Hurricane Dorian: U-M experts available
Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and is now crawling toward the southeastern United States. Though the storm’s peak winds have dropped since the weekend, when it was a Category 5, the hurricane has grown in size. University of Michigan experts are available to discuss the storm and related topics.
Ángel F. Adames-Corraliza studies tropical meteorology as an assistant professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering. He can discuss Dorian and hurricanes in general, as well as why the track forecast in this case is especially difficult and critical.
“The critical thing about Dorian’s movement is its slow motion over such a long span of time—48+ hours of near-stall. If the models are wrong with its motion by 1 mph, then the forecast will have an error in Dorian’s location by 48 miles. This can be the difference between landfall and staying offshore. So we are talking about small errors with large consequences,” he said.
“This near stalling of Dorian is a tough situation. Initially, Dorian was being steered by a high pressure in the Atlantic. Over the last few days, the high pressure weakened and drifted east, while another high moved over the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico region. As Dorian moved into the Bahamas, it essentially got pinched between two high-pressure systems. The spot where Dorian ended up is where the steering from the two highs cancels out, much like when two currents meet there’s a point of no movement in the middle. A small error in the forecast amplitude of these highs will yield a small drift in Dorian. Add to this a hurricane’s tendency to wobble around, and you have a situation where small errors in the forecast can have major consequences.
“The hurricane is resuming movement today because of a large trough that is dipping into the east coast. This trough will break the standstill by weakening the one in the U.S. and gulf. It will also help steer Dorian northward and then northeastward, hopefully sparing the U.S. of a landfall. The potential for error is still there and a landfall in the Carolinas is not out of the question.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @afadames
Jacob Allgeier is an ecologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He leads an experiment on hard-hit Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas to study how nutrients from fish excretion affect the growth and productivity of seagrasses and coral. The study involves artificial reefs built from cinder blocks and held together with epoxy.
“I have a small research station down there that is likely trashed. The artificial reefs may or may not withstand these storms. It all depends on the direction of the storm surge,” Allgeier said Tuesday. “I do not know much about the storm’s effects, other than I have many friends on the island that have lost their houses.”
Allgeier wants to know how nutrients from fish excretion differ from nutrients generated by humans in crop fertilizers and sewage.
“An overarching objective is to try to understand how these artificial reefs may be a useful tool for fisheries restoration—research that we are trying to apply in Haiti,” he said.
Contact: email@example.com, 734-764-6797, jacoballgeier.com
Jonathan Overpeck is dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability. He is a climate scientist who is an expert on climate and weather extremes, sea-level rise, and impacts of climate change and options for dealing with it.
“Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures serve to drive faster development of more intense storms,” he said. “Our warming atmosphere allows the air and storms to hold more water, increasing the risk of more intense rainfall. These factors, plus the clear rise in sea level that is already significant and ongoing, means more likely wind damage and flooding than in the past.
“Continued burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions will mean more risk from devastating tropical storms and hurricanes in the future.”
Contact: 520-369-0117 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Anne Bell, assistant professor at the School of Nursing, is particularly interested in the long-term health effects of disasters, in developing policy that protects and promotes health throughout the disaster management cycle, and in the relationship between community resilience, health disparities and disasters.
Contact: 734-647-0341, email@example.com
Joseph Eisenberg, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, is an expert on infectious disease epidemiology and has 20 years of experience in microbial risk-assessment work focused on water quality. He is part of a group of scientists from around the country involved with the Modeling Infectious Disease Agents Study, an NIH-funded program that focuses on infectious disease transmission modeling with a particular focus on waterborne pathogens.
Contact: 734-764-5435, firstname.lastname@example.org