Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Miami Scientist Links Ocean "Fuel Injectors" To Sudden Hurricane Intensification

Date:
November 1, 1999
Source:
University Of Miami
Summary:
A University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science professor has identified the probable cause of sudden intensifications and, perhaps more importantly, mapped some of the hot spots where this season's hurricanes are likely to strengthen dramatically just before landfall.

VIRGINIA KEY, FL -- Just hours from the United States coastline, Hurricane Opal suddenly strengthened. Its winds shot up from 110 mph to 135 mph in a mere 14 hours. Similar sudden and unexpected intensification just before landfall happened with Hurricanes Allen and Camille -- leaving barely enough time to warn people, and almost no time to evacuate.

Now, a University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science professor has identified the probable cause of those sudden intensifications and, perhaps more importantly, mapped some of the hot spots where this season's hurricanes are likely to strengthen dramatically just before landfall.

The cause, UM associate professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography Lynn K. "Nick" Shay said, are "warm core rings," where warm water extends down to a depth of 100 meters or more.

The discovery, which is the result of a joint effort between Shay and Peter Black of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division, could save lives and millions of dollars spent on unnecessary evacuations by helping more accurately predict how powerful a storm will be when it strikes land.

"This is the heat. This is the energy source," Shay said. "It's like a big fuel-injector in the middle of the ocean."

Warm ocean temperatures fuel hurricanes. Normally, though, surface temperatures of 26 degrees centigrade or higher only extend down about 30 to 40 meters. A passing storm draws some energy from the warm water as it passes, but it also stirs it, mixing it with cooler water from below and lowering the temperature of the surface water. The now-cooler surface water then provides less energy for the storm, keeping it from intensifying much further.

In a warm core ring, however, the warm water goes much deeper. It doesn't cool that much when a storm passes because it doesn't mix with cooler water from below. A hurricane passing over one of the rings, which are 180 to 220 kilometers in diameter, gets a rich, deep source of energy that, coupled with the right atmospheric conditions, can suddenly turbo-charge a hurricane and turn a minimal storm into a monster.

"Ultimately," Shay said, "what we are aiming for is to be able to say that when it encounters this ring, you may be looking at a category four or five storm."

A warm core ring is forming right now in the north Gulf in a position to affect passing hurricanes this season. Like the ones discovered before it, the ring was predictable. The rings develop every 11 to 14 months at the top of a warm-water current that loops up into the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. Then, typically, they drift westward at one to four kilometers per day over a period of several months until they break up along the Mexico or Texas coast. Another one forms in the northern Atlantic, off the coast of Maine.

Shay and Black plan to map a detailed three-dimensional grid of the ring in the Gulf. They also are using historical hurricane tracking information to determine whether warm core rings could account for the sudden intensification of past storms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Miami. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Miami. "Miami Scientist Links Ocean "Fuel Injectors" To Sudden Hurricane Intensification." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991101075402.htm>.
University Of Miami. (1999, November 1). Miami Scientist Links Ocean "Fuel Injectors" To Sudden Hurricane Intensification. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991101075402.htm
University Of Miami. "Miami Scientist Links Ocean "Fuel Injectors" To Sudden Hurricane Intensification." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991101075402.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins