Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aerosols from human activities tend to weaken hurricanes and cyclones

Date:
March 10, 2014
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Aerosols in the atmosphere produced from human activities do indeed directly affect a hurricane or tropical cyclone, but not in a way many scientists had previously believed. In fact, they tend to weaken such storms, according to a new study.

Hurricane Katrina, as seen by the GEOS-12 satellite.
Credit: Image courtesy of NOAA

Aerosols in the atmosphere produced from human activities do indeed directly affect a hurricane or tropical cyclone, but not in a way many scientists had previously believed. In fact, they tend to weaken such storms, according to a new study that includes a team of Texas A&M University researchers.

Renyi Zhang, University Distinguished Professor in Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M, and colleagues Yuan Wang, Keun-Hee Lee, Yun Lin and Misty Levy have had their work published in the current issue of Nature Climate Change.

The team examined how anthropogenic aerosols -- those produced from human activities, such as from factories, power plants, car and airplane emissions and other forms -- play a role in the development of hurricanes. The team used a complex computer model and data obtained from Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in 2005 and produced catastrophic damage.

The researchers found that aerosols tend to weaken the development of hurricanes (tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean) or typhoons (those formed in the Pacific). They also found that aerosols tend to cause a hurricane to fall apart earlier and wind speeds are lower than storms where anthropogenic aerosols are not present.

On average, there are about 90 hurricanes or cyclones that form each year around the world, meaning their findings could be crucial in how we evaluate and prepare for destructive tropical storms.

"The results are surprising," Zhang says, "because other studies have leaned global warming by greenhouse gases makes hurricanes more intense and frequent. We found that aerosols may operate oppositely than greenhouse gases in terms of influencing hurricanes.

"Another thing we find, however, is that aerosols appear to increase the amount of precipitation in a hurricane or typhoon. The rainbands associated with such tropical storms seem to be larger and stronger."

Zhang says the results could prove beneficial in how future hurricanes are studied -- and how important the presence or absence of aerosols impact the development of such storms.

Katrina, for example, was the most destructive storm in U.S. history, with damages totaling more than $100 billion and the storm killed more than 1,800 people. Winds topped 175 miles per hour and the storm flooded 80 percent of the New Orleans area.

"The information produced from this study could be very helpful in the way we forecast hurricanes," Zhang explains.

"Future studies may need to factor in the aerosol effect. If a hurricane or typhoon is formed in a part of the world where we know that anthropogenic aerosols are almost certainly present, that data needs to be considered in the storm formation and development and eventual storm preparation."

Yuan Wang, who conducted the research with Zhang while at Texas A&M, currently works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar.

The study was funded by grants from NASA, Texas A&M's Supercomputing facilities and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yuan Wang, Keun-Hee Lee, Yun Lin, Misti Levy, Renyi Zhang. Distinct effects of anthropogenic aerosols on tropical cyclones. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2144

Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Aerosols from human activities tend to weaken hurricanes and cyclones." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310101700.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2014, March 10). Aerosols from human activities tend to weaken hurricanes and cyclones. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310101700.htm
Texas A&M University. "Aerosols from human activities tend to weaken hurricanes and cyclones." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310101700.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) 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