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.”
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 | Newswise Science News
In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
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21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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