Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Professors Chart Tropical Cyclones’ Role in Ending Drought in the Southeast

13.07.2012
Hurricanes and tropical storms can wreak havoc when they make landfall, often resulting in fatalities and causing billions of dollars in property damages.

But they also can have a silver lining, particularly when they are “drought busters,” as was the case for Tropical Storm Debby, which dropped more than 20 inches of rain in some parts of Florida and Georgia in late June.

“Drought is a far more protracted natural disaster than a tropical cyclone, and drought can have a huge economic impact,” said Dr. Peter Soulé, a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University.

“Generally, the news coverage of tropical storms runs to the negative, such as damages and lives lost,” Soulé said. “However, there are some benefits to landfalling tropical systems from the rainfall they produce that can end drought conditions.”

Storms that are considered tropical cyclones include tropical disturbances, tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. The beneficial effects of “drought busters” have been studied since 1968 when A. L. Sugg published “Beneficial Aspects of the Tropical Cyclone,” in the Journal of Applied Meteorology.

Soulé and three other researchers analyzed tropical cyclones’ role in reducing drought conditions in the Southeastern United States. Their work, “Drought-Busting Tropical Cyclones in the Southeastern United States: 1950-2008” was published in the March 2012 issue of the journal Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Dr. Justin Maxwell from Indiana University was the lead author of the research article. In addition to Soulé, the other authors were Dr. Paul Knapp from UNC Greensboro and Dr. Jason Ortegren from the University of West Florida. Their research is online at http://geo.appstate.edu/sites/geo.appstate.edu/files/Maxwell_Annals_2012.pdf.

They found that during the 58-year period, up to 41 percent of all droughts and at least 20 percent of droughts in three-fourths of the climate divisions in the Southeast were ended by tropical cyclone drought busters. In addition, they found that 4 to 10 percent of all rainfall in the Southeast occurred during the tropical cyclone season and that as much as 15 percent of rainfall in the Carolinas occurred from tropical cyclones.

“It turns out tropical cyclones were a very important process for ending drought,” Soulé said of the time period and region studied.

“Drought can be a far worse natural hazard in terms of cost because it is so long lived and affects such large areas,” Soulé said. “In the broad scheme of natural hazards it tends to rank high in terms of cost. People don’t usually think about how bad drought can be and how much money drought can cost.”

For example, the 1988 drought is estimated to have caused between $80 and $120 billion in damage including crop losses and destructive wildfires. Last year’s drought across the Southeast cost more than $10 billion in agricultural losses. Droughts also impact urban and rural water quality.

Currently, 65 percent of the U.S. is experiencing drought, according to the drought monitor website at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/). And while Tropical Storm Debby ended Florida’s drought, there is no guarantee that any of the five hurricanes and 13 named storms predicted for this hurricane season will make landfall and bring relief to the Southeast.

Last year’s season saw only one storm to make landfall in the Southeast.

“This year has been unusual in that we have already had four named storms, two which developed in May before the official beginning of the hurricane season on June 1,” Soulé said. “But there is no way to know what this season is going to hold.”

CONTACTS:
Dr. Peter Soulé, soulept@appstate.edu
Dr. Justin Maxwell, maxweljt@indiana.edu
Dr. Paul Knapp, paknapp@uncg.edu
Dr. Jason Ortegren, jortegren@uwf.edu

Dr. Peter Soulé | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.appstate.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>