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4/19/2007

THE "MAN-MADE" ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON

April 18, 2007
The Weather Channel Blog


The Atlantic Basin hurricane season officially starts June 1 and runs to the end of November. Pre-season and post-season storms and hurricanes have occurred and will continue to into the future, although they are rare (and it's even rarer that they make landfall in the U.S.).

The debate over whether global warming affects hurricanes - Many researchers think warming is causing the storms to get stronger, but others aren't so sure. A new study raises the possibility that global warming might make it harder for tropical cyclones to form. Warm water provides the energy that drives hurricanes, so warmer conditions should make the storms stronger. But warming also causes an increase in vertical wind shear over the tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans. When a hurricane encounters vertical wind shear, the hurricane can weaken when the heat of rising air dissipates over a larger area. "We don't know whether the change in shear will cancel out the increased potential from warming oceans, but the shear increase would tend to make the Atlantic and east Pacific less favorable to hurricanes. Which one of the two, warming oceans or increasing shear, will be the dominant factor? Will they cancel out? We and others are currently exploring those very questions, and we hope to have a better grasp on that answer in the near future. What we can say is that the magnitude of the shear change is large enough that it cannot be ignored."



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