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Harvard Forest Data Archive


Ecological Impacts of Hurricanes Across the Yucatan Peninsula 1851-2000

Related Publications



  • Lead: Emery Boose, David Foster
  • Investigators: Audrey Barker Plotkin, Brian Hall
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: 1851
  • End date: 2000
  • Status: completed
  • Location: Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico)
  • Latitude: +15.8 to +21.6
  • Longitude: -92.5 to -86.7
  • Elevation:
  • Taxa:
  • Release date: 2014
  • Revisions:
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.71.22
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: historical
  • Research topic: ecological informatics and modelling; historical and retrospective studies; international research projects; regional studies
  • LTER core area: disturbance
  • Keywords: geographic information systems, history, hurricane damage, modeling, region, wind
  • Abstract:

    This study used computer modeling to study the impacts of hurricanes across the Yucatan Peninsula since 1851. For details on methods and results please see the published paper (Boose, E. R., D. R. Foster, A. Barker Plotkin and B. Hall. 2003. Geographical and historical variation in hurricanes across the Yucatan Peninsula. In Lowland Maya Area: Three Millennia at the Human-Wildland Interface. A. Gomez-Pompa, M. F. Allen, S. Fedick and J. J. Jimenez-Osornio, eds. Haworth Press, New York, NY. In press). The Abstract from the paper is reproduced below.

    "The ecological impacts of hurricanes across the Yucatan Peninsula over the last 150 years were investigated using a simple meteorological model (HURRECON) developed at Harvard Forest as well as a database of historical hurricane data (HURDAT) maintained by the U. S. National Hurricane Center. All hurricanes over the period 1851-2000 with sustained winds of hurricane force (33 meters/sec) within 300 kilometers of the study region were analyzed (n = 105). Each storm was reconstructed to produce estimates of wind damage on the Fujita scale across the region. Individual reconstructions were then compiled to study cumulative impacts of all 105 storms.

    "Results showed considerable variation in hurricane activity from year to year, and from decade to decade, while at the half-century scale there was an increase in hurricane intensity since the mid-nineteenth century. Ninety percent of the hurricanes causing F1 damage or higher (on the Fujita scale) occurred in the months of August, September, and October. A strong spatial gradient in hurricane frequency and intensity extended across the region from northeast to southwest, resulting from (1) the greater number of hurricanes to the north, (2) the east to west movement of most hurricanes across the area, and (3) the tendency for most hurricanes to weaken significantly after landfall. For example, during the study period, northeastern parts of the peninsula experienced a minimum of one F3 hurricane, six F2 hurricanes, and thirty F1 hurricanes, while southwestern parts experienced no F2 or F3 damage and fewer than five F1 storms. Though a significant disturbance across much of the Yucatan Peninsula, hurricanes may have shorter-lived and less severe ecological impacts than fire or human land use. The interaction of these factors (e.g., fires following hurricanes), however, may be very significant and deserves further study."

  • Methods:

    List of Hurricanes

    The data file lists the 105 Yucatan hurricanes studied in this project. Please see the published paper for details on hurricane selection and meteorological modeling. All meteorological reconstructions used Rm (radius of maxium winds) = 50 km and B (scaling parameter) = 1.3.

    Hurricane Track Data

    The data file contains track and maximum wind speed data from HURDAT for each hurricane during the period 1851-2000. Please see the published paper for details. These data may be used as input to the Hurrecon model by selecting the appropriate rows for a given hurricane and deleting the Code and Vm(kt) variables.

    Site Impacts

    The data files contain reconstructed wind damage and peak wind direction for two sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, Zoh Laguna (south central) and Cancun (northeast coast). Each file includes all hurricanes that were estimated to have produced F0 damage or higher during the period 1851-2000.

    GIS and Input Data

    The accompanying Zip file contains the following files: (1) Text Files. YU.PAR = Parameter file for the Hurrecon model. YU75.GRD = Grid file for the Hurrecon model. (2) GIS Files (Idrisi for Windows v.2 format): YU75.IMG = Cover map (land or water) for the Yucatan Peninsula. Coordinates = lat/long. Resolution = 7.5 km. This file was used to create regional maps of reconstructed wind damage with the Hurrecon model.

  • Use:

    This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • Citation:

    Boose E, Foster D. 2014. Ecological Impacts of Hurricanes Across the Yucatan Peninsula 1851-2000. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF071 (v.22). Environmental Data Initiative:

Detailed Metadata

hf071-01: list of hurricanes

  1. code: hurricane code. Each hurricane in this study was assigned a unique code consisting of "Y" plus the year. A lower case letter (a, b, c) was added if there was more than one hurricane in the same year.
  2. start date of landfall or closest approach to the Yucatan Peninsula (Gregorian calendar)
  3. end date of landfall or closest approach to the Yucatan Peninsula (Gregorian calendar)
  4. number: tropical storm number in HURDAT
  5. name: hurricane name assigned by the US National Hurricane Center or World Meteorological Organization (1950-2000)
  6. ss: Saffir-Simpson category at landfall or closest approach to the Yucatan Peninsula
  7. track: hurricane track in study region
    • N: landfall in northeast peninsula (Quintana Roo)
    • N*: in northeast peninsula (Quintana Roo) - storm that reintensified after crossing the peninsula and caused greater reconstructed damage in western or northern area
    • O: passed offshore to north or east
    • S: landfall in southeast peninsula (Belize) or further south
    • W: passed offshore to west of peninsula
  8. rf.max: reconstructed maximum damage on the Fujita scale (F0-F3) across the Yucatan Peninsula. Nd = no damage.

hf071-02: hurricane tracks

  1. datetime: date and time
  2. code: hurricane code
  3. date: date
  4. year: year
  5. month: month
  6. day: day
  7. time: time
  8. hour: hour (24-hour values). Times are Greenwich Mean Time. (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  9. minute: minute (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  10. latitude: latitude of hurricane center in degrees. Positive values are degrees North. (unit: degree / missing value: NA)
  11. longitude: longitude of hurricane center in degrees. Negative values are degrees West. (unit: degree / missing value: NA)
  12. vm.m: maximum sustained (1-minute) wind speed over water in meters per second (unit: metersPerSecond / missing value: NA)
  13. vm.kt: maximum sustained (1-minute) wind speed over water in knots (nautical miles per hour) (unit: knots / missing value: NA)

hf071-03: site impacts

  1. site: site name
  2. code: hurricane code
  3. fsca: maximum predicted wind damage on the Fujita scale using the Hurrecon model (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  4. wdir: predicted peak wind direction in degrees using the Hurrecon model (unit: degree / missing value: NA)

hf071-04: zip file contains GIS (Idrisi) and input files for Hurrecon model

  • Compression: zip
  • Format: Windows executable
  • Type: model