With the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season underway, researchers are pointing to the strong presence of El Niño as the major driver suppressing the development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin. But what specific conditions are associated with El Niño that lead to a less than ideal environment for tropical cyclone development? Through research and observation, hurricane researchers know strong environmental wind shear is a major factor affecting potential hurricane development and growth. This hurricane season, AOML researchers are delving further into the relationship between wind shear and tropical cyclones.
How do hurricanes form, survive, and intensify? Hurricane scientists have long believed upper ocean temperatures are the key factor. AOML’s Dr. Joe Cione reveals a new theory, after observing 62 Atlantic hurricanes of a span of 32 years, suggesting this common theory may not be all that accurate. If his theory holds, it could have the potential to significantly improve hurricane intensity forecasts for the nation.
Dr. Cione found that in addition to ocean temperature, the near-surface air temperature and moisture around the hurricane are also essential energy requirements for sustaining a hurricane. These two variables often play an even more important role than ocean temperature.