One of the institutions main goals is to further study why storms intensify the way they do. Cone forecasts, the most popular measuring graphic used by the media, help predict where a storm might land when looking at the center line. These cones have gotten smaller and more precise by 16 percent at the five-day mark compared with 2003 during Hurricane Isabel, said John Cangialosi, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center.
But the study lags.
By 2020 researchers hope to have a day six- or seven-day forecast, up from todays four- or five- day look and to indicate intensity changes. Impact models get people to move. If we can come up with usable informationthis is what is going to happen to you well get a better reaction from people, Read said.
Most recently, these advancements in research tools have helped dispel a popular belief about the effect of global warming on the number and strength of storms, said David Nolan, a professor at the UMs Rosenstiel.
All other things equal, higher sea temperature means more hurricanes but in global warming all things are not equal. The atmosphere will warm with the surface. An unexpected result has been attained. Increasing sea temperature has had an opposite trend, Nolan said, explaining that increased wind shears in the warmer climate pull hurricanes apart.
Studies found that it is harder for hurricanes to form in a warmer world. This wind shear is more effective at suppressing storms in the warmer world, Nolan said. In the future world there will be fewer hurricanes but we believe the strongest storms will be stronger. Its hard to say whether society wins or loses from that equation.
Haus hopes that more information on such intensity and formation can come from continued research using the ASIST tank. Studies at UM on sea spray within the tank one of the real unknowns are ongoing as well as a study of interaction between wind and waves to coastal structures.