FORT MYERS, Fla. — Sometimes to forecast tropical storms or predict climate trends, scientists need to look to the past. The science is called paleotempestology, or the study of past tropical cyclone activity.   

Researchers at Florida Gulf Cost University in Fort Myers drive corer devices down several meters into tidal lagoons to recover sediments left by hurricanes hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago. 

“If you want to understand what hurricanes were doing before humans were collecting data on them, says Dr. Joanne Muller, FGCU Paleoclimatologist, “the only way to really do it is by looking at the geologic record.” 

Dr. Muller’s team has gathered sediment core samples as ancient as two-thousand years old.

Learn more by watching WFLA’s “Surviving the Storm: Ian’s Impact”. The 1-hour special airs on Saturday, May 27 at 7 p.m. on WFLA, and on 9 p.m. Sunday, May 28 on WTTA.