Effect of Hurricanes on Sea Surface Temperatures

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Travis James Bush, Berlin, MD

Handout (493.3 kB)

Hurricanes need warm sea surface temperatures in order to intensify and maintain their strength; if a strengthening storm moves over warmer water the intensification tends to be extremely rapid. As hurricanes move over the water they cause upwelling, resulting in cooler water being brought to the surface. It is anticipated that the differences in sea surface temperature (before and after passing over the region) are directly related to the strength of the hurricane. This study focused on an area between 20-30 degrees north latitude and 80-95 degrees west latitude from 2000-2010. Each hurricane that formed or passed through this region was tracked by an advisory number; thus only the advisories when the hurricane was at hurricane strength were analyzed. Each hurricane track was plotted with GIS software using the advisory information for further analysis. Next, I analyzed the hurricanes based on their maximum intensity using the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. I then examined if the month that the hurricane occurred had an effect on the before and after difference in the sea surface temperature. The final goal was to find correlations between the differences in the sea surface temperature based on the multiple variables. These results may potentially increase our ability to forecast the intensity of a hurricane farther into the future, which would lead to a better informed society that lies in the path.