About two years ago, Brian Haus, the chair of the Division of Applied Marine Physics at the University of Miami, was studying storms in the western Pacific ocean, off the coast of Taiwan. He and his team are chasing hurricanes. Sometimes the hurricanes completely miss the sensor-packed buoys placed in their path to track power and speed. Sometimes they don't.
This time, the researchers got lucky. Not one, but two super typhoons hit their equipment at the same time. Even luckier, most of their gear managed to not break apart. He and his team waited for the storms to subside before they left port to retrieve their recording devices. But before they could recover the buoys, one storm, named Chaba, defied the forecasts. Instead of losing strength, it headed right for them at full power. Haus and his fellow researchers found themselves enduring nine days of "most uncomfortable" 30-foot swells.
Last month, the University of Miami broke ground on the 45-million-dollar Marine Technology & Life Sciences Seawater Complex, which will house a tool that will give Haus and other scientists studying storms more steady, predictable, and controllable access to an important resource in their work--the hurricanes themselves.