Hurricanes A ‘Survival Guide’ Project W4400: Dynamics of Climate Variability and Climate Change Emily Firth, Bali White
What are hurricanes? (AKA cyclones and typhoons) intense low pressure disturbances Form, migrate over tropical ocean regions conditions required: high SST (> 26°C) and weak vertical wind shears. intense winds and very strong convective activity -> thunderstorms and large amounts of rainfall. takes days or a week to form spreads over a radius of a few hundred kilometers. surrounded by rings of towering thunder clouds spiraling up to a small circle at the center of the storm--the eye. winds here can reach a speed of 100+ km/hour and the most intense rainfall occurs. inside eye, air is still and convection suppressed by (subsidence). has a radius of 30-40 km. major damage potential / loss of life when they make landfall.
A regional snapshot This map shows the tracks of all Tropical cyclones which formed worldwide from 1985 to 2005 North Atlantic Ocean SW Pacific Ocean West Pacific Ocean North Indian Ocean East Pacific Ocean South Indian Ocean Typhoon Durian, Philippines Dec 2006
Migration of Hurricanes hurricane tracks curve eastward and they speed up north of ~30°N active in the "trade wind" belts - north or south of the equator where the winds blow steadily from east to west initiated by weak pressure perturbations that exist in the tropics. move west with the trade winds in a steady, relatively slow motion (10-20 km/hour). intensify primarily through release of latent heat in surrounding clouds; small percentage reach full hurricane intensity.
Global warming and hurricanes Tropical sea surface temperature (SST) increase of 0.25- 0.5C over past several decades Future projections linking global warming to hurricane trends are hotly debated Role of Global Climate Models Uncertainties and limitations –Year-to-year and multidecadal variability in SST and hurricane activity –Variation in historical and regional hurricane data –Temporal limitations: reliable satellite data only last 30 years
Three ‘take home’ points A likely increase in hurricane intensity with rising tropical SSTs Regions of hurricane origin likely to remain unchanged Uncertainty surrounding impacts of increasing SSTs on hurricane frequency
Useful resources HURDAT: Atlantic basin hurricane database www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricanes View of the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug 28, 2005.
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