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Welcome to the HURRICANE Project, based at the Durham University’s Department of Earth Sciences. The HURRICANE Project is a five year, 1.4 million euro, project funded by the European Research Council and led by Dr James Baldini. The research project aims to build a detailed picture of Atlantic hurricane activity over the last 500 years or longer using geochemical proxies found in stalagmites from the Caribbean region. The records produced by the HURRICANE Project would overcome the limitations imposed by the brevity of existing datasets to permit statistically robust comparisons of hurricane activity between the pre- and post-anthropogenic greenhouse climate states.

A comparison between recent hurricane activity (over the past few decades) and long-term natural hurricane variability (extending back several centuries) will enable us to assess possible causes of this variability, whether anthropogenic or natural. Furthermore, by understanding the relationship between palaeoclimate and tropical cyclone dynamics, we will be one step closer to predicting future hurricane activity in the changing global climate.

From several possible cave sites in Belize and Turks and Caicos islands, two caves were selected that are within the active Atlantic hurricane basin and contain numerous promising samples. Numerous site visits have already taken place and cave monitoring is underway to characterise the cave environments and identify stalagmites most likely to preserve a record of hurricane activity.

The HURRICANE Project is a multi-institution effort with the main project team located in Durham University’s Department of Earth Sciences, and with other team members and collaborators in the UK, USA, and Switzerland. Together, the research team bring to the project expertise in palaeoclimatology, climate modelling, archaeology, and isotope geochemistry.

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