Large volcanic eruptions can alter hurricane strength and frequency

Posted: April 3, 2019 by oldbrew in climate, modelling, Natural Variation, research, volcanos, weather
Tags: ,

Intertropical Convergence Zone [image credit: University of New Mexico]


Another aspect of natural variability in weather and climate patterns emerges.

A new study led by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory researcher Suzana Camargo and Université du Québec à Montréal’s Francesco Pausata provides deeper insight into how large volcanic eruptions affect hurricane activity, says Phys.org.

Previous studies could not clearly determine the effects of volcanic eruptions on hurricanes, because the few large volcanic eruptions in the last century coincided with El Niño-Southern Oscillation events, which also influence hurricane activity.

In the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Camargo and Pausata approached this relationship by simulating very large volcanic eruptions in the tropics multiple times. Their modeling told a more complex story than previous papers had indicated.

“This is the first study to explain the mechanism of how large volcanic eruptions influences hurricanes globally,” said Camargo.

According to their findings, large tropical volcanic eruptions can affect hurricanes by shifting the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a region that circles the Earth near the Equator and greatly influences rainfall and hurricane activity.

As the Intertropical Convergence Zone moves after a large volcanic eruption, it affects both the intensity and frequency of hurricanes, causing some regions to experience an increase in activity and other regions to experience a decrease.

For example, a large eruption in the tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere leads to a southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This results in an increase in hurricane activity between the Equator and the 10°N line, and a decrease further north.

The zone’s southward shift has further effects in the Southern Hemisphere, causing a decrease in activity on the coasts of Australia, Indonesia, and Tanzania, while Madagascar and Mozambique experience an increase.

These changes can last for up to four years following the eruption.

Camargo and Pausata were able to separate the effects of volcanic eruptions and El Niño-Southern Oscillation on hurricane activity and show the different impacts that the two factors have on hurricanes globally. Their findings are important in helping scientists better understand the relationship between volcanoes and hurricanes.

Source here.

Comments
  1. Gamecock says:

    Given ‘the few large volcanic eruptions in the last century,’ the significance of this study escapes me.

    ‘According to their findings, large tropical volcanic eruptions can affect hurricanes by shifting the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a region that circles the Earth near the Equator and greatly influences rainfall and hurricane activity.’

    That should come from observation, not ‘models.’

    ‘As the Intertropical Convergence Zone moves after a large volcanic eruption, it affects both the intensity and frequency of hurricanes, causing some regions to experience an increase in activity and other regions to experience a decrease.’

    Okay, maybe. But variability overwhelms such possible influences. Hurricanes are so random and infrequent, I think it impossible to tease such facts from the data – and ‘models’ aren’t data.

  2. JB says:

    @ Gamecock; Heyman to that! My guess is the significance of the “study” has more to do with who/what produced it than the actual report. As in, follow the money trail? Also, over the years I’ve observed numerous instances of members of the APA producing study reports confirming what people have generally known for decades about common behaviors, or repeat studies of previously performed studies over which the last “researchers” never bothered to learn had already been determined.

    In science, The left often knoweth not what the right doeth.

  3. oldbrew says:

    ITCZ: Role in tropical cyclone formation

    As the ITCZ migrates to tropical – subtropical latitudes and even beyond (Shandong province of the People’s Republic of China) during the respective hemisphere’s summer season, increasing Coriolis force makes the formation of tropical cyclones within this zone more possible. [bold added]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertropical_Convergence_Zone#Role_in_tropical_cyclone_formation

  4. Stephen Richards says:

    How in hell”‘s name can you separate the natural variation from the volcanic change and then the difference in hurricane force which varies continuously from 0 to 5.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Stephen Richards says: April 3, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    The answer seems to be:
    by simulating very large volcanic eruptions in the tropics multiple times.

  6. Stephen Richards says:

    Using useless modelling techniques, presumably.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Models alone, or even primarily, shouldn’t determine truth. That’s already a big problem in the climate arena, as we know.

    Real world supporting evidence is a must, or should be. Models may or may not provide useful clues.

  8. ivan says:

    Any study or prognosis from anyone that has the slightest thing to do with climate change that relies on models or even mentions them should be thrown out and the authors told to do it again using real measured data. People like this are giving science a very bad name

  9. Gamecock says:

    They call them ‘models’ to show they have a sense of humour.

  10. ivan says:

    Or do they call them models because they are like children playing and will throw a hissy fit if the grown-ups don’t like what they built.

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