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Conservation Lecture Series
April 10, 2014
Although hurricanes are atmospheric phenomena, they are inherently tied to the ocean, which provides the energy to generate and sustain them. Understanding the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere at the air-sea interface is critical for predicting hurricane intensification. However, much of ocean’s role in hurricanes lies below the surface, possibly as deep as the sea floor.
Dr. Morey will discuss the ocean’s role in hurricanes including the upper layer heat reservoir fueling the storms and the damaging storm surges and waves. He will present recent findings that are now being used to enhance predictions. Advances in ocean model experimentation and oceanic observations also reveal new understanding of how the ocean responds to hurricanes. Strong currents may be generated over a mile deep, and persist for more than a week following the storm. The upper ocean thermal and biochemical properties are significantly modified during a hurricane. These impacts of a hurricane on the ocean can affect deepwater structures such as pipelines and risers, marine ecosystems, transport of contaminants (such as an oil spill) and intensification of subsequent storms passing over the region.