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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642

URI Graduate School of Oceanography
Physical Oceanographer Awarded
$279,000 for Hurricane Research

Narragansett, R.I. -- August 28, 2003 -- University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) physical oceanographer Dr. Isaac Ginis has been awarded a $279,000 grant by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to further improve the computer hurricane forecasting model developed by GSO and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) at Princeton University that is now being used by the National Weather Service to forecast hurricanes in the Atlantic.

The two-year grant supports a program of work designed to further improve the GFDL/URI model and to carefully evaluate the improvements for possible operational implementation during the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons. In addition, the URI model will be introduced into the operational GFDL model used for hurricane forecasting in the East Pacific. The URI component of the computer model takes ocean dynamics into account to improve the forecasting of hurricane intensity.

"This grant will allow us to continue our research efforts toward improving the operational hurricane forecast system," said Ginis. "It will be conducted in active collaboration with NOAA scientists, building directly upon our successful joint research program.

"Our main goal in this project," continued Ginis, "is to better understand and describe in our hurricane forecast model the physical processes causing the extreme winds and heavy rain that lead to death and to damage amounting to $5 billion annually in the United States."

Several years ago, Ginis and his Narragansett Bay Campus colleagues, including physical oceanographer Lewis Rothstein, developed a computer model that more accurately predicts the intensity of hurricanes. This model was coupled with the operational GFDL hurricane model. The coupled model provided a more efficient set of predictors that take into consideration the effects of atmosphere-ocean interaction during storms and more accurate predictions of storm intensity. In 2000, the coupled model became an operational part of NOAA’s suite of tools used to more accurately forecast hurricanes.

A resident of Exeter, Ginis came to the URI Graduate School of Oceanography as a marine scientist in 1993. He was promoted to associate professor of oceanography in 1998 and full professor in 2003. A native of Russia, he received his Ph.D. in geophysics from the Institute of Experimental Meteorology in Obninsk. He has developed several numerical modeling courses for URI that cover various numerical methods applied for solving the fundamental equations governing atmospheric and oceanic motions, marine geophysics, and biophysics.

Last year, Ginis was named a "2002 Environmental Hero" by NOAA in recognition of his contributions in the field of hurricane forecast research. This past January Ginis was one of a group of researchers presented with the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) Excellence in Partnering Award for his work on the Coastal Marine Demonstration Project.

The GSO is one of the country's largest marine science education programs, and one of the world's foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, RI, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, harmful algal blooms, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, and the National Sea Grant Library.

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Page last revised Tuesday, September 2, 2003 .