Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human Activities Found To Affect Ocean Temperatures In Hurricane Formation Regions

Date:
September 12, 2006
Source:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Summary:
New research shows that rising sea surface temperatures in hurricane "breeding grounds" of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are unlikely to be purely natural in origin. These findings complement earlier work that uncovered compelling scientific evidence of a link between warming SSTs and increases in hurricane intensity.

Warm ocean waters fuel hurricanes, and there was plenty of warm water for Hurricane Katrina to build up strength once she crossed over Florida and moved into the Gulf of Mexico. This image depicts a three-day average of actual sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, from August 25-27, 2005. Every area in yellow, orange or red represents 82 degrees Fahrenheit or above. A hurricane needs SSTs at 82 degrees or warmer to strengthen. The data came from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite.
Credit: NASA/SVS

New research shows that rising sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in hurricane “breeding grounds” of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are unlikely to be purely natural in origin. These findings complement earlier work that uncovered compelling scientific evidence of a link between warming SSTs and increases in hurricane intensity.

Previous studies to understand the causes of SST changes have focused on temperature changes averaged over very large ocean areas – such as the entire Atlantic or Pacific basins. The new research specifically targets SST changes in much smaller hurricane formation regions.

Using 22 different computer models of the climate system, atmospheric scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and ten other research centers have shown that the warming of the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans over the last century is directly linked to human activities.

For the period 1906-2005, the researchers found an 84 percent chance that external forcing (such as human-caused increases in greenhouse gases, ozone and various aerosol particles) accounts for at least 67 percent of the observed rise in SSTs in the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane formation regions. In both regions, human-caused increases in greenhouse gases were found to be the main driver of the 20th century warming of SSTs.

We’ve used virtually all the world’s climate models to study the causes of SST changes in hurricane formation regions,” said Benjamin Santer of Livermore’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, lead author of a paper describing the research that appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Santer, in conjunction with Livermore colleagues Peter Gleckler, Krishna AchutaRao, Jim Boyle, Mike Fiorino, Steve Klein and Karl Taylor, collaborated with researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of California, Merced, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Hamburg in Germany, the Climatic Research Unit and Manchester University in the United Kingdom, the NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

“In the real world, we’re performing an uncontrolled experiment by burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases,” Santer said. “We don’t have a convenient parallel Earth with no human influence on climate. This is why our study relied on computer models for estimates of how the climate of an ‘undisturbed Earth’ might have evolved. The bottom line is that natural processes alone simply cannot explain the observed SST increases in these hurricane breeding grounds. The best explanation for these changes has to include a large human influence.”

Hurricanes are complex phenomena and are influenced by a variety of physical factors such as SST, wind shear, moisture availability and atmospheric stability. The increasing SSTs in the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane formation regions isn’t the sole cause of hurricane intensity, but is likely to be one of the most important influences on hurricane strength.

“The models that we’ve used to understand the causes of SST increases in these hurricane formation regions predict that the oceans are going to get a lot warmer over the 21st century,” Santer said. “That causes some concern. In a post-Katrina world, we need to do the best job we possibly can to understand the complex influences on hurricane intensity, and how our actions are changing those influences.”

The Livermore portion of the research is funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Human Activities Found To Affect Ocean Temperatures In Hurricane Formation Regions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060912104432.htm>.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (2006, September 12). Human Activities Found To Affect Ocean Temperatures In Hurricane Formation Regions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060912104432.htm
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Human Activities Found To Affect Ocean Temperatures In Hurricane Formation Regions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060912104432.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
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