- Research Topics
COAPS news items are routinely featured on our center's website, posted to our Facebook page, and included in our quarterly COAPS newsletter (see links to previous newsletters below). To receive future newsletters by email, please join our mailing list.
- COAPS Fall (October) 2016 Newsletter
- COAPS Spring (April) 2016 Newsletter
- COAPS Winter (January) 2016 Newsletter
- COAPS Winter 2011/2012 Newsletter
- COAPS Fall 2011 Newsletter
- COAPS Summer 2011 Newsletter
- COAPS Spring 2011 Newsletter
- COAPS Winter 2011 Newsletter
New Publication: Ocean Winds and Turbulent Air-Sea Fluxes Inferred from Remote Sensing
December 2010: COAPS scientist Mark Bourassa is the lead author of a recent paper in Oceanography titled "Ocean winds and turbulent air-sea fluxes inferred from remote sensing." This article discusses recent advances in satellite measurements of ocean-atmospheric momentum and energy transfers and how these advances improve our understanding of storms and the coupled ocean/atmosphere system.
November Climate Summary for Florida
December 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its November Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were near normal in November and rainfall totals were near normal in most areas.
New Institute to Focus on Local Effects of Global Climate Change, Variability
November 2010: When people hear about climate change, it's usually about the average global temperature increase over the next 50 to 100 years. But farmers, policy makers and others need to know how global changes will affect local and regional areas in the short term. Enter the new Florida Climate Institute. A joint venture between The Florida State University and the University of Florida, the FCI seeks to develop reliable scientific information and new technologies aimed at helping Floridians achieve economic benefits and environmental sustainability in a variable and changing climate. The institute will provide information about changes occurring over the next few months through the next 30 years. Distinguished Professor James W. Jones of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at UF is the director of the FCI. Eric Chassignet, professor and director of the FSU Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), is co-director. For more information, see the links below.
October Climate Summary for Florida
November 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its October Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were near normal in October, while rainfall totals were well below normal except in the Keys.
New Publication: Forced Tidal Response in the Gulf of Mexico
November 2010: COAPS researchers Flavien Gouillon, Steve Morey, Dmitry Dukhovskoy, and James O'Brien have co-authored a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research titled "Forced tidal response in the Gulf of Mexico." This study investigates the characteristics of tides in the Gulf of Mexico and the response to forcing by local tidal potential and tides propagating as waves through straits connecting this semienclosed sea to the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
New Website: Hurricanes: Science and Society
November 2010: Mark Powell, a NOAA hurricane scientist stationed at COAPS, has contributed scientific content for a new website called Hurricanes: Science and Society. The website was developed at the University of Rhode Island to provide foundational science for understanding complex scientific content, inform visitors about current scientific and technological advances, and help visitors make good decisions prior to and during a hurricane emergency. Dr. Powell also participated in a panel discussion on landfalling hurricanes that coincided with the launch of the website.
September Climate Summary for Florida
October 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its September Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were above normal while rainfall totals varied around the state.
Thalassic Society Student Symposium - November 12, 2010
October 2010: The Thalassic Society's 5th Annual Student Symposium will be held on Friday, November 12, from 8:30am - 7:00pm in the Student Services Building. The Thalassic Society is the graduate student organization of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science. The Symposium will feature oral presentations and a poster reception showcasing graduate student research.
COAPS Departmental Accounting Associate Patty Boutelle Receives Sustained Service Award
October 2010: Patty Boutelle, the Departmental Accounting Associate at COAPS, will receive FSU's Sustained Service Award in honor of her 20 years of service to the University. Patty started at COAPS in 1987 as a student office assistant while working on a B.A. in English. She became a salaried Fiscal Assistant in January 1990 while finishing her M.B.A. In 2008, Patty received FSU's Exemplary Service Award for Budget & Financial Services. The Employee Awards Ceremony will be held on November 1 at 3:30pm in the FSU Alumni Center Grand Ballroom.
New Publication: A Comparison of Nine Monthly Air-Sea Flux Products
October 2010: COAPS researchers Shawn Smith, Paul Hughes, and Mark Bourassa have co-authored a paper in the International Journal of Climatology titled "A comparison of nine monthly air-sea flux products." This paper demonstrates significant differences in freely available ocean forcing products, and shows how product choice can alter research findings.
Southeast Preparing for Drought in Face of Strong La Niña - September 27, 2010
September 2010: Florida needs more rain to fend off an expected drought with the return of a strong La Niña, according to scientists at the Florida Climate Center.
August Climate Summary for Florida
September 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its August Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were above normal in August, while rainfall totals varied around the state.
Oceanography Alumnus Hired as Deputy Director of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
September 2010: Dr. Alan Leonardi, a COAPS alumnus who received his MS and PhD in oceanography under the guidance of COAPS professor emeritus James O'Brien, is now serving as the Deputy Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (NOAA AOML) in Miami. Leonardi made the move to AOML from Silver Spring, Maryland, where he was Deputy Director of the NOAA Research Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation and Program Manager for NOAA's Environmental Modeling Program. During his academic tenure, he investigated the annual and interannual variability in the North Pacific Ocean and the oceanic circulation surrounding the Hawaiian Islands as a NASA Mission to Planet Earth research fellow and a Naval Research Laboratory graduate research fellow.
AOML Announcement (p.1)
Meteorology Graduate Receives Presidential Rank Award
September 2010: Dr. Ruth Preller, an FSU alumna who received her MS and PhD in meteorology under the direction of COAPS founder James O'Brien, has received a Meritorious Executive award from President Barack Obama for her service as Superintendent of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Oceanography Division. This award is given to a select group of career Senior Executive Service members who have provided exceptional service to the American people over an extended period of time. Preller has the distinction of being the first female senior executive at NRL, managing a research program that provides today's warfighter with reliable predictions (nowcasts and forecasts) of ocean currents, temperature, salinity, optics, tides, waves, hurricane surge, and surf zone conditions.
Florida Climate Institute Fall Seminar Series
September 2010: Please join us for the Fall 2010 Seminar Series of the newly formed Florida Climate Institute! Each monthly seminar will consist of 3 short presentations from leading climate researchers at the University of Florida and the Florida State University. The location of the live presentations will alternate between UF and FSU, and the presentations will be transmitted via video to the non-host institution. The seminars will be held on the following Mondays from 11am-12pm: 9/27, 10/11, 11/15, 11/29.
For more information, visit http://www.floridaclimateinstitute.org/events/.
Offshore Wind Energy: Prospects for Florida and the Gulf of Mexico
September 2010: Mark Powell, a NOAA scientist stationed at COAPS, recently gave a seminar at FSU on the viability of offshore wind energy in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico region. Recent events (Deepwater Horizon, Massey Mine, Dimock PA, Kalamazoo River), IPCC global climate change projections, energy security concerns, and public health issues all point to a massive shift towards a diverse, renewables-based, energy strategy that will be accomplished over several decades. Offshore wind power is an important component of a future renewable energy portfolio but the offshore wind resources for Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi are missing from the latest maps issued by the Department of Energy. FSU and NOAA-AOML scientists are beginning to explore this resource. The presentation included a discussion of current fuel sources, advantages and limitations of wind energy, preliminary indications of the offshore wind energy resource for Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, and research needed to support the development of a sustainable offshore wind energy industry in the U.S.
FSU Scientists to Lead Comprehensive Oil-Spill Study
September 2010: A distinguished group of Florida State University oceanographers, meteorologists, and marine biologists and ecologists will share a new, $500,000 grant from the Northern Gulf Institute to conduct a comprehensive study of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact on coastal and ocean marine ecosystems in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.
"This project will take us beyond shock and anxiety to show us what has really happened and suggest where the remediation efforts must lead us," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph Travis, a biologist recognized for his work in population ecology.
Multiple teams of two or three Florida State researchers will be integrating the findings from their respective portions of the study to create a detailed, multipronged assessment of conditions along the northern West Florida Shelf, which stretches from the Panhandle's Big Bend Region west to Louisiana.
The interdisciplinary, rapid-response project will be completed within about five months, according to FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory Director Felicia Coleman, who will help to lead the portion of the study that examines the potential for crude oil pollutants to concentrate in shelf-edge habitat "engineered" by fishery species.
Project teams will include several members of the Department of Biological Science faculty who are based at the Coastal and Marine Laboratory, and researchers from the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science and the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS).
The Northern Gulf Institute is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute that involves partnerships with universities across the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, including Florida State University.
Florida Climate Institute Kickoff - November 16, 2010
August 2010: Climate researchers throughout Florida are cordially invited to the Florida Climate Institute Kickoff! The event will be held Tuesday, November 16, from 2-7pm at the FSU Alumni Center, and will feature keynote speakers, special guests, a poster session, and a reception. The Florida Climate Institute (FCI) is a new joint venture between the University of Florida and the Florida State University. The FCI is working to build a more sustainable future by improving our understanding of and identifying appropriate responses to climate variability and change. For more information and to register, please visit http://coaps.fsu.edu/fcikickoff/.
Download the event invitation.
July Climate Summary for Florida
August 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its July Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were mostly above normal in July, while rainfall was below normal in most areas.
Projecting the Effects of Sea Surface Temperature Changes on Hurricane Activity
August 2010: Tim LaRow and Lydia Stefanova, meteorologists at COAPS, have been awarded a $503,000 grant from the US Department of Energy to study how changing sea surface temperatures may affect hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean during the remainder of the 21st century. Over the next three years, the scientists will use a computer model to examine historical and projected changes in sea surface temperatures and the relationships between sea surface temperatures, hurricanes, global climate change, and other climate phenomena such as El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The project will look at both anthropogenic and natural climate change projections from the fifth phase of the World Climate Research Programme's Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5).
Oceanographers Consulted on the Potential Effect of Hurricanes on Oil in the Gulf
August 2010: COAPS oceanographers Dmitry Dukhovskoy and Steve Morey met recently with US Congressman Allen Boyd (D-FL) and FSU Federal Relations Director Raymond Bye to discuss the potential effects of hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Dukhovskoy and Morey use computer models to simulate the possible spread of oil during strong winds and storm surge, and found that winds from a hurricane in the Gulf will move surface oil westward along the Gulf Coast prior to landfall. Surge from a storm making landfall in the northern Gulf could transport oil far onshore, particularly over low wetland regions. Strong wind and wave mixing could also enhance the breaking-up of oil on the surface. Congressman Boyd recently held a Joint Oil Spill - Hurricane Planning Conference to develop a response plan for the event of a hurricane strike within the Gulf.
New Forecast Forum for the Intra-Americas Study of Climate Processes
July 2010: Researchers at COAPS have developed a 2010 Forecast Forum for the Intra-Americas Study of Climate Processes (IASCliP) program. The forum forecasts the seasonal climate for August-September-October (ASO) 2010 for the IASCLIP region based on forecasts from 6 models. It also highlights issues and errors in the operational climate prediction models over the IASCLiP region. The forum is online at http://coaps.fsu.edu/iasclip/. For more information, contact Dr. Vasu Misra.
James O'Brien Teaches Seniors About Weather
July 2010: COAPS Professor Emeritus James O'Brien was recently featured in the Tallahassee Democrat for a presentation he gave to local senior citizens on climate and weather. For a summary of the talk, which includes a discussion of regional climate change issues, please download the article.
Gulf Oil Disaster: Public Talk & Forum with Dr. Riki Ott, July 21-24
July 2010: Dr. Riki Ott, a marine toxicologist and expert on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, will give four 40-minute presentations in Tallahassee on marine oil disasters and their long term effects. She will then facilitate a positive public forum with the people present and help them expand their community action plan. The events will be held at various locations throughout Tallahassee from July 21-24. For more information, download the event flier.
June Climate Summary for Florida
July 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its June Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were above normal in June, while rainfall was below normal in most areas.
COAPS Receives NASA Funding for Climate Change Education
July 2010: Scientists at COAPS and the University of South Florida's Coalition for Science Literacy have been awarded a $560,000 NASA grant for climate change education. Over the next three years, Mark Bourassa, Shawn Smith, and David Zierden will help develop workshops and other professional development programs for middle school teachers on global climate change. These programs will increase the teachers' understanding of climate change science and better enable them to use NASA resources to stimulate student interest and comprehension. Focus groups made up of middle school students will help select regional climate change issues of interest for inclusion in professional development materials.
PhD Student Austin Todd Featured on Blackboard @ FSU
June 2010: COAPS is honored to have Austin Todd, a PhD student in oceanography, featured in the student profile section on FSU's Blackboard website. The profile article highlights Austin's work on a research expedition to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, his studies of gag grouper transport in Florida's Big Bend Region, and his leadership roles within the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science. Dr. Eric Chassignet, COAPS Director and Austin's advisor, says that Austin "has already made a significant contribution to our understanding of the ecology of the Big Bend Region," and COAPS scientist Steve Morey commends Austin for his "remarkable aptitude for applying knowledge of meteorology, oceanography, numerical analysis, and statistics ... to real-world problems."
Scientists Say Florida Current May Be Viable Renewable Energy Source for Florida
June 2010: Scientists at COAPS and Florida Atlantic University's Center for Ocean Energy Technology are investigating the possibility of harnessing energy from strong ocean currents off Florida's east coast to help meet Florida's increasing electricity demand. The scientists are using global ocean prediction models to assess and predict power availability in the Florida Current, a section of the Gulf Stream System which extends from the Florida Straits to Cape Hatteras, and are also assessing the impact underwater ocean turbines might have on the Florida Current and Gulf Stream. So far, their research indicates that the power available in the Florida Current can range between 6 to 10 gigawatts, depending on turbine efficiency, which is equivalent to about 6 to 10 nuclear power plants. For more information, contact Assistant Research Scientist Alexandra Bozec.
COAPS Summer Newsletter
June 2010: The summer COAPS newsletter is now available! The newsletter includes educational articles about current research efforts at COAPS, as well as alumni and student profiles.
2010 COAPS Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast
June 2010: Scientists at COAPS have just released their second annual Atlantic hurricane season forecast. This year's forecast calls for a mean of: 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE; a measure of the strength and duration of storms) of 156. These numbers are above the 1995-2009 average of 13.8 named storms and 7.9 hurricanes, and are related to unusually warm tropical North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, the possible emergence of La Niña conditions and the ongoing positive phase of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation.
May Climate Summary for Florida
June 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its May Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were above normal in May, while rainfall was below normal in most areas.
COAPS Aids in Oil Spill Response
May 2010: Scientists at COAPS have joined the newly formed Oil Spill Academic Task Force (OSATF) to provide assistance to local, state and federal responders in dealing with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its aftermath. The aim of OSATF is to provide coordination of academic resources to measure and model the magnitude and trajectory of the spill, provide information on the potential and actual ecological impacts of the oil, plan logistics and evaluate risks, and assist in citizen response efforts.
More detailed information about research being conducted specifically at FSU and COAPS may be found at the FSU Deepwater Horizon website.
6/17/10: Where Would the Oil Go if a Katrina-like Storm Hit? (WCTV, with Associate Research Scientist Steve Morey and Assistant Research Scientist Dmitry Dukhovskoy)
5/30/10: Experts Predict Hurricane Season Impact on Gulf Oil Spill (.pdf; Epoch Times, with Associate Professor Mark Bourassa, Assistant Research Scientist Dmitry Dukhovskoy, and Associate Research Scientist Tim LaRow)
5/21/10: Loop Current Splitting; Could Shield Florida from Oil Spill (.pdf; Tallahassee Democrat, with Assistant Research Scientist Dmitry Dukhovskoy)
5/20/10: Loop Current in Gulf Could Be Good for Florida's Coast (.pdf; WCTV, with Assistant Research Scientist Dmitry Dukhovskoy)
5/20/10: Loop Current Splitting; Could Shield Florida from Oil Spill (.pdf; WTSP Tampa, with Assistant Research Scientist Dmitry Dukhovskoy)
5/17/10: Researchers Ponder a Hurricane Hitting the Oil-Slicked Gulf of Mexico (ClimateWire/New York Times, with Associate Research Scientist Steve Morey and Assistant Research Scientist Dmitry Dukhovskoy)
5/15/10: Florida Scientist Tracking Oil Spill with State-of-the-Art Forecast Model (.pdf; WTSP Tampa, with Associate Research Scientist Steve Morey)
5/7/10: FSU Playing Major Role in Monitoring, Assessment of Gulf Oil Spill (FSU.com, with Associate Research Scientist Steve Morey)
5/5/10: Florida Universities Team Up to Help Governments Cope With Oil Spill (The Chronicle of Higher Education, with Assistant Professor Brian Arbic)
Meteorology Student Wins Prestigious Hollings Scholarshop
May 2010: Daniel Gilford, a meteorology and applied mathematics student working in the COAPS Data Center, is one of just 121 students nationwide to win the 2010 Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from NOAA. Gilford will receive academic assistance of up to $8,000 per academic year for his junior and senior years as well as a full-time, paid summer internship with a NOAA agency between his junior and senior years.
For more information, see the FSU press release.
Meeting Announcement: Southeast Coastal and Meteorology Conference
May 2010: On May 27, COAPS will host the 4th annual Southeast Coastal Oceanography and Meteorology (SECOM) conference. SECOM is an informal, low cost meeting designed to promote open discussion about topics related to coastal oceanography and meteorology of the South Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Mexico. A major goal of the meeting is to facilitate exchange of ideas and foster collaboration among participants. Students are particularly encouraged to present.
The conference will be held at the FSU Research Building A in Tallahassee. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/secom2010/.
Hurricane Experts at COAPS
May 2010: From prediction to recovery, COAPS experts are among the best in the nation when it comes to the study of hurricanes and their impact on people and property. And this year, they have an additional challenge: assessing the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and considering how it might interact with one or more major storms. At the website below, FSU has compiled a list of hurricane experts at COAPS and the rest of the university. These experts are available to answer media questions and give perspective to news stories throughout the 2010 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
COAPS Receives $2.5 Million USDA Grant to Develop Forecasts for Farmers
May 2010: U.S. Congressman Allen Boyd (D-North Florida) announced that FSU/COAPS has received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC) to develop improved methods to forecast droughts and other extreme climate events in the southeastern states. The forecasts will help agricultural, forest and natural resource managers to reduce risks of losses and environmental damage. In addition, the SECC will develop new partnerships and methods for incorporating climate forecasts into agricultural and water policy decisions. Boyd joined James O'Brien, emeritus Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography and former director of COAPS, and Raymond Bye, director of federal relations and economic development at FSU, at COAPS to make the announcement. For more information, see the FSU press release.
Related Tallahassee Democrat article.
April Climate Summary for Florida
May 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its April Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were near normal in April, while rainfall was above normal in central and southern areas and below normal in northern areas of the state.
COAPS Receives Funding for Hurricane Risk Assessment
May 2010: With a new $400,000 grant from the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center, scientists at COAPS will examine the relationships between hurricane winds and storm surge in order to advance understanding of the physical causes of hurricane property damage and encourage fair pricing of flood and wind storm insurance coverage. Drs. Steve Cocke, Steve Morey, Dmitry Dukhovskoy, and Mark Powell will conduct detailed case studies of Hurricanes Ike (2008), Dennis (2005), and Ivan (2004), and will develop a combined wind and surge risk modeling methodology for the Gulf of Mexico coastline. In contrast to current risk models, which focus solely on wind hazards, a more holistic methodology may enable the insurance industry and federal and state governments to create a more accurate system of insurance coverage based on the combined risk of wind, surge, wave, and rain flooding damage to a property. The 2-year study will be conducted in collaboration with Florida State alumnus Robert Weisberg and other scientists at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science.
Seminar: Building a High Performance Green Home
April 2010: On Friday, April 23, Mark Powell, a NOAA hurricane scientist stationed at COAPS, will give a brown bag lunch seminar on "Building a High Performance Green Home: A LEED for Homes Project in Tallahassee." Powell moved to Tallahassee from Coconut Grove in 2008 and spent his spare time designing a new home to the highest standards for sustainability, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes (LEED-H) rating system run by the U. S. Green Building Council. The now-completed home is yet to be rated but preliminary calculations suggest that it should be among the greenest homes in the state and the nation with the goal of a "Platinum" certification. This informal talk will describe the design and construction of the home, including the design and build team, site selection, foundation and building envelope, water conservation, air and water quality, landscaping, recycling, renewable energy systems, economic incentives, and environmentally preferable materials. The talk will be held at 12:00pm in room 220 of the R.M. Johnson Building (Innovation Park).
March Climate Summary for Florida
April 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its March Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were well below normal in March, while rainfall was well above normal in central areas of the state.
COAPS Student Josh Cossuth Selected for Outstanding Senior Scholar Award
March 2010: Josh Cossuth, an undergraduate meteorology student at COAPS, has been selected for Florida State University's Outstanding Senior Scholar Award for 2010. This award is given to ten seniors who have exemplified academic and scholarly achievement during their time at FSU. Josh will receive a plaque and $100 at the annual Honors Night ceremony on Thursday, April 15, at 7:00 pm in the Turnbull Florida State Conference Center.
State Climatologist David Zierden Interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times on Climate Change
March 2010: David Zierden, Florida State Climatologist and Associate in Research at COAPS, was recently interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times for an article on climate change. In the article, Zierden addresses the uncertainties surrounding climate change, how politics can contribute to an increase in misinformation, and the few broad conclusions that most climate scientists support.
St. Petersburg Times Article (PDF; see pages 3-4)
February Climate Summary for Florida
March 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its February Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were well below normal for February, while rainfall was generally above normal in southern areas and near normal in northern and central areas.
January Climate Summary for Florida
February 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its January Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average temperatures were well below normal for January, while rainfall was generally above normal in northern areas and below normal in central and southern areas.
COAPS PhD Student Wins Guy Harvey Excellence Award in Marine Science
January 2010: Austin Todd, COAPS PhD student in oceanography, has been selected as a recipient of the first Guy Harvey Excellence Award in Marine Science. The award is administered by the Florida Sea Grant College Program and recognizes undergraduate and graduate students enrolled full time at Florida institutions of higher education who are conducting work related to bettering our renewable, finite marine resources through science. The $2,000 award will be used to support Austin's research into understanding the physical mechanisms responsible for the onshore transport of gag grouper larvae from spawning grounds near the northeastern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf break to sea grass beds along the coast of the Florida Big Bend.
January 2010: Please join us on Saturday, January 30, for WeatherFest 2010! WeatherFest is a fun and educational day for the entire family, and is hosted by the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, the Florida State University Department of Meteorology, and the North Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society. The event will be held at the Love Building on the main FSU campus from 10am until 5pm. COAPS and CoCoRaHS will have a booth setup with activities and handouts.
Northern Gulf Institute Studies Ocean Processes Impacting Fish Populations
January 2010: In collaboration with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS - Panama City) and as part of the NOAA Northern Gulf Institute (NGI), research is being conducted at The Florida State University to better understand the physical oceanographic and atmospheric environment of the Florida Big Bend Region (BBR) in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and its impacts on regional ecosystems and fish populations. This is the least studied region of the U.S. Gulf Coast, yet supports abundant ecologically and economically important fish populations.
The BBR encompasses a variety of habitat supporting finfish populations including estuarine, sea grass, and hard bottom reef systems from the coast to the outer edge of the wide shelf. Several important fish species depend on these different habitats at various times during their life cycle. For example, gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) adults inhabit hard bottom reefs over the inner and middle shelf throughout most of the year. During the winter, there is an offshore migration leading to the spawn on offshore reefs along the outer edge of the continental shelf (70-90m deep). After a 1-2 month pelagic larval phase on the shelf, gag settle in seagrass habitats close to shore where their abundance can vary as much as 200-fold among years (Fitzhugh et al. 2005). The mechanism by which the larvae are transported to the nearshore seagrass beds in not yet understood. A numerical modeling and observational approach is being used to identify and characterize the mechanism by which the larvae migrate to the seagrass nursery habitat. The potential interactions between various physical processes and circulation patterns with larval behavior are being investigated.
The existence and variability of the onshore transport mechanism may in part explain the large variability in recruitment, in turn leading to variations in adult populations. Better knowledge of these processes may lead to improved stock assessments for better management of the fisheries.
For more information, please contact Dr. Steve Morey, Associate Research Scientist at COAPS.
December Climate Summary for Florida
January 2010: The Florida Climate Center has released its December Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that most average temperatures were near normal while rainfall totals were well above normal in the northern, central, and east-coastal areas during the month of December.
Verification of the 2009 FSU/COAPS Atlantic Hurricane Seasonal Forecast
December 2009: December 1 marks the end of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane season was below average with only nine named storms, three hurricanes and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index of approximately 52. The ACE was the lowest since 1997, a strong El Niño year, with the three hurricanes accounting for approximately 85% of the total ACE.
On June 2, the FSU/COAPS dynamical prediction model forecasted an average of eight named storms, four hurricanes and an ACE of 65. These numbers are based on an ensemble of four realizations and are below the model's climatology (based on 23 years, 1986-2008) of 12.3 named storms, 6.9 hurricanes and an ACE of 117. This compares with an observed climatology for this period of 12 named storms, 6.7 hurricanes and an ACE of 113. Our prediction used the 180-day forecast of daily sea surface temperatures (SSTs) determined by the NOAA CFS coupled model. Contributing to the FSU/COAPS model's prediction of low tropical cyclone activity this season was the CFS model's forecast of positive SST anomalies in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (El Niño) and negative SST anomalies in the tropical Atlantic. Atlantic tropical cyclone activity is known to be positively correlated with SST anomalies in the North Atlantic and negatively correlated with SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific. During the peak of the hurricane season (August, September, and October) the CFS SST anomalies used in our model were +1°C and -0.38°C in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic, respectively. Our 2009 forecast along with our 23 years of re-forecasts add to the growing research that the use of dynamical models to forecast seasonal tropical cyclone activity can outperform statistical methods.
Shown in the table below are a few of the early season forecasts.
Table 1: Seasonal predictions from some groups.
|Group||Method||Issue Date||Total Storms||Hurricanes||ACE|
|NOAA||Hybrid||21 May||9-14||4-7||65-130% of Median|
|UK Met Office||Dynamical||18 June||6 (70% chance between3-9)||60 (70% chance between 40-80)|
|Colorado State University||Statistical||2 June||11||5||85|
|Tropical Storm Risk||Statistical||4 June||10.9||5.2||69|
November Climate Summary for Florida
December 2009: The Florida Climate Center has released its November Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that temperatures were near normal while rainfall totals were generally near or below normal during November.
Hurricanes Threaten Drilling Enterprise
November 2009: Mark Powell, a NOAA scientist stationed at COAPS, recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Tallahassee Democrat regarding the Florida Symposium on Offshore Energy, part one of which was held this month at The Florida State University. In his letter, Powell calls for greater recognition of the potential for oil industry infrastructure damage due to hurricanes, and improved risk management strategies. Powell, in collaboration with COAPS scientists Shawn Smith and Steve Cocke, is currently working on a pilot study to examine offshore and coastal wind potential in Florida.
COAPS and Florida State Join the Gulf Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit
November 2009: Under the initiative of COAPS, The Florida State University has joined the Gulf Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (GC-CESU). The GC-CESU is part of a national organization which facilitates collaborative research, education and technical assistance pertaining to the human and natural environment, within and beyond the region, among federal and state agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations. The federal agencies who are participants in the CESU include Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA, National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey - Biological Resources Division. Members of the GC-CESU are afforded streamlined processes for funding, purchase / work orders, overhead and cost sharing. In particular, participation in the CESU will allow COAPS to develop stronger ties with the National Park Service's Southeast Archeological Center, which is collocated in the R.M. Johnson Building.
October Climate Summary for Florida
November 2009: The Florida Climate Center has released its October Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that temperatures were above normal while rainfall totals were generally near or below normal during October.
Sea Level Rise Research Continues to Draw Attention
November 2009: Research conducted by COAPS scientist Jianjun Yin on sea level rise is continuing to attract attention from a variety of media and research organizations. Yin was recently quoted in a Miami Herald article on the lack of concern among Floridians for sea level rise issues, saying, "The public needs to understand that it's a real threat that sea levels will rise a meter by the end of this century." Yin's research was also referenced in the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Magazine in an article on regional sea level rise projections. Last spring, Yin published a study on sea level rise in Nature Geoscience showing that regional sea level along the northeastern coast of the U.S., particularly near New York, is expected to rise almost twice as fast as global sea levels during the twenty-first century.
COAPS PhD Student Wins High Performance Computing Competition
November 2009: Henry Winterbottom, COAPS PhD student in meteorology, recently won the Florida State University High Performance Computing (HPC) student competition for best research research paper. Henry's paper, titled "Using High-Performance Computing at FSU for Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Models," demonstrated efficient utilization of the HPC and a novel computational approach, among other selection criteria. As winner, Henry is receiving an expense paid trip to the SC09 supercomputing conference in Portland, Oregon.
Sir James Lighthill Distinguished Lectureship
November 2009: During the first week of November, The Florida State University will present the annual Sir James Lighthill Distinguished Lectureship Award and host an accompanying lecture series. Provost Lawrence G. Abele established the award to honor leaders in mathematical sciences, and this year's award will be presented to Professor Alexandre J. Chorin from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Chorin will give three lectures, including a public lecture titled "Prediction and Optimal Prediction," and an engineering, meteorology, and oceanography lecture on "Non-Bayesian Particle Filters." For more information, please see the flyer below.
Graduate Student Symposium - November 6
November 2009: The Thalassic Society (the FSU Oceanography graduate student organization) will be holding its 4th annual Student Symposium on Friday, November 6. The symposium is open to the departments of Oceanography, Meteorology, and Geology, as well as any graduate students working on aquatic research in other FSU departments. The symposium provides students with an opportunity to present their research or research plans.
September Climate Summary for Florida
October 2009: The Florida Climate Center has released its September Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that temperatures were near normal while rainfall totals were generally below normal during September.
COAPS Participates in Earth Science Week
October 2009: In celebration of Earth Science Week, COAPS will participated in the Florida Geological Survey's annual Open House on Wednesday, October 14, at the Gunter Building on the Florida State University main campus. Earth Science Week is a national event organized by the American Geological Survey, and this year's theme is "Understanding Climate". COAPS Assistant State Climatologist Melissa Griffin provided rain gauge demonstrations throughout the morning, as well as additional information about climate services at COAPS. For more information about Earth Science Week, please visit http://www.earthsciweek.org.
El Niño's Effect on Winter Weather
October 2009: David Zierden, Florida State Climatologist and Associate in Research at COAPS, was recently consulted by several news outlets about the effects of the current El Niño on winter weather. El Niño occurs when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are warmer than normal and, according to Zierden, this could mean more rainfall and colder temperatures this winter in Florida and surrounding states. El Niño's "actually good for a lot of crops here in Florida and South Georgia," said Zierden, since many fruits grown in the region require a certain number of chill hours in order to flower properly.
Examining Possible Links between Climate and Foodborne Illness
September 2009: COAPS scientist Vasu Misra has recently received funding to examine possible links between the waters of the Atlantic Warm Pool, which extend from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean and the western tropical north Atlantic, and the occurrence of a foodborne illness called Ciguatera.
Ciguatera is caused by eating fish contaminated with a toxin found in many tropical microorganisms. There are an estimated 500,000 cases/year worldwide, and the impact is particularly severe among lower socio-economic groups, who are often dependent on local reef fish as a primary food source. The Caribbean region is especially endemic to Ciguatera.
Observations suggest that the incidence and symptoms of Ciguatera are worsening over time. COAPS will investigate whether changes in environmental conditions (especially sea surface temperatures) can lead to the modulation of Gambierdiscus toxicus, the microalgae implicated as the source for Ciguatera-associated toxins.
Wind Energy: How Much Power Can Florida's Winds Provide?
September 2009: COAPS scientists Mark Powell, Shawn Smith, and Steve Cocke are launching a pilot study to examine offshore and coastal wind potential in our state. The scientists will examine climate data to compute the annual wind resource in Florida and its seasonal variability at selected surface wind observing stations. The study will ultimately help determine whether wind is a viable renewable energy resource for Florida, and whether it is capable of supporting a new industry and the jobs and revenue that could come with it.
COAPS Fall Newsletter
September 2009: The fall COAPS newsletter is now available! The newsletter includes educational articles about current research efforts at COAPS, as well as alumni and student profiles. It will be passed out to the public at outreach events, and emailed to alumni and other supporters.
August 2009: This summer, three high school students taking part in Florida State's Young Scholars Program (YSP) worked with scientists at COAPS on a research project for the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI). YSP is a six-week residential science and math program for Florida high school juniors and seniors with significant potential for careers in the sciences, engineering, and health professions (http://bio.fsu.edu/ysp/).
The three YSP students - Yilin "Linda" Cao, Danielle Howard, and Janaki Perera - spent two days a week at COAPS, working with Shawn Smith, Steve Morey, Austin Todd, and Jacob Rettig to analyze meteorological and oceanographic data collected at NGI tower N7 in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The students identified differences between the meteorological sensors that could be attributed to the exposure of the instruments and blockage of the airflow around the tower from specific wind directions. Using the best-exposed instruments, Janaki searched for evidence of a nocturnal increase in easterly winds over Apalachee Bay, a feature that has been observed by recreational fishermen in the region. Her preliminary results showed evidence of these nocturnal easterlies during the spring months. Danielle and Linda collaborated to associate variations in the vertical structure of ocean water temperature and salinity at N7 with occurrences of strong winds. In addition, the students identified an occurrence of increased fresh water in the upper ocean at N7 that may be associated with the propagation of flood water from the Suwannee River in late April 2009. The students presented their research findings at the YSP poster session held on 22 July 2009 at Florida State's King Life Sciences Building.
NGI is a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute studying coastal hazards, climate change, water quality, ecosystem management, coastal wetlands and pollution in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Florida State is one of five academic institutions participating in the NGI consortium. Preliminary analysis completed by the YSP students will support ongoing research by Austin Todd into the life cycle of the gag grouper. For more information on NGI research at COAPS, please visit http://coaps.fsu.edu/ngi/.
Download the YSP poster
Related article in the NGI newsletter (p. 5).
July Climate Summary for Florida
August 2009: The Florida Climate Center has released its July Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that temperatures were near normal in July while El Niño gained steam in the Pacific Ocean.
COAPS Scientists Working to Improve Crop Yield Forecasts
July 2009: COAPS scientists Dong-Wook Shin, Young-Kwon Lim, Steve Cocke, Tim LaRow, and James O'Brien recently participated in a study assessing crop yield simulations using various seasonal climate data. For the study, the scientists evaluated the sensitivity of a crop model to different seasonal climate data for maize and peanut yield simulations. They found that dynamically and statistically downscaled climate data improved the crop yield simulations in comparison to the commonly used El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-based historical data. The scientists are now working to further improve crop yield predictions through the inclusion of more accurate rainfall data and the development of a coupled climate-crop model system.
Tallahassee Democrat Profiles COAPS
July 2009: Reporters from the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper recently visited the COAPS offices to profile the high tech COAPS facilities and dedicated COAPS scientists. Dr. Eric Chassignet, Dr. Brian Arbic, Dr. Steve Cocke, Dr. Dmitry Dukhovskoy, and Dr. Mark Powell were featured in an article titled "Research at FSU Center Impacts Everyone from Fishermen to Farmers" and in a photo gallery on the newspaper's website.
Tallahassee Democrat article (48 KB)
Tallahassee Democrat photo gallery (1.25 MB)
June 2009: A group of scientists at COAPS led by Dr. Tim LaRow have recently released their first-ever hurricane forecast. For the 2009 hurricane season, they are predicting a mean of 8 named storms and 4 hurricanes for the Atlantic Ocean. These numbers are below the historical average of 11 tropical systems and 6 hurricanes, and are related to the possible re-emergence of El Niño conditions in the tropical east Pacific and relatively cool tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures.
For the research project, the scientists used the FSU/COAPS global spectral model, a state-of-the-art computer program run on Florida State's high performance supercomputing cluster. LaRow and colleagues Lydia Stefanova and Dong-Wook Shin programmed the model with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their dynamical approach to forecasting tropical activity is vastly different from the statistical methods traditionally used to forecast tropical activity, such as those issued each year by Prof. Bill Gray at Colorado State University, which have shown modest skill.
In order to test how useful the NOAA forecasted SSTs would be in tropical cyclone studies, the scientists performed 20 years of re-forecasts (hindcasts) using the sea surface temperatures determined by NOAA on 1 June from 1986-2005. The FSU/COAPS model performed surprisingly well for the entire 20 years using the forecasted SSTs. The agreement between the interannual variability of total storms and hurricanes counts was very high.
In comparison to the COAPS forecast, NOAA's 2009 seasonal hurricane outlook, which is based on current and forecasted large-scale atmospheric and oceanic conditions, calls for a 50% chance of a near-normal season. According to these scenarios, NOAA estimates a 70% probability for each of the following seasonal ranges: 9-14 named storms; 4-7 hurricanes; and 1-3 major hurricanes.
Further hurricane research at COAPS will be funded in part by a recent NOAA Applied Research Center (ARC) grant of $935,000.
Tallahassee Democrat article (PDF, 40 KB)
June 2009: COAPS scientists Dmitry Dukhovskoy, Steve Morey, and James O'Brien have recently published an article in Ocean Modelling about their research regarding very strong currents near the bottom of the Sigsbee Escarpment in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The region has been intensively explored by oil/gas companies in the last decade, and these very energetic bottom trapped currents, which have been recorded at speeds of nearly 1 meter per second, could cause damage to offshore pipelines and difficulties in navigating Remotely Operated Vehicles. A primary objective of this study, which was funded by the DeepStar oil consortium, was to develop an appropriate model of the Sigsbee Escarpment region that would be used to study the ocean dynamics in the region, aid in analysis of the observational data, and suggest possible mechanisms of the phenomenon. The very steep slope of the Sigsbee Escarpment (0.05 - 0.1) limits the application of ocean models with traditional terrain-following (sigma) vertical coordinates due to large truncation errors during calculation of the horizontal pressure gradient. Dukhovskoy and Morey, in cooperation with scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory, have developed a new vertical coordinate system (vanishing quasi-sigma) for simulating the currents in this region. The new vertical grid demonstrates substantially reduced truncation errors over the steep slopes compared to traditional sigma coordinate. The simulations with the new vertical grid are being used to study the intensification of the currents, the probability of the currents occurring at different places, and the link between the currents and circulation in the upper ocean.
New Research Shows Far-reaching Impacts of Changes in the Apalachicola River Flow
June 2009: Recent research conducted by COAPS scientists Steve Morey, Dmitry Dukhovskoy, and Mark Bourassa demonstrates the far-reaching impacts of variations in the Apalachicola River flow rate on water properties in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The scientists used satellite ocean color data and computer models of ocean circulation to identify a region extending roughly 200 km offshore of Apalachicola Bay where changes in ocean color, which are indicative of the abundance of microscopic plants called phytoplankton as well as other organic material important to the marine food web, are significantly linked to changes in the river flow. The results of this work broaden environmental considerations for managed flow reductions, including those proposed by Georgia to divert water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system to the burgeoning population of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Tallahassee Democrat article (PDF, 40 KB)
National Hurricane Center Modifies Saffir-Simpson Scale
June 2009: The National Hurricane Center has recently renamed the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, and removed all references to storm surge, flooding impact, and central pressure from the scale's description. This was done to help improve the accuracy of the scale and reduce public confusion about the impacts associated with the various hurricane categories, but Mark Powell, a NOAA scientist stationed at COAPS, believes that the current scale still could give people a false sense of security during storms that fall under the scale's lower categories. Powell is instead calling for the adoption of a new scale that incorporates the size of a storm's wind field to more accurately predicts risks like storm surge. Powell's scale would run from 0.1 to 6, and the use of decimal points would allow for more detailed descriptions of storm strength.
COAPS Summer Newsletter
June 2009: The summer COAPS newsletter is now available! The newsletter includes educational articles about current research efforts at COAPS, as well as alumni and student profiles. It will be passed out to the public at outreach events, and emailed to alumni and other supporters.
May Climate Summary for Florida
June 2009: The Florida Climate Center has released its May Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that temperatures were slightly above normal and discusses an unusual storm system that brought widespread heavy rainfall to nearly all areas of the state.
Retired COAPS Professor Receives $2.33 Million Grant from USDA
May 2009: The United States Department of Agriculture has announced a $2.33 million, one-year grant to Dr. James J. O'Brien to help farmers throughout the Southeast get the most from their crops. O'Brien, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of meteorology and oceanography, has retired and is currently a part-time researcher at COAPS. Florida State is the prime contractor for the Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Service award, but will share it with the other universities that make up the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC) - The University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Alabama-Huntsville, Auburn University, North Carolina State University, University of Miami and Clemson University. The SECC supplies seasonal climate forecasts tailored for farmers in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. Users can make decisions on planting dates, crop choices, fertilizer treatments, irrigation and more to improve their crop production.
O'Brien praised U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, who was instrumental in convincing the USDA to support the consortium for its knowledge delivery to farmers. He also cited the support of COAPS Director Eric Chassignet, who has applauded using the scientific data for such a practical application. "The agricultural community in Florida, Georgia and Alabama use the research findings to change their planting practices with good results," O'Brien said, "thereby increasing their profits." County-by-county information to help farmers make decisions can be found at AgroClimate.
WCTV Article (PDF, 68 KB)
Impacts of Tropical Cyclones on U.S. Forest Tree Mortality and Carbon Flux from 1851 to 2000
May 2009: A recent study coauthored by Mark Powell, a scientist from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division stationed at COAPS, examined the historical effects of tropical cyclones on U.S. forests and the carbon cycle. Results demonstrated an average of 97 million trees affected each year over the entire country, and serve as an important baseline for evaluating how potential future changes in hurricane frequency and intensity will impact forest tree mortality and carbon balance.
April Climate Summary for Florida
May 2009: The Florida Climate Center has just released its April Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that temperatures were near normal for April and unusually active weather patterns brought frequent torrential rains to North Florida. Flooding, drought, and climate impacts on agriculture and forestry are also discussed in the report.
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale Deemed Inadequate
April 2009: Dr. Mark Powell, a scientist from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division stationed at COAPS, is among a group of scientists who say the Saffir-Simpson scale for hurricane intensity is inadequate. At the recent National Hurricane Conference in Austin, Texas, Powell called for the replacement of the scale, arguing that by focusing solely on wind speed, the scale fails to accurately identity storm surge risk. Powell and colleagues developed new scales for wind and surge/waves based on the integrated kinetic energy of the wind field.
COAPS Receives NSF Grant to Expand Research Vessel Data Collection
April 2009: The National Science Foundation has awarded start-up funding to COAPS to expand collections of underway meteorological and oceanographic observations from research vessels. The funding will establish a partnership between the Shipboard Automated Meteorological and Oceanographic System (SAMOS) data center at COAPS, the NSF funded Rolling Deck to Repository pilot project, and the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System fleet. The data provided by research vessels to the SAMOS data center are ideal for accurate estimation of turbulent air-sea fluxes, which support satellite and numerical modeling activities. Research vessels operate well outside of normal shipping lanes, providing data that are critical to develop improved satellite retrievals of temperature, humidity, and surface radiation.
Optimizing Crop Insurance under Climate Variability
April 2009: A recent study coauthored by COAPS economist Daniel Solís analyzes the potential tradeoffs between farmers and insurers when selecting an optimal crop insurance contract in the presence of climate variability. In the study, Solís and colleagues (V. E. Cabrera of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and D. Letson of the University of Miami) found that the use of climate forecasts based on El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) significantly affects the selection of crop insurance contracts for both farmers and insurers, and can ultimately lead to improved risk management for both parties.
COAPS at the FSU Coastal & Marine Lab Open House
April 2009: Please join us on Saturday, April 18, for the annual FSU Coastal & Marine Lab Open House! COAPS and CoCoRaHS will have a booth at the event with a variety of displays, handouts, and activities, including a water balloon rain gauge toss, a hail pad drop, and a wave simulator. The Open House is a fun-filled event for the whole family, with hands-on children's activities, research presentations, and much more! All activities and parking are free! The event will be held from 10:00am to 3:00pm at the Marine Lab in St. Teresa (3618 Coastal Highway).
March Climate Summary for Florida
April 2009: The Florida Climate Center has just released its March Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average March temperatures were near normal across most of the state, with the exception of the western Panhandle region, where temperatures were 2 degrees warmer than normal. Rainfall averages were also below normal for much of the state, again with the exception of the western Panhandle. Flooding, drought, severe weather, and climate impacts on agriculture and forestry are also discussed in the report.
COAPS PhD Student Awarded Fellowship
March 2009: COAPS PhD student Henry Winterbottom is the recipient of the 2009 Jim and Sheila O'Brien Graduate Fellowship for his research in the area of air-sea interaction and physical oceanography. Up to three fellowships are awarded each year to FSU students who have submitted a doctoral prospectus to either the meteorology or oceanography department. As a recipient, Winterbottom will receive a stipend to facilitate the completion of his dissertation.
March 2009: COAPS scientist Jianjun Yin and colleagues have published a study online in Nature Geoscience showing that regional sea level along the northeastern coast of the United States, particularly near New York, is expected to rise almost twice as fast as global sea levels during the twenty-first century. The rising waters in this particular region are attributed to a slowing of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation, as estimated by a range of state-of-the-art climate models.
Yin and colleagues analyzed climate projections from a set of global climate models under a variety of greenhouse-gas emission scenarios. They find that sea levels in the North Atlantic Ocean adjust to the projected slowing of the meridional overturning circulation. Their model projection attributes 15-23 cm of the rise in New York sea level by the year 2100 to changes in the North Atlantic Ocean circulation, compared with 36-51 cm of total sea-level rise in this location.
This work suggests that the northeast coast of the U.S. is among the regions most vulnerable to future changes in sea level through variations in ocean circulation.
Study Shows No Long-Term Trend in Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone Activity
March 2009: COAPS Ph.D. student Ryan Maue, with support from Dr. Mark Bourassa and discussion with other FSU faculty, recently conducted research on tropical cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere. Maue examined variations in accumulated cyclone energy (a measurement of intensity, frequency, and duration) over the past 3 decades and found that, while energy levels in the northern hemisphere have varied widely during this time period, there has been no overall trend. Increases in cyclone energy in the northern Atlantic have been counterbalanced by decreases in the northern Pacific, and, in the last several years, cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere has been relatively inactive.
February Climate Summary for Florida
March 2009: The Florida Climate Center has just released its February Climate Summary for Florida. The report shows that average February temperatures were generally below normal across the state with the exception of the far western Panhandle. Rainfall averages were also generally 1 to 2 inches below normal, which has worsened drought conditions. Impacts on agriculture and forestry are also discussed in the report.
COAPS Spring Newsletter
March 2009: The first COAPS newsletter is now available! The newsletter includes educational articles about current research efforts at COAPS, as well as alumni and scientist profiles. It will be passed out to the public at outreach events, and emailed to alumni and other supporters.
3 COAPS Scientists Receive First Year Assistant Professor Awards
March 2009: Florida State University's Council on Research and Creativity has chosen 3 COAPS scientists to receive $17,000 First Year Assistant Professor grants for the 2009 summer term. Brian Arbic's research project is titled "Interactions of Tides and the Low-Frequency General Circulation in a High-Resolution Ocean model"; Vasu Misra's is "Multi-Parameter Estimation for Predictability at Seasonal to Interannual Scales"; and Zhaohua Wu's is "Temporal and Spatial Structures of Climate Trend".
February 2009: A recent study led by COAPS economist Daniel Solís with the collaboration of Mike Thomas (Florida A&M University) and Dave Letson (University of Miami) examines how socioeconomic factors, including wealth, household characteristics, and prior experience with hurricanes, influence whether or not individual households evacuate during a hurricane. For the study, Solís and colleagues surveyed over 1,300 households in northwest and southeast Florida who experienced a hurricane during the 2005 season. The results suggest that households living in risky environments (mobile home and flooding areas) are more likely to evacuate, as are households with children and those who have previously experienced the threat of a hurricane. In contrast, homeowners and households with pets are less likely to evacuate. Households in SE Florida are also less likely to evacuate in comparison with those living in NW Florida. Paradoxically, the data also suggests that the more people spend on storm preparation the less likely they are to evacuate. The results stemming from this study may help emergency managers to target resources more efficiently by focusing not only on households in risky environments but also on those with lower evacuation probabilities.
COAPS Scientist Featured in USA TODAY
February 2009: Melissa Griffin, Assistant State Climatologist at COAPS, is featured in the February 2nd issue of USA TODAY in an article titled "National Network of Volunteer Weather Observers Snowballs". The article discusses the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) and Melissa's work as co-coordinator of the Florida branch of CoCoRaHS, including the invaluable rainfall data Melissa's volunteers collected during Tropical Storm Fay.
USA TODAY article (PDF)
Climate Consortium Benefits Southeast
February 2009: Research conducted by COAPS scientists in the Southeast Climate Consortium is featured on the front page of the most recent issue of the Florida State Times. The article discusses how AgroClimate helps farmers adapt to regional climate variations, and features COAPS founder James O'Brien.
Florida State Times article (PDF) (pp. 1, 9)
La Niña's Abrupt Return Could Mean Winter Drought in Florida
(FSU News Release)
January 2009: The Southeast Climate Consortium is predicting a warm and dry winter and spring from until May 2009 for Florida with the return of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean.
It is unusual for La Niña to raise its signal so late in the winter, according to David F. Zierden, climate scientist at COAPS and state climatologist of Florida.
La Niña refers to a state of the tropical Pacific Ocean where surface temperatures along the equator from South America to the central Pacific turn colder than normal. La Niña can be thought of as the opposite of El Niño, where the same area of the Pacific is much warmer than normal.
La Niña affected Florida's climate patterns last winter as well before dissipating in April 2008. From that time until mid-December, surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean had been near normal, or the neutral phase. Driven by stronger than normal trade winds in the central Pacific since October, colder water has recently broken through to the surface over a large area and has taken on La Niña characteristics. This La Niña is expected to last through the remainder of the winter and into spring, Zierden said.
COAPS Staff and Students Help Make WeatherFest a Success
January 2009: An estimated 500-700 people attended Tallahassee's first-ever WeatherFest on Saturday, January 17. The event was organized by the National Weather Service of Tallahassee, FSU's Department of Meteorology, and the North Florida Chapter of the AMS. A number of COAPS staff and students, including Ashley Daniels, Meredith Field, Melissa Griffin, Don Van Dyke, and Rachel Weihs, directed visitors, offered tours, ran COAPS and CoCoRaHS informational booths, and engaged children in educational activities. One activity, a water balloon toss which taught children about rain gauges, was featured in the Tallahassee Democrat.
COAPS Student Nominated for Goldwater Scholarship
January 2009: Josh Cossuth, an undergraduate student in meteorology at COAPS, has recently been nominated for the esteemed Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. This national award is presented annually to undergraduate students who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. Four-year institutions such as Florida State are eligible to nominate a maximum of four students each year for this award, and Josh was chosen based on his past and ongoing undergraduate research and high GPA, as well as a recommendation from COAPS Research Associate Shawn Smith. Josh has also received a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Award, which enabled him to conduct research on stratospheric circulation last summer at the University of California at Irvine, and a Hollings Scholarship from NOAA.
COAPS Library Renamed to Honor Dr. James O'Brien
December 2008: The COAPS library is now called the James J. O'Brien Library in honor of Dr. James J. O'Brien, COAPS founder and Emeritus Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography, for his dedication to research and education. The library contains over 1,000 books and an extensive collection of journals, newsletters, maps, reports, and reprints relevant to meteorology and oceanography.
NASA's QuikSCAT Ocean-Observing Satellite Mission Team Wins Prestigious William T. Pecora Award
November 2008: On Tuesday, November 18, NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior presented the William T. Pecora Award to NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) Mission Team. The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by individuals or groups toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. QuikSCAT is an Earth-observing satellite that has provided early detection of ocean storms and advanced the scientific exploration of global ocean wind patterns.
COAPS has had a very long roll in scatterometry, dating back to the S3 report chaired by COAPS founder Jim O'Brien. Mark Bourassa, Associate Professor in Meteorology at COAPS, is currently Team Leader of NASA's Ocean Vector Wind Science Team, which is part of the QuikSCAT Mission Team.
3rd Oceanography Symposium
November 2008: The 3rd Oceanography Symposium was held on Thursday, November 13. This annual event is organized by the Thalassic Society and the Florida State University Department of Oceanography, and provides graduate students an opportunity to present their ongoing research in oceanography and related disciplines. COAPS PhD student and Thalassic Society officer Flavien Gouillon co-organized the Symposium, and several COAPS students gave presentations. For a complete list of presentation titles and abstracts, please visit the link below.
COAPS Hosts Research Vessel Technical Enhancement Committee Meeting
October 2008: COAPS, in partnership with the Department of Oceanography and the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory, hosted the annual Research Vessel Technical Enhancement Committee (RVTEC) meeting from October 28-30. RVTEC is part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), and promotes the scientific productivity of research programs that make use of research vessels and oceanographic facilities while fostering activities that enhance technical support for sea-going scientific programs. Shawn Smith, Research Associate at COAPS, co-organized the meeting, and gave a presentation on the Shipboard Automated Meteorological and Oceanographic System (SAMOS). Jeremy Rolph, Assistant in Research at COAPS, provided a show and tell on the SAMOS metadata interface. On Wednesday, 29 October, participants were treated to a tour of the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory prior to a workshop dinner at Angelo's.
Dr. O'Brien Honored at CICESE Celebration
October 2008: Dr. James J. O'Brien, Emeritus Robert O. Lawton Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography, was honored this past September at the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE) 35th anniversary celebration in Ensenada, B.C. Mexico. Professor O'Brien also presented the only external lecture at the occasion. The citation on the plaque reads: To Professor James J. O'Brien, for his outstanding, dedicated and generous commitment to the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. The award was presented by Dr. Federico Graef Ziehl, the Director General of CICESE.
COAPS Staff Receive Exemplary Service Awards
September 2008: Patty Boutelle, Departmental Accounting Associate at COAPS, and Melissa Griffin, Assistant State Climatologist at COAPS, were selected to receive FSU's Exemplary Service Award. This award is given annually to only seven employees in the entire University system, and COAPS is honored and proud to have two staff members recognized this year. Ms. Boutelle received the award in the Budget and Financial Services category, and Ms. Griffin received the award in the Scientific and Research Services category. The awards were presented at the Second Annual Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony on September 17.
Almanac Goes Digital
September 2008: COAPS Professor Emeritus James O'Brien was recently featured in a story on FSU Headlines Radio titled "Almanac Goes Digital". In the story, Dr. O'Brien explains how AgroClimate, a service of the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC), allows farmers and other agricultural decision makers to assess resource management options with respect to their probable outcomes under forecast climate conditions.
AgClimate is Now AgroClimate
September 2008: AgClimate, an interactive website with climate, agriculture, and forestry information, is now called AgroClimate. AgroClimate is a service of the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC), which is a coalition of seven member institutions, including FSU COAPS and the Florida Climate Center.
COAPS Director Receives Excellence in Partnering Award
August 2008: COAPS director Eric Chassignet has been recognized for his efforts to expand understanding of the world's oceans while collaborating with a broad range of major players in the oceanographic community.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, presented Dr. Chassignet with the National Oceanographic Partnership Program's Excellence in Partnering Award for his coordination of the U.S. Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment: Global Ocean Prediction with the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (U.S. GODAE HYCOM). The project brought together more than 25 universities, government agencies and representatives from the private sector to create real-time, three-dimensional depictions and predictions of ocean conditions. The award presentation took place during this year's Capitol Hill Oceans Week in June.
For more on this story, see the August 4, 2008, issue of FSU's STATE (p. 11).
COAPS Scientist Gives Timely Talk on Hurricanes
July 2008: COAPS scientist Tim LaRow spoke about "Hurricanes: Past, Present and Future" at a seminar for the general public on Thursday, July 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. at FSU's Coastal and Marine Laboratory on Highway 98 in St. Teresa.
Checking the Pulse of the Big Bend Gulf
May 2008: If all goes well, a brand-new array of sensing devices deployed off the shores of Franklin County soon will be firing back a solid stream of information that researchers, students and the public have never before had access to.
Scientists from COAPS, as well as FSU's Oceanography and Meteorology departments, are currently participating in a 5-year project to install an array of instruments in the Big Bend Gulf. These instruments will monitor the speed and direction of wind and currents, turbidity, salinity, water temperature, humidity and wave heights, and continually transmit data back to FSU's Coastal and Marine Laboratory. This project is part of a larger $6.3 million grant from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric administration to the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI), and will fill in long-standing gaps in the scientific knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico's northernmost perimeters.
(more on this story)
February 2008: In the current issue of the Florida Division of Emergency Management's Weather Report, Melissa Griffin, Assistant State Climatologist at COAPS, writes about Florida's temperature extremes. In a two page article, Melissa provides historical data about Florida's hottest and coldest temperatures, explains how heat and humidity affect the human body, and gives tips about staying safe in a variety of weather conditions.
Weather Report Article (PDF)
FSU Climate Office Seeks Volunteers for Statewide Rain Gauge Network
January 2008: TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Climate Center at Florida State University is looking for volunteers to help collect rainfall data across the state as part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, better known as CoCoRaHS.
The CoCoRaHS program started in Colorado in 1998 and has expanded to 27 states where more than 7,500 observers take daily measurements of rain, hail and snow, according to Melissa Griffin, coordinator of research programs and services at the Florida Climate Center and assistant state climatologist. She and Pat Welsh of the University of North Florida serve as CoCoRaHS co-coordinators for Florida. The non-profit organization stresses training and education and welcomes volunteers from all walks of life to take part in monitoring precipitation.
"This is a great chance for weather enthusiasts and average citizens to be part of a project that collects vital rainfall data," Griffin said. "The data is readily available to the general public and other organizations."
Volunteers use low-cost equipment and an interactive Web site to provide the highest quality data for natural resources, education and research applications. Climatologists, hydrologists, water resource managers and the National Weather Service are just some of the users of the high-density rainfall reports.
The Florida Climate Center, with support from the University of North Florida, has registered more than 500 volunteers since Oct. 1, but more observers are needed, according to Griffin.
"Official measuring stations across the state are sparse, and we often will miss rainfall due to the localized nature of our rains," she said. "With trained volunteers, CoCoRaHS helps fill these gaps and supply users with a better picture of the state's rainfall patterns."
For example, at the end of October 2007, a heavy rain hit parts of the Western Panhandle. CoCoRaHS observers in the area were able to submit their rainfall reports -- some of which were more than 12 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
"The rainfall reports were extremely helpful in verifying radar rainfall estimates across the Pensacola area during the event," said Jack Cullen, a forecaster with the Mobile National Weather Service office and a CoCoRaHS coordinator for the area. "This allowed us to better target the flash flood warnings."
Julie Terrell, director of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA), is excited about the opportunity to add additional rainfall reports to the long-term data that CBA volunteers are currently collecting.
"With the help of CoCoRaHS and its volunteers, CBA hopes to acquire valuable information that can help us better manage and protect water resources for years to come," Terrell said.
Other organizations use the data for flood control, agricultural needs, mosquito control and monitoring drought conditions.
"We are extremely pleased with the level of interest, enthusiasm and dedication from all of the CoCoRAHS volunteers across central and southwest Florida," said Colleen Rhea, data acquisition program manager at the National Weather Service Tampa Bay Office. "It's truly a grassroots effort that benefits anyone with a viable interest in weather data."
CoCoRaHS is nationally funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. Partners in Florida include the Office of the State Climatologist and the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at FSU and the Advanced Weather Information Systems Lab at UNF.
For more stories about FSU, visit our news site at www.fsu.com.
New Year Holds Potential for Damage to the Everglades
December 2007: In a recent Tampa Tribune article, David Zierden, State Climatologist at COAPS, discusses how this winter's La Niña could affect Florida's weather, which in turn could affect the Everglades. La Niña episodes typically bring drought to Florida, which could cut rainfall by 30 to 50 percent and keep winter temperatures 3 to 5 degrees above normal. If this happens, experts say the Everglades could experience dangerously low water levels, which can drive wildlife away from their habitats, and extremely dry conditions, which make vegetation more susceptible to forest fires.
Tampa Tribune Article (PDF)
Florida Consumers May Pay the Price if La Niña Develops
September 2007: The Southeast Climate Consortium has issued a La Niña watch. "It is very likely that it will be a La Niña," said David Zierden, State Climatologist at COAPS. Under La Niña conditions, sea surface temperatures along the equator in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean are a few degrees colder than normal for a minimum of five months, which typically causes warmer and drier winters in Florida. These conditions can be catostrophic for local farmers, who may need to pass their losses on to Florida consumers, and for the Florida agricultural market, since more produce may need to be imported from California.
Cool! Fall Has Arrived
September 2007: In a Tallahassee Democrat article on the recent cold spell, David Zierden, State Climatologist at COAPS, discusses how temperatures have changed in Tallahassee over the last 100 years. "A globally averaged temperature is a poor representation of the Earth's climate because there are so many regional differences," Zierden said, and records from Tallahassee actually show a one degree decline in average annual temperature. The article also discusses the effect of "heat islands" on temperature averages, and how the location of city airports (where official temperature measurements are usually made) correlate with temperature trends.
FSU joins alliance studying northern Gulf Coast
December 2006: Florida State University has joined a new cooperative institute that will work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the physics and ecosystem dynamics of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
The new Northern Gulf Institute will study coastal hazards, climate change, water quality, ecosystem management, coastal wetlands and pollution. Besides FSU, the consortium includes Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University and Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
(more on this story)
FSU, NOAA scientists: 'Trapped wave' caused unexpected Dennis surge
October 2006: When Hurricane Dennis passed North Florida on July 10, 2005, it caused a 10-foot storm surge in some areas - about 3 to 6 feet more than forecasters had predicted - that couldn't be explained only by the local winds that conventionally drive storm surge.
Now, scientists at Florida State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have found that the surge in Apalachee Bay was amplified by a "trapped wave" that originated off the South Florida coast. The discovery of this previously undocumented storm surge phenomenon has changed how NOAA's National Hurricane Center prepares storm surge models for the Gulf of Mexico. The new modeling technique will improve the accuracy of storm surge forecasts for the entire Gulf coast from Florida to Texas.
more on this story
FSU Gets $6.2 Million Grant to Build Hurricane Prediction Model
July 2006: Florida State University does not have a crystal ball, but it is developing a new tool that could possibly see the strength of future hurricane seasons.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded the 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... more on this story