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Chris Alston, a senior at Rutgers University studying meteorology, spent a summer at CMMAP this year studying hurricane activity along the northeast coast from Virginia to Maine during the years 1950 to 2009 with guidance from Professor Wayne Schubert.

Historically, major hurricanes having tremendous impacts have made landfall in this geographical area.  Given that hurricane activity occurs much less frequently poleward of 35deg, not much research has been done to analyze the link between climate factors and hurricane activity from Virginia to Maine. Chris' study analyzed climate factors such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), sea surface temperature (SST) profiles, and El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as well as large-scale synoptic weather conditions, with the goal of improving understanding of hurricane activity in the northeastern U.S.

Hurricanes involve small scale mesoscale motions and physical processes, but the mechanisms that steer these storms occur on the synoptic scale. The results suggest that the NAO and general synoptic flow have a significant correlation to landfalling hurricanes along the northeast coast.  Ascertaining a better understanding of climate factors that affect hurricane activity from Virginia to Maine could have a significant impact on preventive measures and improving methods for modeling, thus decreasing the loss of life and property. 

Chris' summer research poster, The Influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Hurricane Landfalls from Virginia to Maine, may be downloaded here (5MB PDF). Chris' other research interests include mid-latitude cyclones, Nor'eastors, severe convective storms, and Tropical Cyclones (particularly in the northeast).

When not engaged in his studies, Chris enjoys composing music, racquetball, traveling the world, movies, and most recreational activities.