Ingredients for more powerful Atlantic hurricanes revealed

November 30th, 2007 - 6:03 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov.30 (ANI): University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have found that the Atlantic organizes the ingredients for a powerful hurricane season.
The ocean, they claim, can create a situation where either everything is conducive to hurricane activity or, nothing is potentially making the Atlantic more vulnerable to climate change than the world’s other hurricane hot spots.
Evidence indicates that higher ocean temperatures add a lot of fuel to these devastating storms.
In a paper published today in the “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society,” co-authors Jim Kossin and Dan Vimont caution against only looking at one piece of the puzzle.
“Sea surface temperature is a bit overrated. It’s part of a larger pattern, says Kossin, an atmospheric scientist at UW-Madison’s Cooperative Institute of Meteorological Satellite Studies.
Kossin and Vimont, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, noticed that warmer water is just one part of a larger pattern, indicating that the conditions are right for more frequent, stronger hurricanes in the Atlantic.
The atmosphere reacts to ocean conditions and the ocean reacts to the atmospheric situation, creating a distinct circulation pattern known as the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM).
The AMM unifies the connections among the factors that influence hurricanes such as ocean temperature, characteristics of the wind, and moisture in the atmosphere.
Finding that a basin-wide circulation pattern drives Atlantic hurricane activity helps explain evidence of significant differences in long-term hurricane trends among the world’s basins.
Kossin and Vimont are keen to determine why long-term trends in the Atlantic looked different from those in other basins, particularly in the Pacific, where the majority of the world’s hurricane activity occurs.
According to Vimont, the other oceanic basins have their own modes of variability.
Understanding how factors vary together provides a new framework from which to consider climate change and hurricanes.
“Our study broadens the interpretation of the hurricane-climate relationship,” Vimont says.
In addition to helping researchers understand and predict the effects of climate change on hurricane activity, Vimont and Kossin can forecast the AMM up to a year in advance.
If the AMM is positive, all the conditions are right for hurricane development. If it is negative, those living on the coasts can generally expect a quieter hurricane season.
Vimont and Kossin plan to further develop their AMM forecasts for use during the hurricane season. The duo also hopes to continue to research the physical relationships that constitute the AMM as well as how future climate change will affect these modes of climate variability. (ANI)

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