Hurricane Scientist – How are hurricanes formed?

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ambience: Fiji Hurricane

Hurricanes are a familiar late summer occurrence, but scientists are still trying to figure out how and why a thunderstorm turns into a hurricane. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Robbie Hood is an Atmospheric Scientist at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

“We have been studying hurricanes for quite some time and what we know about hurricanes is we know what the basic ingredients are. To build a hurricane, you need a warm ocean of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And then the ocean needs to be that temperature down to at least 150 feet. You also need a moist atmosphere and a disturbance like a thunderstorm or a convective storm with some buoyancy that can start building. And basically a hurricane gets started from a thunderstorm, or group of thunderstorms that start to organize and develop a spinning action, and from there it builds into something bigger. And what we’re trying to understand with our experiments is what makes these hurricanes start spinning? Does the spinning start at the ocean and go up and start to build into something bigger, or does it actually start higher up in the atmosphere? We’re trying to study the relationships of what these super tall thunderstorms, they’re actually called hot towers because they shoot up so high. We’re studying whether that can be an indication of future intensity change. Because the more intense the thunderstorms are inside the hurricane, what’s the relationship to the total storm, and how do the embedded thunderstorms that are really intense work with the rest of the storm? And how does that relationship affect the overall intensity? Studying hurricanes is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle together. We’ve got parts of the puzzle put together, so you can kind of see the picture, but we don’t have the whole puzzle put together yet. And we know some of the things that are important, but we still don’t know the fine scale relationships of how things work together.”

We’ll learn more about how scientists study hurricanes on future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. With additional support from NASA. I’m Jim Metzner.

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Hurricane Scientist - How are hurricanes formed?

Scientists think they have all of the ingredients, but still aren't sure what makes a storm turn into a hurricane.
Air Date:08/03/2006
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: Fiji Hurricane

Hurricanes are a familiar late summer occurrence, but scientists are still trying to figure out how and why a thunderstorm turns into a hurricane. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Robbie Hood is an Atmospheric Scientist at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

“We have been studying hurricanes for quite some time and what we know about hurricanes is we know what the basic ingredients are. To build a hurricane, you need a warm ocean of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And then the ocean needs to be that temperature down to at least 150 feet. You also need a moist atmosphere and a disturbance like a thunderstorm or a convective storm with some buoyancy that can start building. And basically a hurricane gets started from a thunderstorm, or group of thunderstorms that start to organize and develop a spinning action, and from there it builds into something bigger. And what we’re trying to understand with our experiments is what makes these hurricanes start spinning? Does the spinning start at the ocean and go up and start to build into something bigger, or does it actually start higher up in the atmosphere? We’re trying to study the relationships of what these super tall thunderstorms, they’re actually called hot towers because they shoot up so high. We’re studying whether that can be an indication of future intensity change. Because the more intense the thunderstorms are inside the hurricane, what’s the relationship to the total storm, and how do the embedded thunderstorms that are really intense work with the rest of the storm? And how does that relationship affect the overall intensity? Studying hurricanes is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle together. We’ve got parts of the puzzle put together, so you can kind of see the picture, but we don’t have the whole puzzle put together yet. And we know some of the things that are important, but we still don’t know the fine scale relationships of how things work together.”

We’ll learn more about how scientists study hurricanes on future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. With additional support from NASA. I'm Jim Metzner.

music