Image courtesy Forbes Magazine.

Dr. Corene Matyas is quoted in an article in Forbes Magazine written by Dr. Marshall Shepherd at the University of Georgia. The article talks about the potential impacts of Cyclone Kenneth, forecast to affect Mozambique after Cyclone Idai hit the middle of the country hard in March. Dr. Matyas authored a 2015 paper in the International Journal of Climatology that examined tracks of tropical cyclones moving through the Mozambique Channel, and co-authored three articles on socio-economic impacts of extreme weather on rural subsistence farmers in the country. She is currently mentoring undergraduate student Sarah VanSchoick in research about the rainfall patterns of cyclones that move over Madagascar and Mozambique.

Image courtesy National Geographic

Tropical Cyclone Idai recently formed and moved over the Mozambique Channel before making landfall over Mozambique and causing devastation to coastal areas. To help understand the cyclone’s path, National Geographic reached out to UF’s Dr. Corene Matyas. Here’s what she had to say:

Mozambique averages about 1.5 tropical cyclones a year and, although rarely more powerful than Category 2, they can cause a lot of damage, said Corene Matyas, a tropical cyclone researcher at the University of Florida.

Flooding is the main problem affecting most people from the storms. With climate change the atmosphere now holds more moisture (because it’s warmer, on average), and that means there may be more water available for heavy rainfalls, Matyas said.

Cyclone Idai also had a loopy lifespan. It was born March 4th just off the coast in the very warm waters of the Mozambique Channel—a 250 mile-wide arm of the Indian Ocean between Mozambique and the island of Madagascar. Idai came ashore as a weak tropical storm in northern Mozambique and then wandered back out into the channel before doing a u-turn off the western coast of Madagascar March 11. It then made a beeline for its landfall at the city of Beira on the 15th.

“That kind of looping, unpredictable storm track isn’t uncommon for cyclones that start in the channel,” Matyas said.

Read the full article in National Geographic.

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HERRERO, SOUTHWORTH, BUNTING, CHILD – Using Repeat Photography to Observe Vegetation Change Over Time in Gorongosa National Park


Article first published online: JUN 2017 African Studies Quarterly

ABSTRACT: Protected areas are important conservation tools, as they can be managed to preserve baseline ecosystem health, including that of vegetation dynamics. Understanding long-term ecosystem dynamics within a protected area enables one to understand how this static park landscape responds to outside pressure and changing drivers. In this study, a repeat photography analysis was used to analyze changes in the vegetation pattern and abundance at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique across seventy-two years of the parks history. Archival photographs dating as far back as 1940 were selected for sites that could be relocated in a subsequent field visit in 2012. Qualitative and quantitative analysis on vegetation abundance by structural group was undertaken using Edwards’ Tabular Key. Results when comparing the photographic pairs show that, in general, tree cover has increased on average from 25 percent to 40 percent over the last seventy-two years. This 15 percent increase may be in response to environmental drivers such as human management, herbivory, fire, and precipitation. Contrary to many recent studies on shrub encroachment in southern Africa, this study finds an increase in tree cover. Such analysis and results are valuable in that they demonstrate long-term ecological change within a managed protected area.

Read the full publication at African Studies Quarterly


MATYAS – Regional Inequality and Polarization in the Context of Concurrent Extreme Weather and Economic Shocks

Julie A. Silva, Corene J. Matyas and Benedito Cunguara

Article first published online: 1 Jan 2015 Applied Geography

DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.01.015

ABSTRACT: This study examines how extreme weather influences regional inequality and polarization within Mozambique in the context of on-going economic shocks. Utilizing satellite-based estimates of rainfall spatially analyzed within a GIS, we establish a 16-year rainfall climatology and calculate monthly rainfall anomalies for 665 villages. We approximate storm-total rainfall from all tropical cyclones entering the Mozambique Channel, as well as the extent of damaging winds for those making landfall, between 2005 and 2008. We group villages according to tropical cyclone impacts and use hierarchical cluster analysis to group the remaining villages according to shared patterns of monthly rainfall anomalies. Using economic data from the 2005 and 2008 National Agricultural Surveys of Mozambique, we relate weather patterns associated with near normal rainfall, tropical cyclones, flooding, and drought to changes in inequality and polarization by conducting decomposition analyses of the Gini index and Duclos-Esteban-Ray (DER) polarization index. Our findings mainly correspond to the generally accepted view that weather shocks exacerbate existing income and power disparities within societies. However, in some cases we find evidence that inequality and polarization can decline in the aftermath of an extreme event, and increase even where the weather is relatively good. By identifying varying effects of extreme events on inequality and polarization at subnational level, our study enables a more detailed understanding of weather-related effects on socio-economic outcomes in rural societies rapidly integrating into the global economy.

Read the full publication at Applied Geography


MATYASTropical cyclone formation and motion in the Mozambique Channel

Corene J. Matyas

Article first published online: 7 Apr 2014 International Journal of Climatology

DOI: 10.1002/joc.3985

ABSTRACT: Although tropical cyclones (TCs) forming in the Mozambique Channel are relatively close to land and have affected vulnerable populations, few studies specifically examine these storms. This study analysed formation frequency and location and storm motion during 1948–2010. A geographic information system was employed to calculate storm trajectory and determine whether or not landfall occurred. Reanalysis data from NCEP/NCAR were examined to identify environmental conditions such as 500 hPa geopotential heights and precipitable water. Nonparametric statistical tests explored relationships between these conditions, TC attributes, and four teleconnections known to influence circulation patterns in the greater Southwest Indian Ocean: the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Indian Ocean Subtropical Dipole (IOSD), Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), and Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Results show that 94 TCs formed in the channel, with approximately 50% making landfall. Formation frequency varied under different phases of the SAM, IOSD, and MJO. Findings differed when the study period was divided into half, suggesting that inclusion of data prior to 1979 be interpreted cautiously. During the second period, formation tended to occur in the northern (southern) portion of the channel when the IOSD and SAM were negative (positive). The MJO and SAM were associated with differences in precipitable water values, while the MJO and IOSD were associated with track curvature. Geopotential height anomalies at 500 hPa varied under the three phases of ENSO.

Read the full publication at International Journal of Climatology