Nelson Hopes For Public Trading

The next time the National Hurricane Center in Miami names a storm system in the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea, scientists around the globe might profit from forecasting where it will hit the U.S. mainland. That's the concept behind the Hurricane Futures Market, an online trading network in which meteorologists will buy and sell contracts representing stretches of shoreline from Texas to Maine. Contracts covering the area where the storm first crosses the coast pay out $1. The market was developed by three University of Miami professors investigating why the public's expectations for hurricane landfalls sometimes differ from the center's forecasts. "We're trying to improve the overall hurricane warning problem," says David Letson, 43, an associate professor of marine affairs who thought up the market. Letson teamed with meteorology professor David Nolan, 36, and economics professor David Kelly, 38. The University of Iowa in Iowa City will host the market alongside others that trade on potential Nobel Prize winners and economic indicators. Trading may open to the general public in the future, said FORREST NELSON, a University of Iowa economics professor who helps run Iowa Electronic Markets. A version of this article also appeared Aug. 13 on the website of the HOUSTON (Texas) CHRONICLE.