Solar impacts on hurricanes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 13. toukokuuta 2010 klo 14:36 (GMT)

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I'm in Tucson for the American Meteorological Society's 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. This is the premier scientific conference on hurricanes, and is held only once every two years, so pretty much all of the world's greatest hurricane experts are here. One of the more intriguing posters presented at Tuesday's poster session was titled, Evidence linking solar variability with USA hurricanes, by Robert Hodges and Jim Elsner of Florida State University. They showed that the probability of three or more hurricanes hitting the U.S. during a hurricane season with warmer than average sea surface temperatures increases dramatically during minima in the 11-year sunspot cycle. The odds increase from 20% to 40% for years when the sunspot activity is in the lower 25% of the sunspot cycle, compared to years in the upper 25% of the cycle. Near the peak of the sunspot cycle, the odds of at least one hurricane hitting the U.S. are just 25%, but at solar minimum, the odds increase sharply to 64%. The authors studied the period 1851 - 2008, and controlled for other variables such as changes in sea surface temperature and El Niño. Such a large impact of the sun on hurricanes might seem surprising, given that the change in solar energy at all light wavelengths is only about 0.1%. This relatively small change causes just a 0.1°C change in Earth's mean surface temperature between the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle (high solar activity) and the minimum of the sunspot cycle (where we are now.) However, variation in radiation between extrema of the solar cycle can be 10% or more in portions of the UV range (Elsner et al., 2008.) The strong change in UV light causes globally averaged temperature swings in the lower stratosphere of 0.4°C between the minimum and maximum of the sunspot cycle--four times as great as the difference measured at Earth's surface (Lean, 2009). This sensitivity of the stratosphere to UV light is due to the fact the ozone layer is located in the stratosphere. Ozone absorbs a large amount of UV light, causing the stratosphere to heat up when solar activity is high. The authors speculate that a warmer stratosphere then heats up the upper troposphere, making the atmosphere more stable. An unstable atmosphere--with hot temperatures at the surface and cold conditions in the upper troposphere--are conducive for stronger hurricanes. Thus, we would expect to see reductions in hurricanes during the peak of the sunspot cycle.

Previous research
The findings presented at this week's conference build upon earlier work published by Elsner et al. (2008) and Elsner et al. (2010). The first of these studies found that for every 100 extra sunspots in September, the temperature of the atmosphere at 16 km altitude over the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico increased by about 0.5°C, and the number of hurricanes in this region was reduced by 26%. Interestingly, a reduction of hurricanes over the eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa was not observed during solar maxima, which the authors attributed to the fact that hurricanes in this region are limited by sea surface temperature, not instability. Solar maximum brings a small increase in sea surface temperature to the globe, aiding hurricane development in regions where sea surface temperature is the limiting factor. The second of these studies (Elsner et al., 2010) computed that for a Category 2 hurricane affecting the U.S. during the most active 30% range of the solar cycle, the resultant heating of the upper troposphere would cause a 19% decrease in the stability, lowering the hurricane's winds by 10% (10 mph.) Stronger hurricanes would be affected even more, with a potential wind speed reduction of 23 mph for the most powerful hurricanes. The 27-day rotation period of the sun causes a change in UV light even larger than the change observed during the 11-year sunspot cycle, so perhaps we should be monitoring the phase of the sun's rotation to look for more favorable periods for hurricane formation.

Commentary
Considering that this year we are at the deepest solar minimum in more than a century, this research gives us yet another reason to expect a severe Atlantic hurricane season this year. My next post, which may not be until Monday, I'll discuss the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic hurricane main development region, which set an all-time record last month for the warmest monthly anomaly for the 100+ years we have records. Also, El Niño now appears to be over, as sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific have crossed the threshold into neutral territory.

References
Elsner, J. B., and T. H. Jagger, 2008, United States and Caribbean tropical cyclone activity related to the solar cycle, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L18705, doi:10.1029/2008GL034431.

Elsner, J. B., T. H. Jagger, and R. E. Hodges, 2010, Daily tropical cyclone intensity response to solar ultraviolet radiation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L09701, doi:10.1029/2010GL043091.

Lean, J.L., 2009, Cycles and trends in solar irradiance and climate", Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 111-122 Published Online: 22 Dec 2009

Jeff Masters

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1866. BahaHurican
16. toukokuuta 2010 klo 00:51 (GMT)
Evening all.

Quoting StormJunkie:
Afternoon all...

I see we've already broken out the HeRbert boxes...lol

I'm off to the pool with a beer in tow...too nice to be inside today.

Y'all have fun.
IMO, it's the best time TO break 'em out... lol.... before they can do any real damage.... lol

Would like to say it's good to see so many of the "oldtimers" joining in early this year....
Member Since: 25.10.2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20684
1865. LemieT
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 21:05 (GMT)
Quoting Weather456:


Unfortunately this is a sign of things to come

If anyone missed it:

May 15-31 Outlook


Great outlook W456, you've explained the relationship between factors quite nicely.
Member Since: 15.08.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
1864. stormhank
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:48 (GMT)
weather456 thanks for the link to your ourlook bro... very well written and informative....Do any of you think we could pass the 200 number on the ACE index this year?? that would be awful..Im scared some parts of the coasts are going to get struck this year
Member Since: 8.09.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1382
1863. xcool
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:10 (GMT)
NEW BLOG
Member Since: 26.09.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1862. WatchingThisOne
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:06 (GMT)
Quoting Grothar:


What about Canadian Bacon?


Already covered. I nominate "Nanaimo bars."
Member Since: 15.07.2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1259
1861. pottery
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:05 (GMT)
WTO, WUMail in your in-box...
Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23080
1860. gordydunnot
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:05 (GMT)
Nice job 456, Side note BP thinks they will have plug straw contraption working sometime tonight. Also Icelandic volcano looks like its on a roll today.
Member Since: 18.08.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3109
1859. xcool
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:04 (GMT)
how about Dry Air ???
Member Since: 26.09.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1858. atmoaggie
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:04 (GMT)
new blog
Member Since: 16.08.2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1857. WatchingThisOne
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:03 (GMT)
#1781 dxdy ... I'm not sure I've ever seen so much misinformation crammed into one post. Yes, the oil spill is very serious, but wow ... please refrain from posting about the spill. You are just spreading hysteria at a time when what we really need is solid information and cool heads.

WTO
Member Since: 15.07.2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1259
1856. barbamz
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 20:03 (GMT)
Good night from Germany with this fresh screenshot from fascinating "E" scenery

Click to enlarge
vodafone live webcam Eijafjallajökull
Maybe Monday air traffic will be shut down in Germany again ...
Member Since: 25.10.2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4997
1855. Cavin Rawlins
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:59 (GMT)
Quoting stormhank:
Waves this early looking that impressive is kinda scary...hopefully not a sign of whats to come


Unfortunately this is a sign of things to come

If anyone missed it:

May 15-31 Outlook
Member Since: 24.07.2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1854. stormhank
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:51 (GMT)
Waves this early looking that impressive is kinda scary...hopefully not a sign of whats to come
Member Since: 8.09.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1382
1853. NOVArules
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:40 (GMT)



Look at that blob in Africa...
Member Since: 26.08.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 178
1852. LemieT
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:30 (GMT)
Quoting reedzone:
It's an impressive wave, but a whole lot of seasonal shear to it's north. Guys, it's just too early for this to get further. Though the convection has waned, the structure has improved. It's an interesting little critter.


Certainly looks interesting from where I'm sitting. Seems like we may be getting some passing showers tomorrow in Barbados if this thing holds together. All signs point to an interesting season.
Member Since: 15.08.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
1851. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:27 (GMT)
Quoting wxmobilejim:

Where did you get that map? How often does it update?


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/TCFP/atlantic.html
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1850. wxmobilejim
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:26 (GMT)
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
well they have this on our AOI/tropical wave


Where did you get that map? How often does it update?
Member Since: 11.05.2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 231
1849. pottery
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:24 (GMT)
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
shear to it nw is causing it to disapate as it gets closer to tou most of convection has wane with a indication of increasing convection but small at the moment

That's what I am seeing too, Keeper.
Member Since: 24.10.2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23080
1848. reedzone
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:19 (GMT)
It's an impressive wave, but a whole lot of seasonal shear to it's north. Guys, it's just too early for this to get further. Though the convection has waned, the structure has improved. It's an interesting little critter.
Member Since: 1.07.2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1847. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:16 (GMT)
1846.) Yikes Keeper that is some nasty shear, I notice the area TS Claudette formed is decent however.
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1846. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:14 (GMT)
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52096
1845. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:11 (GMT)
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
shear to it nw is causing it to disapate as it gets closer to tou most of convection has wane with a indication of increasing convection but small at the moment


If it can hold on to some of its circulation, it might be able to pass through the shear and then redevelop convection.
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1844. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:10 (GMT)
Quoting pottery:

...seems to be losing some convection on its West, when you look at the most recent loops.
I am wondering if the existing strong upper level flow will blow a lot of it off to the NorthEast> ??
shear to it nw is causing it to disapate as it gets closer to tou most of convection has wane with a indication of increasing convection but small at the moment
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52096
1843. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:10 (GMT)
Quoting kingy:
what SST's is that wave over ?


28.3ish
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1842. reedzone
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:10 (GMT)
The wave in the Atlantic is amazingly strengthening, showing convection, I have seen storms develop as far south as it is, but not in May.. This is something lol. Great outflow as well, still has ways to go before Invest 90L is tagged, if it happens.
Member Since: 1.07.2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1841. xcool
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:10 (GMT)
81f i think
Member Since: 26.09.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1840. Hurricanes101
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:08 (GMT)
Quoting kingy:
what SST's is that wave over ?


29-30C
Member Since: 10.03.2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7233
1839. xcool
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:08 (GMT)



Member Since: 26.09.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1838. kingy
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:08 (GMT)
what SST's is that wave over ?
1837. tropicaltank
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:07 (GMT)
We just got hammered in Gulfport from GOM Thunderstorms.
Member Since: 27.06.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1836. xcool
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:05 (GMT)
SATURDAY 7:30 AM

UPWARD MOTION STARTING IN DEEP TROPICS

A look at this mornings cloud shot in the atlantic

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/avn-l.jpg

indicates that the sinking air that 1) has been dominating the tropics near 10 north so far this month i and 2) been the precursor to the "suddenly its summer" pattern that will develop in the plains, is coming off. This is in line with the worry that once to the last week of May and beyond, an early start to the hurricane season is in the works

anyway, lets see if the Caribbean gets into the act next week

by joe
Member Since: 26.09.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1835. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:04 (GMT)
Quoting tropicaltank:
Did Claudette make it to GOM?


Aye, it did... landfall in the florida panhandle. Its radar image is my current avatar.
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1834. xcool
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:04 (GMT)
wow "I Remember That''s wave oh wow
Member Since: 26.09.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1833. Hurricanes101
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:04 (GMT)
Quoting tropicaltank:
Did Claudette make it to GOM?


Claudette made landfall as a TS in NE Florida
Member Since: 10.03.2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7233
1832. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:03 (GMT)
Quoting tropicaltank:
Invest 90l a possibility.


At the very best thats probably what it will become... Im not too optimistic as of yet especially after being let down last night
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1831. tropicaltank
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:03 (GMT)
Did Claudette make it to GOM?
Member Since: 27.06.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1830. MiamiHurricanes09
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:01 (GMT)
Upper level divergence


Lower level convergence


Wow the system is strengthening.
Member Since: 2.09.2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
1829. tropicaltank
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 19:01 (GMT)
Invest 90l a possibility.
Member Since: 27.06.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1828. MrstormX
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:59 (GMT)
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
If it can get to blue by the day's end I will be very interested.


This reminds me of the wave that claudette eventually formed off of, it came from Africa lost its convection in the Caribbean due to shear but eventually reorganized.
Member Since: 27.05.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
1827. tropicaltank
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:59 (GMT)
Im no expert,but that wave at 53-55w does look more organized.
Member Since: 27.06.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1826. CybrTeddy
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:58 (GMT)
Worth noting that the GFS predicts something to develop around the 17th in the Western Caribbean.. although weak, slow, and very small. The GFS has been very consistent for a few weeks on a Caribbean May storm.. we'll have to keep an eye on it, as the GFS did well in 2008 as long as it was consistent. The wave out by South America COULD be the wave that spawns the GFS system.

Link
Member Since: 8.07.2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23009
1825. HurricaneSwirl
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:56 (GMT)
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
If it can get to blue by the day's end I will be very interested.


Me too. I agree with others that it could be a bad omen. How often does the map update?
Member Since: 7.07.2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1824. HurricaneGeek
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:55 (GMT)
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
If it can get to blue by the day's end I will be very interested.


I have never seen one be PINK before, not even really green o yellow. Why?
Member Since: 10.05.2007 Posts: 110 Comments: 7039
1823. HurricaneSwirl
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:55 (GMT)
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
On satellite animation it seems to be moving northward. I am being impressed by this wave and if it can make itself more to the north I think Invest 90L will happen soon.


If it can make itself more to the north, wouldn't it be ripped apart by shear? Or is shear retreating? Shear gets pretty insane to the north from the map in post 1801.

Also, 1817, wow, I'm pretty impressed. I have a question about that map, though. (It's probably an idiotic question) Why is the end of the scale 12%+? Rather than something like 60+.
Member Since: 7.07.2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1822. JRRP
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:55 (GMT)
Quoting HurricaneGeek:
SI lo sé =)... Nunca pensé que pudiera practicar mi espanol aqui! jajaja

lol
Member Since: 16.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5073
1821. MiamiHurricanes09
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:53 (GMT)
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
well they have this on our AOI/tropical wave

If it can get to blue by the day's end I will be very interested.
Member Since: 2.09.2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
1820. cg2916
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:51 (GMT)
Quoting Weather456:
Nasty looking wave



Yup
Member Since: 21.12.2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3026
1819. kingy
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:51 (GMT)
Quoting Patrap:
Oil Spill Radar Image from CSTARS, May 14, 2010


ESL by LSU


that southern slug of the slick is getting closer to the loop current
1818. HurricaneGeek
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:50 (GMT)
First darker shade of purple of the year! =)
Member Since: 10.05.2007 Posts: 110 Comments: 7039
1817. wunderkidcayman
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:50 (GMT)
well they have this on our AOI/tropical wave

Member Since: 13.06.2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9547
1816. MiamiHurricanes09
15. toukokuuta 2010 klo 18:49 (GMT)
Quoting Weather456:
Nasty looking wave

On satellite animation it seems to be moving northward. I am being impressed by this wave and if it can make itself more to the north I think Invest 90L will happen soon.
Member Since: 2.09.2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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