Hurricanes: Science and Society (HSS)

Key Inner Space Center Staff involved with Hurricanes: Science and Society:

  • Gail Scowcroft, Principal Investigator (PI)  and Project Director
  • Chris Knowlton, Marine Research Associate
  • Holly Morin, Marine Research Associate

Recent hurricanes and damage from disasters such as Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Sandy (2012) exemplify the continued need for education that integrates current scientific understanding. Major goals of Hurricanes: Science and Society (HSS) project are to provide foundational science for understanding complex scientific content, inform visitors about current scientific and technological advances, and to help visitors make good decisions prior to and during a hurricane emergency. The HSS website provides information on the science of hurricanes, methods of observing hurricanes, modeling and forecasting of hurricanes, how hurricanes impact society, and how people and communities can prepare for and mitigate the impacts of hurricanes. There is also a hurricane history interactive, hurricane case studies, and a special section for educators. Information presented on the HSS website is based solely on published scientific research and is a result of the Hurricanes: Science and Society project. All content has undergone thorough peer review by a panel of scientific experts. A core advisory team was led by URI/GSO physical oceanographer, Dr. Isaac Ginis, who has pioneered research on the interaction of hurricanes with the ocean and is responsible for maintaining and improving the ocean components of the tropical cyclone models that are used by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center for operational forecasting in all ocean basins.

The HSS website contains information tailored for specific audiences including policy makers, emergency management officials, middle school through undergraduate educators and students, the general public, and the media. This multi-disciplinary tool has been developed through a successful collaboration model that brought together scientists, forecasters, education and outreach professionals, and the participation of formal and informal science educators. In addition to the website, a short booklet containing the essentials from the website was produced as well as an interactive iBook. Lastly, the Hurricanes: Science and Society webinar series has been successfully implemented in partnership with the NHC and NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center (AOC). The purpose of the Hurricane Webinars is to raise awareness about hurricanes in advance of the North Atlantic hurricane season. Over 35,000 students, from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast Atlantic, have participated in these webinars over the last 5 years.

The HSS website and its associated educational resources have been developed by the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO). Funding for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation (under Grant Number DRL-0813557).  Many other people contributed to the development of the HSS project and its affiliated resources, including independent scientific reviewers and 14 middle and high school teachers.

ISC Staff Holly Morin and Chris Knowlton receive the National Hurricane Conference Special Act Award during the April 2017 National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, LA.

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