Tools that Inspire
We love to talk about our science with the public. AOML is an active member of the scientific outreach community in Miami. We provide educational resources to learn about hurricane, coastal, and climate science. We also participate in events throughout the community. Our teaching resources bring the lab right to your classroom- virtual lab walkthroughs, field guides, and classroom activities all at your fingertips.
Tools that Inspire
We love to talk about our science with the public. AOML is an active member of the scientific outreach community in Miami, and we provide educational resources to learn about hurricane, coastal, and climate science. We also participate in events throughout the community. Our teaching resources bring the lab right to your classroom. Virtual lab walkthroughs, field guides, and classroom activities all at your fingertips.
Be Prepared for Hurricane Season
Open House Notice
We will hold the Miami NOAA Open House in the fall of 2020. Check this site for updates and new date.
Engage with Us!
AOML is a proud part of the community of South Florida. We frequently participate at local events to provide education about what we do. Check out our outreach photos to see events we’ve hosted, and look below for news on events and opportunities.
NOAA works closely with universities and schools to provide great learning experiences for students. AOML participates in hosting students through NOAA. Check out NOAA’s page below to learn more about what they offer.
Hollings scholars Emily Paltz and Rani Wiggins visit the new Aircraft Operations Center at Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, FL. Image credit: NOAA.
Looking for an expert in a particular topic? AOML provides information from experts in their field for these major thematic areas:
- Oceans & Weather
- Ocean Circulation
- Ocean Observing Systems
- Physical Oceanography
- Ocean Engineering
- NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters
- Hurricane Modeling
- Ocean Carbon
- Ocean Acidification
- Coastal Marine Ecosystems
- Coral Reef Ecosystems
To speak with an expert, contact Erica Rule, Director of Communications.
Director of Communications
Download Subject-Based PDF Flyers
Frequently Asked Questions about Hurricanes
Why Don't Nuclear Weapons Destroy Hurricanes?
Radioactive fallout from such an operation would far outweigh the benefits and may not alter the storm. Additionally, the amount of energy that a storm produces far outweighs the energy produced by one nuclear weapon.
How Much Energy is Released from a Hurricane?
The energy released from a hurricane can be explained in two ways: the total amount of energy released by the condensation of water droplets (latent heat), or the amount of kinetic energy generated to maintain the strong, swirling winds of a hurricane. The vast majority of the latent heat released is used to drive the convection of a storm, but the total energy released from condensation is 200 times the world-wide electrical generating capacity, or 6.0 x 1014 watts per day. If you measure the total kinetic energy instead, it comes out to about 1.5 x 1012 watts per day, or ½ of the world-wide electrical generating capacity. It would seem that although wind energy seems the most obvious energetic process, it is actually the latent release of heat that feeds a hurricane’s momentum.
What Causes Tropical Cyclones?
In addition to hurricane-favorable conditions such as temperature and humidity, many repeating atmospheric phenomenon contribute to causing and intensifying tropical cyclones. For example, African Easterly Waves are winds in the lower troposphere (ocean surface to 3 miles above) that travel from Africa at speeds of about 3mph westward as a result of the African Easterly Jet. These winds are seen from April until November. About 85% of intense hurricanes and about 60% of smaller storms have their origin in African Easterly waves.
The Saharan Air Layer is another significant seeding phenomenon for tropical storms. It is a mass of dry, mineral-rich, dusty air that forms over the Sahara from late spring to early fall and moves over the tropical North Atlantic every 3-5 days at speeds of 22-55mph (10-25 meters per second). The air mass is 1-2 miles deep, exists in the lower troposphere, and can be as wide as the continental US. These air masses have significant moderating impacts on tropical cyclone intensity and formation because the dry, intense air can both deprive the storm of moisture and interfere with its convection by increasing the wind shear.
Many tropical cyclones form due to these larger scale atmospheric factors. Hurricanes that form fairly close in our basin are called Cape Verde hurricanes, named for the location where they are formed. Cape Verde origin hurricanes can be up to five per year, with an average of around two.
Why are Tropical Cyclones always Worse on the Right Side?
If a hurricane is moving to the west, the right side would be to the north of the storm, if it is heading north, then the right side would be to the east of the storm. The movement of a hurricane can be broken into two parts- the spiral movement and its forward movement. If the hurricane is moving forward, the side of the spiral with winds parallel and facing forward in the direction of movement will go faster, because you are adding two velocities together. The side of the spiral parallel to the movement, but going in the opposite direction will be slower, because you must subtract the velocity moving away (backwards) from the forward velocity.
For example, a hurricane with 90mph winds moving at 10mph would have a 100mph wind speed on the right (forward-moving) side and 80 mph on the side with the backward motion.
How are Hurricanes Named?
During the 19th century, hurricane names were inspired by everything from saints to wives to unpopular politicians. In 1978, it was agreed that the National Hurricane Center would use alternating men and women’s names following the practice adopted by Australia’s bureau of Meteorology three years earlier in 1975.
Today, a list of potential names is published by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization for the Atlantic basin. These names extend into 2023, and the list repeats every seventh year. If a particularly damaging storm occurs, the name of that storm is retired. Storms retired in 2017 include Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. If there are more storms than names on the list in a given season, the National Hurricane Center will name them using the Greek alphabet. Lastly, if a storm happens to move across basins, it keeps the original name. The only time it is renamed if it dissipates to a tropical disturbance and reforms.
The CLEO Project
The Coral Literature, Education and Outreach (CLEO) project is a set of Educational Modules that have have been developed primarily for middle school classes. Each module consists of three segments: background information (science behind the instrument), classroom experiment (experiment to test parameter instrument measures), and teacher’s section (describes the Educational Objectives / National Science Standards, Preliminary Activities / Demonstrations, Suggestions for teaching the concept, and Follow-up or Extension Activities for the class).
Visit the photo gallery for images relating to our field work, events, and research subjects over the years.
The Miami area is a fast-growing urban environment in close proximity to fragile coastal ecosystems in particular, Biscayne Bay. To help those that live on and near the bay learn about its many biological, chemical, and physical characteristics, the local Key Biscayne newspaper, The Islander, teamed up with the Virginia Key Science Community to produce this educational series. This series, named “Biscayne Bubbles” was originally published on a weekly basis in the The Islander and is now available to view online.
“Biscayne Bubbles” introduces local biota and an overview of the local research conducted by NOAA, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and Florida Sea Grant.
To view the Bubbles, mouse over each one and click to see the PDF.