Hurricanes Affected by Ocean Colour

ocean colour

The colour of the ocean might have a lot to do with the formation of hurricanes, according to a new research study.

A simulation of the change in ocean colour in one region of the North Pacific saw hurricane formation drop by 70 percent. Apparently, the formation of hurricanes is heavily mediated by the presence of chlorophyll which itself contributes to the oceans colour.

“We think of the oceans as blue, but the oceans aren’t really blue, they’re actually a sort of greenish color,” said Anand Gnanadesikan, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey. “The fact that [the oceans] are not blue has a [direct] impact on the distribution of tropical cyclones.”

In the study, to be published in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Gnanadesikan’s team describes how a drop in chlorophyll concentration, and the corresponding reduction in ocean color, could cause a decrease in the formation of hurricanes in the color-depleted zone. Although the study looks at the effects of a simulated drop in the phytoplankton population (and therefore in the ocean’s green tint), recently-published research argued that global phytoplankton populations have been steadily declining over the last century.

Read more of the American Geophysical Union’s findings here.

Photo Credit: alles-schlumpf via flickr

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