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Category Archives: Publication Stories

New Study Describes Link Between South Atlantic Ocean and Global Rainfall Variability

In a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate, scientists with NOAA and the University of Miami have identified how variability in ocean circulation in the South Atlantic Ocean may influence global rainfall and climate patterns. The study by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) suggests that the South Atlantic is a potential predictor of global rainfall variability with a lead-time of approximately 20 years. This link between the South Atlantic Ocean and weather and climate could provide significant long-term insight for water management on a global scale.

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10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Early on the morning of August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana delta region and the Mississippi coast.  The storm surge brought enormous damage to the Gulf Coast and, when the levees around New Orleans failed, a great number of fatalities.  Coming amidst the very busy 2005 hurricane season, Katrina brought death and destruction not seen in a U.S. land-falling hurricane in decades.

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Volcano Spewing Carbon Dioxide Drives Coral to Give Way to Algae

Scientists from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami have documented a dramatic shift from vibrant coral communities to carpets of algae in remote Pacific Ocean waters where an undersea volcano spews carbon dioxide.

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Scientists Find Southern Ocean Removing CO2 from the Atmosphere More Efficiently

A research vessel ploughs through the waves, braving the strong westerly winds of the Roaring Forties in the Southern Ocean in order to measure levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in the surface of the ocean. (Nicolas Metzl, LOCEAN/IPSL Laboratory).

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AOML Scientists Featured in Special Women’s History Month Issue of Oceanography Magazine

Women’s History Month is celebrated annually in March and pays tribute to the generations of women whose contributions made a historical impact on society. It is also a month to honor women who are currently working hard to make positive innovations and impressions on the world.

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Gulf of Mexico Marine Food Web Changes Over the Decades

Scientists in the Gulf of Mexico now have a better understanding of how naturally-occurring climate cycles–as well as human activities–can trigger widespread ecosystem changes that ripple through the Gulf food web and the communities dependent on it, thanks to a new study published Saturday in the journal Global Change Biology.

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Research Reveals New Theory on Hurricane Formation and Intensification

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.

This study assessed sea surface conditions in tropical systems, by monitoring the difference between dewpoint temperature and the sea surface temperature within the hurricane environment. When the dewpoint temperature was higher than the hurricane’s inner core’s sea surface temperature, the storms internal energy would decrease and weaken the hurricane.

Contrary to long held assumptions, results from this study show hurricanes can, and occasionally do, maintain intensity even when sea surface temperatures are at or below a threshold of 26°C.  In six percent of the cases Dr. Cione studied, ocean surface temperatures of 26°C or higher were not required for a hurricane to survive.

For hurricanes south of 29°N, near-surface atmospheric moisture was found to be the most important factor in maintaining a hurricane. In deep tropic storms between 10°N – 20°N, atmospheric environment in and around a storm was found to be the primary factor responsible for determining how much surface energy was drawn up out of the ocean and into the hurricane environment.

Dr. Cione’s research has potential to greatly impact intensity hurricane forecast models, which traditionally focus on ocean surface temperature. With this study showing the importance of moisture and atmospheric temperature for hurricane growth, scientists can now investigate how these factors impact hurricane intensity prediction.

Originally Published in February 2015 by Shannon Jones

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Tropical Cyclones Worsen Ocean Acidification at Coral Reefs

While tropical cyclones can dramatically impact coral reefs, a recent study reveals their passage also exacerbates ocean acidification, rendering reef structures even more vulnerable to damage. Calcifying marine organisms such as corals that thrive in alkaline-rich waters are increasingly imperiled as seawater becomes more acidic due to the ocean’s uptake of carbon dioxide. The detrimental effects upon these organisms have been documented, but less is known about how reefs might react to ocean acidification when coupled with an additional stress factor such as a tropical cyclone.

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