A NASA climate model re-created an extraordinary season of storms.
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season smashed records with 28 named storms, four Category 5 hurricanes (including Wilma, the all-time strongest), and the costliest U.S. natural disaster (Katrina). A NASA Goddard climate model called GEOS-5 revisited the season as part of a gigantic two-year simulation to better understand the processes of weather and climate. Seeded with observed sea surface temperatures—a key driver of hurricane formation—the model simulated weather events worldwide. One of the highest resolutions to date for a full-Earth model was used to run the simulation, taxing Goddard's Discover supercomputer for weeks. In total, the model spawned 23 Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms during 2005—an impressive comparison to the actual number observed—and demonstrated an increased ability to model how these volatile cyclones change intensity as they evolve. The visualization shows simulated storms for September 2005 emerging and churning across the North Atlantic.