Zooniverse: Cyclone Center

Zooniverse: Cyclone Center
Damage caused to a gas station in Kissimmee, Fla., by Hurricane Charley.
  Image: Courtesy of DearCatastropheWaitress, via

To recognize the official start of the hurricane season in the North Atlantic (June 1), Cyclone Center is focusing on four hurricanes that all struck Florida 10 years ago in 2004: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. These storms claimed 34 lives and caused $18.9 billion in damages. We can't prevent these disasters from happening, but citizen scientists can help researchers understand them better. is a Web-based interface that enables the public to help analyze the intensities of past tropical cyclones around the globe. The climatology of tropical cyclones is limited by uncertainties in the historical record. Patterns in storms imagery are best recognized by the human eye, so researchers need help from citizen scientists in analyzing these storms.

Project Details

  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Data Processing
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

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What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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