Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gulf Warm-water Eddies Intensify Hurricane Changes

Date:
October 4, 2005
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Scientists monitoring ocean heat and circulation in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have a new understanding of how these tropical storms can gain intensity so quickly: The Gulf of Mexico's "Loop Current" is likely intensifying hurricanes that pass over eddies of warm water that spin off the main current.

New Loop Current warm-water eddies, shown in orange, recently formed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit: RSMAS/NOAA

Scientists monitoring ocean heat and circulation in the Gulf ofMexico during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have a new understanding ofhow these tropical storms can gain intensity so quickly: The Gulf ofMexico's "Loop Current" is likely intensifying hurricanes that passover eddies of warm water that spin off the main current.

"A positive outcome of a hurricane season like this is that we've beenable to learn more about the Loop Current and its associated warm-watereddies, which are basically hurricane intensity engines," said NickShay, a University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and AtmosphericScience (RSMAS) meteorologist and physical oceanographer.

The Loop Current is a horseshoe-shaped feature that flows clockwise,transferring warm subtropical waters from the Caribbean Sea through theYucatan Straits into the Gulf of Mexico.

This year, the Loop Current extended deep into the Gulf of Mexicoduring hurricane season. Currents at this time of year typically becomeunsteady and pinch off deep, warm eddies, said Shay. The warm waterthen becomes ideal for hurricanes in the process of intensifying.

"Scientists have known that hurricanes form above the world's warmestocean surface waters," said Jay Fein, program director in the NationalScience Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Atmospheric Sciences, whichfunded the research. "This study adds new information about hurricanes'journeys to landfall, and will help to better predict their paths andintensity changes during their final hours over open water."

After Hurricane Katrina and a week before Hurricane Rita, Shay, PeterBlack from the NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and MeteorologicalLaboratory (AOML) and Eric Uhlhorn of the University of Miami/NOAACooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Science, deployedAirborne Expendable Conductivity, Temperature and Depth profilers(AXCTDs); Current Profilers (AXCPs); and Bathythermographs (AXBTs) toobtain information on water temperature to depths of up to 3,300 feet(1,000 meters).

The AXCTDs and AXCPs, which were funded by NSF, are dropped from aircraft and measure salinity and currents.

Meteorologists are learning a great deal as hurricanes pass overthe deep, warm waters of the Loop Current, Shay said. "We have longbeen aware that these currents are an important way for the ocean todistribute heat and energy, but until now, we just didn't have muchdata on the role they played in building hurricane intensity."

Two days before Hurricane Rita, Black and Rick Lumpkin of AOML,and Peter Niiler of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, deployedsurface drifters that measure surface and subsurface thermal conditionswhile traveling clockwise around a Loop Current warm eddy just south ofLa. The eddy was lying in the path of Rita.

"This represents one of the most comprehensive ocean-data sets wheretwo major hurricanes passed through the same region," said Frank Marks,director of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. "This series ofobservations is a testament to how new ocean observations are helpingus understand hurricane intensity changes."

"The last time there was a season with two Category 5 hurricanes in thesame basin was in 1961 with Carla and Hattie," said Shay. "However, thesame phenomenon occurred the year before in 1960 with Donna and Ethel."

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita also have much in common with HurricaneOpal, a category 4 storm that occurred a decade ago, on Oct. 4. DuringOpal, meteorologists first recognized the pivotal role that deep, warmeddies play in quickly building hurricane intensity. Opal encountered awarm- water eddy in the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened in intensityfrom Category 1 to Category 4 in just 14 hours.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Gulf Warm-water Eddies Intensify Hurricane Changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051004083920.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2005, October 4). Gulf Warm-water Eddies Intensify Hurricane Changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051004083920.htm
National Science Foundation. "Gulf Warm-water Eddies Intensify Hurricane Changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051004083920.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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