CycloneCenter.org Reaches 100,000 Classifications

CycloneCenter.org Image

On November 16, just two months after its initial release, CycloneCenter.org reached a new milestone of 100,000 classifications. The website allows volunteers to examine color-enhanced images from 30 years of tropical cyclones taken from the archives of NCDC’s Hurricane Satellite Data system. Users are then guided through a series of simple questions to analyze a specific hurricane and estimate its maximum surface wind speed.

Why do scientists need the public’s help to analyze all of these images? The method for determining the strength of tropical cyclones has been applied differently around the world and has changed over time. And now, analysts know that the human eye best recognizes patterns in storm imagery. So, by enlisting the public to identify image patterns and build a reliable analysis of tropical cyclone data worldwide, this project allows scientists to resolve the inconsistency in the global historical record of tropical cyclone activity, especially in parts of the world where data sources like aircraft reconnaissance are not available.

At least 30 individual observers need to analyze each of nearly 300,000 hurricane images—more than a full-length motion picture has movie frames! CycloneCenter.org‘s 100,000th classification is just the beginning of the 9 million classifications needed to fully develop a new global tropical cyclone dataset with 3-hourly tropical cyclone intensity estimates, confidence intervals, and a wealth of other metadata that could not be realistically obtained in any other fashion. So, invite your friends, relatives, and colleagues to start classifying today! By collaborating with the public, scientists hope to perform more than a million classifications in just a few months, something that would take a team of analysts over a decade to accomplish.

CycloneCenter.org was developed in partnership with the Citizen Science Alliance, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, and the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Are you ready to give classifying tropical cyclones a try? Visit CycloneCenter.org and spread the word!