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"Into the Eye: Hurricanes"Exhibit at the Pier Aquarium in St. Petersburg, Fla., Features USGS Science
While the 2005 hurricane season continued to set new records, the Pier Aquarium in St. Petersburg, Fla., unveiled a new hurricane exhibit highlighting U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science. The St. Petersburg Pier Aquarium collaborated with the USGS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to design and create an educational exhibit that would bring the science of hurricanes to the general public. The USGS took the lead in coordinating the effort of developing the exhibit, titled "Into the Eye: Hurricanes."
USGS hydrologist Ann Tihansky worked with Pier Aquarium project manager Kristy Ultimo and NOAA's Michael Henderson to determine the scope and content of the exhibit. Ultimo wanted an exhibit that would raise public awareness about the science behind understanding hurricanes. "The press does a really good job showing the destruction, but we want to give people an understanding about what actually causes the destruction, how we measure hurricanes as they develop, and the physical changes that take place in our coastlines as they pass," said Ultimo.
Michael Henderson, NOAA's regional coordinator for Tampa Bay, said: "NOAA is glad to be working with the USGS and the Pier Aquarium on this exhibit. We are especially glad to help in educating the public about hurricanes in general, but we're also proud of the collaboration among our partners in the Tampa Bay area."
"Into the Eye: Hurricanes" examines several basic categories of hurricane science:
The exhibit relies primarily on graphics rather than text. Once the group agreed on scientific content, the challenges were to (1) decide which of all the excellent graphic images to use and (2) ensure that the text was both succinct and accurate. A dramatic NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Frances was used for the large (6 by 8 ft) title panel. USGS science support staff Betsy Boynton and Laurinda Travers created colorful, eye-catching graphics that illustrate many complex concepts. The exhibit also runs a loop of three USGS videos highlighting hurricane science and coastal impacts: Hurricane Force, Exploring Storm Surge, and Anatomy of a Hurricane.
Howard Rutherford, executive director of the Pier Aquarium, was pleased to see local science reach the general public. "More than 1.5 million people visit the Pier annually, providing a large audience for our facility. We wanted a hurricane exhibit that would be unique and would highlight science being done in our backyard. Both the USGS and NOAA are located here in the Tampa Bay area, and we wanted to provide an opportunity to highlight their work. We've worked with both groups before and knew they could make hurricane-related science exciting and relevant. The nice thing about this exhibit is that it has been created in such a way that we can update panels and keep it current. While we were working on it, we kept reminiscing about the furor of 2004; then the 2005 season kind of blew that all away. We were also able to complement this exhibit with an educational hurricane poster created in partnership with the Florida Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence [COSEE-FL] and the SouthEast U.S. Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System [SEACOOS]."
Tucked into the Pier Aquarium among tanks and interactive displays, the hurricane exhibit has been a focus for school field trips and a backdrop for hurricane-related press interviews, and it was visited by USGS scientists attending a Gulf Coast science workshop held at the Pier in January 2006.
in this issue:
Hurricane Exhibit Highlights USGS Science
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