Monday, July 12, 2010

Study Questions Hurricane Intensity Forecasts

According to recently published research by the Mathematics Research Centre (CRM) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, there is a definite mathematical relation between the number of hurricanes produced in certain parts of the world and the amount of energy they release. The research is now published in the Nature Physics online journal and suggests that the evolution of hurricane intensity will be very difficult to predict and that such forecasts could never be feasible.

The research was concluded from a comprehensive set of data in which the two arms analyzed tropical cyclones that have occurred across the globe between 1945 and 2007.
The first conclusion states that a hurricane's dynamics can be the result of a critical process, therefore making it impossible to predict its intensity. The second conclusion is related to the effects of global warming on the behavior of tropical cyclones, stating that the recent increase in activity cannot be explained 'solely' on the basis of climate change.

The final discovery supports the fact that hurricanes follow a precise mathematical formula known as a power-law.
The number of hurricanes is inversely proportional to the energy released, except for the highest values of energy, where the relation is suddenly interrupted. In other words, the cut-off point where the power-law does not represent the behavior of hurricanes is influenced by factors such as average sea surface temperature and the El Niño phenomenon.

Pretty interesting stuff! Learn more about the study here.

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