Risk Assessment

COAPS has a special area of research in risk assessment in the categories of storm surge, freeze forecasting, and fire weather. COAPS is developing new methods to predict the amount of storm surge that will hit the Gulf Coast during a storm that can be very destructive for coastal property. COAPS has played a central role in the research of climate variability related to the ENSO.

The center is involved in the Southeast Climate Consortium and has developed variability and forecast tools applicable to agricultural interests in the southeastern United States. These tools are centered on shifts in the traditional climate variables (monthly averaged temperature and precipitation), but also on extreme events such as droughts, severe weather, hurricanes, and damaging freezes. Through an examination of historical freeze events in central and south Florida, COAPS has revealed a strong connection between ENSO and the occurrence of damaging freezes. Specifically, the severe or damaging freezes tend to occur during the neutral ENSO phase and are much less likely during El Niño or La Niña.

Based on the analysis of more than 50 years of historical weather observations, COAPS makes available a probabilistic freeze forecast for the winter season which is released every fall, based on the state of the tropical Pacific Ocean. The forecast is widely disseminated; it is available online on agclimate.org, is published in agricultural newsletters and publications, and is also presented at winter weather workshops throughout the state. Going to the opposite extreme, COAPS has cooperated with the Florida Division of

Forestry in research projects to identify the connection between ENSO and wildfire burn acreage in Florida. As an extension and continuation of that research, COAPS, funded by the Florida Division of Forestry and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, has developed a prototype wildfire risk forecast system for Florida and the Southeast.

COAPS is also active in satellite studies of the ocean and atmospheric variability. It uses weather radar observations and scatterometers, which estimate near-surface wind speed and direction, as well as surface stress. COAPS also employs a wide variety of instruments to measure wind speed and sea surface temperature.

SEE ALSO: Climate Models; Climatic Data, Atmospheric Observations; Climatic Data, Oceanic Observations; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Ocean Component of Models.

BIBLIOGRApHY. Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, www.coaps.fsu.edu (cited October 2007); Michael A. Toman and Brent Sohngen, Climate Change (Ashgate Publishing, 2004).

LuCA PRONO University of Nottingham

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