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 Volcanoes and glaciers combine as powerful methane producers
20.11.2018 | Lancaster University

nachricht Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland
15.11.2018 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New China and US studies back use of pulse oximeters for assessing blood pressure

21.11.2018 | Medical Engineering

Exoplanet stepping stones

21.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>