Hurricanes: Are We Maximizing the Potential of Science
Hurricanes are in the spotlight, we have all been watching, powerless over the impact. How much do we really know about hurricanes? Meteorologist Jeff Masters explains. “They’re heat engines. They take heat from the oceans and convert it to the energy of their winds. They’re taking thermal energy and making mechanical energy out of it. The natural engine that is a hurricane is fueled by warm, moist air. The storms move heat from the ocean surface high into Earth’s atmosphere and can travel thousands of miles.”
According to NASA scientists, “our current understanding of hurricanes suggest that if ocean temperatures increased by 2-2.5 degrees, the average intensity of hurricanes would increase by 6 to 10 percent. In an analysis of the historical record, there appeared to be an increase in the number of intense (Category 4 and 5) storms in recent years. Another analysis charted sea surface temperatures and the number of tropical cyclones. It revealed that as sea surface temperatures went up, the number of cyclones went up. Was the increase in sea surface temperatures responsible for the increased number of storms or did some outside factor drive both?
These facts make me question what is happening with our seas surface temperature in our areas of impact in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA reports for 2017 show the hypoxic zone covering 8,776 square miles (an area the size of New Jersey) as of July 2017 the largest dead zone ever recorded in this region (historical records kept for the last 32 years.) The hypoxic zone or “Dead Zone” results in an increase in sea surface temperature. Both coastal and deeper ocean hypoxia are predicted to worsen with increasing temperatures.
I am not a meteorologist or a climatologist but it seems logical to assume that we need to make some changes. Where can we help reduce potential storms by taking action at home and work remains to be seen. Better technology to reduce potential threats seems like the best answer. What do you think?