TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Arctic ice may tell paths of hurricane, scientists say

Daily Photo Galleries

By Sun Sentinel
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
 

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A hurricane hunter aircraft sent to the Arctic to study ice formations returned this month with critical data that might explain why an increasing number of tropical storms seem to be taking irregular paths.

Scientists are trying to determine how much heat is released into the atmosphere when Arctic ice builds in autumn. That heat release is believed to shift the jet stream — a fast-moving, high-altitude river of air — farther to the south.

That shift, in turn, might be slowing or even stalling tropical systems before they can re-curve east and head out to sea, scientists say.

Kevin Wood, a University of Washington research scientist aboard the plane, said the Arctic heat release might trigger other extreme weather events, such as flooding or severe snowstorms.

“That's far from proven,” he said. “But it's one of things we're interested in understanding better.”

Primarily, however, scientists hope the battery of sensors onboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's WP-3 Orion might help them understand why Superstorm Sandy plowed into the East Coast last year and why eight systems aimed at Canada or the Northeast in the past three years.

“The very unusual path that Sandy took last year was definitely due to disruptions in the global circulation, and maybe that was related to changes in the Arctic,” said Nick Bond, a University of Washington scientist who rode on the plane during its inaugural Arctic mission.

In October 2012, Sandy emerged in the Caribbean as a tropical storm, grew into a hurricane and initially began to curve northeast on a path that would have taken it toward the North Atlantic.

Instead, Sandy curved northwest toward the New Jersey coastline, collided with a winter system and swamped much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with a powerful storm surge.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care
  2. Carnegie Mellon expert to school Congress on security
  3. Tribune-Review poll: Cable news rises as network news falls
  4. EPA ripped for evading request for information
  5. Natural gas royalties lawsuit hinges on transaction date
  6. Dems keep blocking joint negotiations on immigration orders
  7. Supreme Court justices split on states’ panels to prevent gerrymandering
  8. IRS audits of businesses reach 8-year low
  9. Maryland’s Senator Mikulski announces retirement
  10. Several states in path of wintry blasts
  11. Los Angeles rookie officer claims shooting victim grabbed his gun