Becoming a Geographer: Leveraging Space

June 13, 2016

I got interested in hurricanes after coming to FSU. It made sense. Snowstorms were fun in Milwaukee as a kid, but I couldn’t expect students from Florida to have much interest in them. Hurricanes are the rage. In fact it was one of my first graduate students who suggested we try to improve Bill Gray’s forecasts. I made a career putting hurricane prediction on firm statistical grounds. But it wasn’t until I moved to geography that I learned how to leverage space to predict hurricane behavior. While meteorologists ponder the behavior of weather systems as they evolve over time (since this relates directly to dynamics), geographers think spatially. Spatial thinking allowed me to quantify the sensitivity of hurricane intensity to ocean heat, an important physical constraint that can’t be estimated from short time records. Read more…