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.
About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents annual expenditures of more than $820 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.
Media contact: Keith Randall, News & Information Services, Texas A&M, at (979) 845-4644, Renyi Zhang at (979) 422-5826, or Yuan Wang at (979) 450-9106.
For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamutimes.tamu.edu/
Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TAMU
Keith Randall | newswise
Evidence points to widespread loss of ocean oxygen by 2030s
02.05.2016 | National Science Foundation
Forming fogbows: Study finds limit on evaporation to ice sheets, but that may change
02.05.2016 | Oregon State University
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
02.05.2016 | Life Sciences
02.05.2016 | Materials Sciences
02.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy