Nowadays, we can anticipate where and when a tropical cyclone will hit land thanks to precision forecasts enabled by powerful computers and high-tech observational tools. But long ago, the most powerful storms in the world struck coastal dwellers by surprise. How did we learn to predict these tempests? Forecast: Tropical Cyclone, a new movie developed for Science On a Sphere (SOS)® by the American Museum of Natural History, chronicles the history and science of tropical cyclone prediction.
Forecast: Tropical Cyclone takes sphere-watchers on a journey through time and technology, beginning with early storm observations from Caribbean shores and the decks of schooners through the modern age of computer modeling. Along the way, dynamic narration, visualized data, and animation explain how people came to observe and understand the patterns of hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones–collectively known as tropical cyclones. The movie also reveals the inner workings of these storms and deconstructs how computer models work to predict them.
Forecast: Tropical Cyclone was produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City as part of the SOS Ocean-Atmosphere Partnership, a collaboration between AMNH, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Maryland Science Center, and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The movie is 8 minutes, 19 seconds long. Visit The Flow: Currents and Climate to download a second movie produced for the SOS Ocean-Atmosphere Partnership by the Science Museum of Minnesota.
To support the movie, AMNH has also prepared a description of datasets depicted as well as useful resources on tropical cyclones and computer modeling. Additionally, the Maryland Science Center has developed two live SOS shows
for docents to engage audiences with the content of Forecast: Tropical
Cyclone. The shows employ props and additional imagery and datasets. You
will find the scripts and related resources at the following links:
C1 Patterns. Students identify similarities and differences in order to sort and classify natural objects and designed products. They identify patterns related to time, including simple rates of change and cycles, and to use these patterns to make predictions.
C4 Systems and System Models. Students understand that a system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot. They can also describe a system in terms of its components and their interactions.
C1 Patterns. Students recognize that macroscopic patterns are related to the nature of microscopic and atomic-level structure. They identify patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships that provide information about natural and human designed systems. They use patterns to identify cause and effect relationships, and use graphs and charts to identify patterns in data.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students classify relationships as causal or correlational, and recognize that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. They use cause and effect relationships to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. They also understand that phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can understand that systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. They can use models to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. They can also learn that models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes. They also learn within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.
C1 Patterns. Students observe patterns in systems at different scales and cite patterns as empirical evidence for causality in supporting their explanations of phenomena. They recognize classifications or explanations used at one scale may not be useful or need revision using a different scale; thus requiring improved investigations and experiments. They use mathematical representations to identify certain patterns and analyze patterns of performance in order to re-engineer and improve a designed system.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students understand that empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and to make claims about specific causes and effects. They suggest cause and effect relationships to explain and predict behaviors in complex natural and designed systems. They also propose causal relationships by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. They recognize changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can investigate or analyze a system by defining its boundaries and initial conditions, as well as its inputs and outputs. They can use models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) to simulate the flow of energy, matter, and interactions within and between systems at different scales. They can also use models and simulations to predict the behavior of a system, and recognize that these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in the models. They can also design systems to do specific tasks.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn that the total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. They can describe changes of energy and matter in a system in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. They also learn that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems. In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved.
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems. Four major Earth systems interact. Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller pieces and move them around
ESS2.C The Roles of Water in Earth's Processes. Most of Earth’s water is in the ocean and much of the Earth’s fresh water is in glaciers or underground.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. A variety of hazards result from natural processes; humans cannot eliminate hazards but can reduce their impacts.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change. If Earth’s global mean temperature continues to rise, the lives of humans and other organisms will be affected in many different ways.
PS4.C Information Technologies and Instrumentation. Patterns can encode, send, receive and decode information.
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems. Energy flows and matter cycles within and among Earth’s systems, including the sun and Earth’s interior as primary energy sources. Plate tectonics is one result of these processes.
ESS2.C The Roles of Water in Earth's Processes. Water cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere, and is propelled by sunlight and gravity. Density variations of sea water drive interconnected ocean currents. Water movement causes weathering and erosion, changing landscape features.
ESS2.D Weather & Climate. Complex interactions determine local weather patterns and influence climate, including the role of the ocean.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region and understanding related geological forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and severe weather.
ESS3.C Human Impact on Earth systems. Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change. Human activities affect global warming. Decisions to reduce the impact of global warming depend on understanding climate science, engineering capabilities, and social dynamics.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. The role of the mass of an object must be qualitatively accounted for in any change of motion due to the application of a force.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Kinetic energy can be distinguished from the various forms of potential energy. Energy changes to and from each type can be tracked through physical or chemical interactions. The relationship between the temperature and the total energy of a system depends on the types, states, and amounts of matter.
PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces. When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other, and these forces can transfer energy between them.
PS4.C Information Technologies and Instrumentation. Waves can be used to transmit digital information. Digitized information is comprised of a pattern of 1s and 0s.
ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems. Feedback effects exist within and among Earth’s systems.The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities.
ESS2.C The Roles of Water in Earth's Processes. The planet’s dynamics are greatly influenced by water’s unique chemical and physical properties.
ESS2.D Weather & Climate. The role of radiation from the sun and its interactions with the atmosphere, ocean, and land are the foundation for the global climate system. Global climate models are used to predict future changes, including changes influenced by human behavior and natural factors
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales. Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.
ESS3.C Human Impact on Earth systems. Sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources, including the development of technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change. Global climate models used to predict changes continue to be improved, although discoveries about the global climate system are ongoing and continually needed.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. Newton’s 2nd law (F=ma) and the conservation of momentum can be used to predict changes in the motion of macroscopic objects.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. The total energy within a system is conserved. Energy transfer within and between systems can be described and predicted in terms of energy associated with the motion or configuration of particles (objects).
PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces. Fields contain energy that depends on the arrangement of the objects in the field.
PS4.A Wave Properties. The wavelength and frequency of a wave are related to one another by the speed of the wave, which depends on the type of wave and the medium through which it is passing. Waves can be used to transmit information and energy.
PS4.B Electromagnetic Radiation. Both an electromagnetic wave model and a photon model explain features of electromagnetic radiation broadly and describe common applications of electromagnetic radiation.
PS4.C Information Technologies and Instrumentation. Large amounts of information can be stored and shipped around as a result of being digitized.