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Science and technology – a fierce battle for hurricane season.  El Niño and extreme heat in the Atlantic Ocean are about to collide head-on

Science and technology – a fierce battle for hurricane season. El Niño and extreme heat in the Atlantic Ocean are about to collide head-on

Researchers believe that the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season directly depends on how this confrontation ends.

There is a 90% chance that El Niño will develop through August 2023, and it is also expected to remain strong through the fall peak of the hurricane season, which begins June 1 in the Atlantic Ocean. Now, meteorologists’ attention is focused on rising ocean temperatures, and not just in the Atlantic, he writes. IFLScience.

The researchers noted that global hurricane-producing sea surface temperatures were off the charts in the spring of 2023. However, the scientists noted that, in fact, temperature in only two places in the ocean is important for hurricanes: in the North Atlantic basin, where hurricanes are born and thrive, as well as In the middle-eastern equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean, where the El Niño phenomenon forms.

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The problem is that these two locations are literally opposite each other this year and are likely to collide head-on, negatively affecting critical conditions that make or break the Atlantic hurricane season. The good news is that the result may please the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts – it’s going to be an average hurricane season. The bad news is that everything can change under the influence of El Niño.

How are hurricanes born?

Hurricanes are more likely to form and intensify when a tropical low pressure system encounters an environment with higher ocean temperatures, atmospheric moisture, instability, and slight vertical wind shear.

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In simple words, warm ocean waters will provide the energy needed for hurricane development. Vertical wind shear, or the difference in wind strength and direction between the upper and lower regions of a tropical storm, stops storms and actually brings dry air into the storm, slowing its growth.

The role of the Atlantic Ocean

It plays a very minor role in this process—in fact, hurricanes draw energy from the warm ocean waters beneath them: the higher the temperature, the better for the hurricane.

Studies show that years with exceptionally high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are marked by the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons. For example:

  • 2020 – a record 30 tropical cyclones;
  • 2005 – 28 named storms, 15 of which became hurricanes.

Pacific Paper

The tropical Pacific Ocean plays a more complex role in the formation of Atlantic hurricanes. The answer lies in telecommunications, a series of processes in which a change in the state of the ocean or atmosphere in one area leads to significant changes in circulation or temperature in another.

One recurring pattern of tropical Pacific climate variability that triggers communications is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The researchers note that when the tropical Pacific Ocean is very hot, an El Niño can form, causing higher temperatures in the upper part of the ocean. This, in turn, will change the vertical atmospheric circulation and east-west in the tropics.

This will create connections, affecting the east and west winds in the upper atmosphere over the tropics, which will eventually lead to severe vertical shear on a large scale in the Atlantic basin. And he will be able to suppress hurricanes. Researchers believe that this is exactly what should happen this summer.

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El Niño vs. the Atlantic heat wave

According to Christine Patricola, associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Iowa State University, the research indicates that the warm Atlantic and tropical Pacific could collide, resulting in a near-average Atlantic hurricane season.

This prediction was confirmed by observations and modeling. For example, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2023 forecast, it predicts 12-17 named storms for the current year, while 5-9 of them will become hurricanes and 1-5 will develop into major hurricanes.

What could go wrong

Unfortunately, not only tropical temperatures in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans play an important role, but other factors as well. First, the El Niño phenomenon. If one of the predictions, El Niño or the warming of the Atlantic Ocean, does not come true, this could tip the scales. Second, the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a pattern of clouds and precipitation that moves across the tropics over 30 to 90 days, can either stimulate or suppress storm formation. Thirdly, dust storms, which contain hot, dry and dusty air from Africa, play an important role and can suppress tropical cyclones.

previously to focus He wrote that El Niño is “knocking on the door”: scientists warn that record heat waves will hit the Earth.