Why did the hurricane do that? Interrogating hurricane evolution with open-source tools

Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
9:30 am on Thursday, March 17, 2022
Available via zoom and in-person in Harshbarger 110
Contact the department for zoom details or to subscribe to the email list
Kimberly Wood
HAS Alumna & Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University


Tropical cyclones (TCs), commonly referred to as hurricanes in the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific, are scientifically fascinating storms capable of socioeconomic and environmental devastation. Our understanding and ability to monitor hurricane behavior has greatly improved over the past few decades through advances in knowledge and through technological improvements: more frequent observations reveal faster-acting phenomena, and higher spatial resolution captures impacts of physical processes at increasingly smaller scales. However, the rapid growth of available data brings its own challenges with respect to storage, processing, analysis, and real-time interpretation.

An expanding number of Python tools—crafted by and for the geosciences community—enables us to take full advantage of these datasets, many of which can be accessed through the cloud and thus avoid consuming local storage space. In this presentation, I will demonstrate the application of these tools to basin-scale analyses of environmental conditions to quantify variability in North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific TC activity. I will also dissect individual TCs within a storm-centered framework using aircraft, satellite, reanalysis, and ocean data to explain their evolution, including high-impact cases from recent hurricane seasons. To support further scientific inquiry of and beyond TCs, I will describe my workflow, name the Python packages integral to these analyses, and link to example scripts to provide a starting point for other scientists to potentially apply such tools to their own work.

Image Kim Wood MSU Tropical Cyclone

Storm-centered GOES-16 infrared (Band 13) image of Hurricane Ida approaching landfall in Louisiana on 29 August 2021. The black circle denotes a distance ~600 km from the operational best-track center.


Dr. Kim Wood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University specializing in tropical meteorology. She obtained her Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona in 2012. She has participated in two field campaigns (Tropical Cyclone Structure-2008 and Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes in 2010) as well as two international workshops (International Workshop on Extratropical Transition in 2012 and International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones in 2014). Wood has published and presented on research that includes land impacts of tropical cyclones in the eastern North Pacific basin, extratropical transition of tropical cyclones, satellite-derived estimates of tropical cyclone genesis and intensity, and quantification of environmental factors that affect tropical cyclone structure and intensity. She is currently pursuing research related to tropical climatology, land impacts of tropical cyclones, and tropical-extratropical interaction events. Kimberly Wood CV

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