In their study, FSU meteorologists Xiaolei Zou and Yonghui Wu found that variations of ozone levels from the surface of the ocean to the upper atmosphere are closely related to the formation, intensification and movement of a hurricane. In studying meteorological data from 12 such storms, Zou and Wu noticed that over an area of 100 miles, the area surrounding each hurricane typically had low levels of ozone from the surface to the top of the storm. Whenever the hurricane intensified, the ozone levels throughout the storm decreased even more.
In addition, when Zou and Wu examined hurricanes using the ozone data, the eye of the storms became very clear. Because forecasters always try to pinpoint the eye of the hurricane, this knowledge will help with locating a storm's exact position and possibly lead to better tracking.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center (NHC) is the agency that issues hurricane forecasts. Of the 12 storms analyzed, the ozone data and the NHC official report differed on the mean distance between the estimated eye by less than 18 miles during the most intense stage of the storms. When Zou and Wu added the satellite-observed ozone levels around a hurricane into a computer forecast model, the model greatly improved the predicted track that the hurricane would take.
"This research highlights the benefits of Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) data in hurricane track and intensity prediction, an important forecasting problem since hurricanes often strike regions of high population and property growth, resulting in large natural disasters," sai