to see if the resulting prediction matches what actually happened. First, though, O’Brien must hire additional researchers and rebuild the COAPS model of the Atlantic Ocean.