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Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems

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Vol 6 (4 Issues in 2014)
Online ISSN: 1942-2466

March 03, 2014

Warming Seas Cause Stronger Tropical Cyclones, Models Show

Tropical cyclones, such as hurricane Sandy and typhoon Haiyan, could be made stronger as global warming results in rising sea temperatures, reveals new research in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems.

The interactions between global warming and cyclone activity are complex, with rising sea surface temperatures, changing energy distributions and altered atmospheric dynamics all having some effect.

Using a cloud-resolving model the researchers explored the effect of rising sea surface temperatures on tropical cyclone size, strength, and frequency. The model was a highly idealized representation of the tropical climate, one tuned to enhance the formation of tropical cyclones.

The authors systematically varied the sea surface temperature from 21 to 36 degrees Celsius. They found that as the sea surface temperature rose, so too did the size and strength of tropical cyclones. Cyclone formation, however, became less frequent with a warmer ocean. The results showed a 6°C rise in sea surface temperature resulted in a doubling of the kinetic energy involved in each tropical cyclone. A 6°C rise also resulted in a doubling of precipitation from the modeled storms.