Free «Hurricanes and Sea Surface Temperature» Essay Sample


The conditions of climate and weather on the planet are constantly changing. As inhabitants of the planet, we constantly feel the results of these changes and how they impact our life. However, all these processes have a number of early indicators. Whenever there is a problem, natural phenomena indicate this problem before it actually occurs to a large extent. Many of these phenomena are natural disasters, and that is why they are so widely studied by the scientists around the world.

In this research paper, it is proposed to look at the correlation between the hurricanes and the sea surface temperature. Research indicates that ‘idealized hurricanes, simulated under warmer, high-CO2 conditions, are more intense and have higher precipitation rates than under present-day conditions’ (Knutson & Tuleya, 2004, p. 3477). Therefore, they are likely to affect the temperature changes which also influences the changes in the sea surface temperature as a result.

The impact from examination of such correlation can be very important in terms of hurricane forecasting and climate change modeling. Both processes are part of our daily life requirements, and forecasting of hurricanes in particular can save a lot of lives of people in the areas where the hurricanes are likely to occur. Therefore, research in the field of hurricanes and the sea surface temperature is needed.

This paper provides a general exploration of the process. The data collected indicates the existence of correlation and the factors which affect correlation expansion. However, the research does not cover the issues related to managing the connection between the hurricanes and the sea surface temperature which is explained in detail in the ‘Limitations’ section.

The overall meaning of research in the area of hurricanes and the natural processes they are likely to affect can be a solid foundation for climate prediction, meteorology, and the ocean studies. The significance of the research is also supported by the fact that ‘late twentieth century tropospheric aerosol cooling has offset a substantial fraction of anthropogenic warming in the region and has thus likely suppressed even greater potential increases in tropical cyclone activity’, as Mann and Emanuel (2006, p. 233) mention.

For this reason, the research indicates the two specific areas of investigation: the first is covering the general correlation between the processes, and the second looks for the changes in the processes associated with the factors that cause both hurricanes and changes in sea surface temperature to occur. The second area includes climate models.

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It is important to mention, that there is recently a lot of information about the fact that hurricanes affect sea surface temperature, but the exploration of the process in detail is only covered in a few studies (Fisher, 1957; Curry, 2008). At the same time, climate factors affecting both processes are rarely mentioned (Cione & Uhlhorn, 2003).

Data collection and analysis

Newell and Weare (1977) have examined the connection between carbon dioxide and sea surface temperature and found that ‘there is a spatial and a temporal correspondence between changes in Pacific sea surface temperature and changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide’ (p. 1). At the same time, other research findings indicate that anthropogenic factors are the major cause of increasing activity of cyclones and warmth in tropical Atlantic area (Mann & Emanuel, 2006). As a natural process, warm temperature and cyclones in the ocean area increase the probability of hurricanes. At the same time, recent investigation of the ocean temperature before and after the hurricane Betsy in 1965 confirmed the correlation between the hurricane activity and the changes in the sea surface temperature. The results indicate that ‘hurricanes do cause  well defined  areas  of  cold  water to  occur  at  the sea surface in  their  wakes’ (McFadden, 1967, p. 302).

Therefore, concluding the data collected from the research, hurricanes are closely connected to the sea surface temperature. Moreover, they are caused by the changes in the sea surface temperature. Data collection shows that hurricanes are following the warm water areas in the ocean and therefore are closely related to the climate changes (Newell & Weare, 1977; Cione & Uhlhorn, 2003). At the same time, research proposes another phenomenon which should not be forgotten to mention: the creation of the cold water pools behind the hurricanes during some periods of their activity (Fisher, 1957).

In order to see how this connection looks like, it is proposed to look at two separate graphs. Firgure 1 describes the number of hurricanes by date and intensity:

As seen from the Figure, the recent activity of the hurricanes is increasing rapidly from the middle of 1980s and suffered insignificant decline after 1999. Figure 2 shows the changes in the sea surface temperature in the areas of the ocean where the hurricanes occur more frequently than in other areas:

Discussion and conclusions

Both graphs describe different processes which are connected due to a number of reasons. Figures 1 and 2 show decrease in both the hurricane activity and the sea surface temperature in the period between 1999 and 2004. Besides that, both graphs are closely related, that is why the results of previous research about the correlation between the processes are proven. At the same time, hurricane activity shows that only the significant impact from the sea surface temperature serves as reaction from the side of hurricanes. That is why, the recent evidence that the carbon dioxide affecting the warmth of the ocean can be the factor of hurricane activity, is also confirmed by the data analysis.

The findings of research are essential for the development of hurricane forecasting. Due to technological reasons, there is still a limited amount of data on sea surface temperature, especially if investigated during the hurricane activity in the ocean. As Cione and Uhlhorn (2003) mention, ‘issues such as nearly continuous cloud cover, 10–20-m ocean waves, and wind speeds in excess of 50 m s21 make this region dif%uFB01cult for in situ platforms to survive, dangerous to traverse/circumnavigate, and nearly impossible for remote satellites to fully document’ (p. 1783).

That is why, the research in the area will allow making inferences not only about the factors of the hurricane activity which include the sea surface temperature influenced by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (greenhouse effect) as indicated in this research paper, but examine how this influence occurs, and how carbon dioxide can be managed in order to prevent and forecast hurricanes. At the same time, due to the fact that researchers also investigate the relationship between the sea surface temperature and the hurricane intensity (Michaels, Knappenberger and Davis, 2006), the accurate assessment of the relationship caused by the greenhouse effect will help generate parameters for hurricane intensity forecasting and movement.


The research was conducted with only the secondary data, which was used for analysis due to the limited time frame. The resources applied for data collection did not allow conduction quantitative analysis with the help of climate models. That is why the findings of research are based on analytical data analysis. In general, the research is generalized. However, it helps find the interesting gap for hurricane activity analysis in the future. Perhaps, the relationship which was found by the research should be examined in detail and in relation to greenhouse effect.


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