Presented by Valerie Trouet.
Hurricanes will become more and more destructive and costly in the 21st century with more densely populated coastal areas, with sea level rise, and with stronger storm surges. To better predict future changes in hurricane activity at the regional scale (e.g., for the Florida Keys), we need better insight into past hurricane dynamics.
For this purpose, Valerie's team has combined a dataset of Spanish shipwrecks in the Caribbean with tree-ring data from the Florida Keys. Pines on the Florida Keys respond to hurricanes with bands of narrow tree rings. The team discovered that the trees also showed these narrow rings during years when many ships wrecked, and we thus found a way to extend the Caribbean hurricane record back to the year 1495.
In Valerie's presentation, she will discuss how her team came up with this idea, how they did it, what they found, and why it is important.