Study: Unusually warm sea temperatures fueled Harvey’s devastating rains

This article discusses the relationship between hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains and climate change. A warming climate could lead to more deadly hurricanes.

According to new research, the heavy rainfall was a direct result of unusually warm temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Trenberth: “In the case of Harvey, we were able to use new measurements before and after to assess the ocean heat content in much more detail than we’ve ever been able to do before.”

That’s Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He says that during a hurricane, warm ocean water evaporates into the atmosphere, where its energy fuels the storm’s swirling winds. And, the evaporated water creates moisture that then condenses into rain.

Trenberth’s research on Hurricane Harvey found that the amount of heat energy released from the ocean matched the energy released as the hurricane converted that moisture into rainfall.

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