Study ties hurricanes to Sahara

April 3, 2007

A U.S. government study suggests that the relatively tame 2006 hurricane season may have been tied to activity in Africa's Sahara desert.

The study, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, found that several major dust storms in June and July in the Sahara sent dust drifting over the Atlantic Ocean, where it prevented sunlight from reaching the water, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The lack of sunlight cooled the waters and the dust absorbed the heat, warming the atmosphere and contributing to increased surface winds that aid in evaporation and ocean churning, further cooling the waters.

"This research is the first to show that dust does have a major effect on seasonal hurricane activity," said William Lau, lead author and chief of the Laboratory for Atmospheres at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Only five hurricanes and four tropical storms were recorded in 2006, a marked decrease from the 15 hurricanes and 12 tropical storms recorded in 2005.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Since Katrina: NASA advances storm models, science

Related Stories

Since Katrina: NASA advances storm models, science

August 21, 2015

On Aug. 28, 2005, the National Hurricane Center issued a public notice warning people in New Orleans of "devastating damage expected...power outages will last for weeks...persons...pets...and livestock left exposed to the ...

The Planet Saturn

August 3, 2015

The farthest planet from the Sun that be observed with the naked eye, the existence of Saturn has been known for thousands of years. And much like all celestial bodies that can be observed with the aid of instruments – ...

Tracking dust across the Atlantic

September 13, 2013

Hundreds of millions of tons of dust are picked up from the deserts of Africa and blown across the Atlantic Ocean each year. That dust helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilize soils in the Amazon. It affects air ...

African dust clouds worry Caribbean scientists

August 27, 2013

Each summer, microscopic dust particles kicked up by African sandstorms blow thousands of miles (kilometers) across the Atlantic to arrive in the Caribbean, limiting airplane pilots' visibility to just a few miles and contributing ...

Recommended for you

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.