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City University London wins scientific impact award for hurricane research

City's giCentre has won four awards at a key data visualization conference, including one for the scientific impact of its research.
by Luke Nava

Researchers at City University London's giCentre have won an award recognising the scientific impact of their tool, which visually analyses centuries of global storm activity and helps insurers assess the financial impact of atmospheric risk and the effect of climate change on it.

The Making Hurricane Tracks Accessible research provides easy access to thousands of simulated storm tracks, generated over hundreds of years, enabling climate scientists to validate and interpret their climate data more easily and disseminate information to the insurance industry.

The research was conducted by Dr Aidan Slingsby, Professor Jason Dykes and Dr Jo Wood at City, with colleagues at the University of Reading's National Centre of Climate Science and the Willis Research Network (WRN). This collaboration between academia and the insurance industry, focuses on evaluating the frequency, severity and impact of major catastrophes.

The tool was honoured with the Discovery Award at IEEE VisWeek 2010 - the world's leading data visualization conference, at which the giCentre also received three other prizes for its work.

"Data visualization enables researchers to look at information in new ways and uncover previously unnoticed trends. We're delighted that our work, which aims to help scientists and insurers better understand today's climate and the risks it poses, has been recognised in this way." 

Dr Slingsby, Willis Research Fellow, City University London

"The communication of complex hazard and risk information is an increasingly critical part of insurers' decision-making process. Tools such as those being developed at City with our research partners are advancing the application of state-of-the-art technologies and the integration of world-leading science and risk management."

Matthew Foote, Research Director, WRN

The tool consists of a zoomable world map, which allows users to vary the speed and time upon which storm tracks are displayed and study weather patterns at different scales from days to decades. Important characteristics of wind speed, storm rotation and mean sea surface pressure can be queried at any position along the track. At any time, track formation and evolution can be captured as a video clip animation.

More information about the award and other visualization impact stories can be found at www.discoveryexhibition.org.

A video demonstration of the tool can is available at www.vimeo.com/15802514.

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