URI’s Isaac Ginis uses computer modeling to predict the power of storms

Media Contact: Dawn Bergantino, 401-874-4147 |

Predicting the severity of a hurricane can mean the difference between life and death. URI Professor of Oceanography Isaac Ginis makes it his business to predict the power of these ferocious storms with a computer model so successful it was adopted by the National Weather Service. As one of the few scientists worldwide to show the role the ocean plays in hurricanes, Ginis essentially proved that ocean temperature is the most important factor in hurricane intensity and power.

Ginis’s research efforts have resulted in pioneering advances in modeling of the tropical cyclone-ocean interactions that have led to significant improvements in hurricane intensity forecast skills.

His research group has contributed to the development of the Hurricane Weather Research Forecast model used by the U.S. National Hurricane Center and Joint Typhoon Warning Center for operational forecasting of tropical cyclones in all ocean basins. He is currently leading a project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop advanced modeling capabilities for more accurate representation of hurricane hazards and impacts in Southern New England. One of the scenarios he and his team have worked on, “Hurricane Ram,” simulates the effect of a Category 3 hurricane making landfall in Rhode Island. The project allows DHS and other agencies to better understand the consequences of coastal and inland hazards associated with extreme hurricanes and Nor’easters and to better prepare coastal communities for future risks.

Among other things, Ginis can speak to how changes in global climate are playing a role in the increased level of activity in the Atlantic this hurricane season. According to Ginis, “We have seen active hurricanes seasons in the past. The most active was 2005, producing 28 tropical cyclones, of which 15 became hurricanes. This season, however, has broken the record for the earliest formation by storm number and the most active tropical cyclone activity in September thus far.”

To schedule an interview, contact: 

Dawn Bergantino, dawn_bergantino@uri.edu or 401-874-4147.