The Corpus Callosum

Why So Few Hurricanes in 2006?


Dampens Hurricane Formation
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I’m hardly an expert, but it appears that there is some evidence that
the amount of dust in the air over the Atlantic is a factor in
determining the severity of the hurricane season.  More dust =
less ocean warming.  Like so many things, this is hypothetical:

face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif">Using dust observations
collected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s
Aura satellite, they found that the Sahara sent an unusually large
amount of dust over the Atlantic during the 2006 hurricane season. By
blocking incoming sunlight, the researchers say, the dust could have
caused the widespread cooling of the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean,
subduing hurricanes. The researchers don’t yet know how great
a part dust played in derailing hurricane formation in 2006, but they
hope their work will fuel more studies.

All those satellites are good for something.  Could there be
a practical application to this?  That’s hard to imagine, in
the sense that it would be tough to deliberately generate more dust in
order to curb hurricanes.  But it could help with modeling for
the sake of prediction.  


  1. #1 Jeb, FCD
    April 18, 2007

    So, is the dust blown in by El Nino?

  2. #2 Ahcuah
    April 18, 2007

    By the way, here is a news story about a computer simulation that suggests that wind shear in a warmed world may decrease the number of hurricanes.

  3. #3 brian
    April 20, 2007

    >All those satellites are good for something. Could there be a practical application to this?

    Are you actually skeptical about the usefulness of satellite observations of Earth? Frankly, since the inception of “weather satellites,” in the 1970s, our understanding of weather and climate has exponentially increased. A major contribution from the satellites is for validation of ideas and models of large-scale circulations, and another is the ongoing and ever increasing quantification of the atmospheric composition and thermodynamic structure, which is especially important in otherwise data-sparse regions (e.g., the entire southern hemisphere!).

  4. #4 Jon H
    April 20, 2007

    Hm. Provide cheap airfare to Western Africa, and cheap prices for Sahara dune buggy races, and market the heck out of them as a new fad in adventure travel. That’d help increase the amount of dust kicked into the air.