Record-breaking ocean heat fueled Hurricane Harvey

May 10, 2018 by Laura Snider, National Center for Atmospheric Research
An image of Hurricane Harvey taken by the GOES-16 satellite as the storm collided with the Texas coast. Credit: NASA.

In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf's waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

These hotter-than-normal conditions supercharged the , fueling it with vast stores of moisture, the authors found. When it stalled near the Houston area, the resulting rains broke precipitation records and caused devastating flooding.

"We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of evaporated from the unusually warm ," said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. "As continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey."

Despite a busy 2017 season, Hurricane Harvey was more or less isolated in location and time, traveling solo over relatively undisturbed waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This gave Trenberth and his colleagues an opportunity to study in detail how the storm fed off the heat stored in that 930-mile wide ocean basin.

The team compared temperatures in the upper 160 meters (525 feet) of the Gulf before and after the storm using data collected by Argo, a network of autonomous floats that measure temperature as they move up and down in the water. To measure rainfall over land, the scientists took advantage of a new NASA-based international satellite mission, dubbed Global Precipitation Measurement.

The study appears in the journal Earth's Future, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor. Other co-authors of the paper are Yongxin Zhang and John Fasullo, also of NCAR; Lijing Cheng, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Peter Jacobs, of George Mason University.

Matching evaporation and rain

As hurricanes move over the ocean, their strong winds strafe the sea surface, making it easier for water to evaporate. The process of evaporation also requires energy from heat, and the warmer the temperatures are in the upper ocean and at the ocean surface, the more energy is available.

As the storm progresses over the ocean, evaporating water as it goes, it leaves a cold wake in its path. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, the scientists found the cold wake was not very cold. So much heat was available in the upper layer of the ocean that, as the surface temperature was cooled from the storm, heat from below welled up, rewarming the surface waters and continuing to feed the storm.

The near-surface ocean temperature before the storm's passage was upward of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and after passage the temperature was still around 28.5 C (83 F). Sea surface temperatures above 26 C (79 F) are typically needed for a hurricane to continue to grow.

Even after Harvey made landfall, its arms reached out over the ocean, continuing to draw strength (and water) from the still-warm Gulf.

"The implication is that the warmer oceans increased the risk of greater hurricane intensity and duration," Trenberth said. "While we often think of hurricanes as atmospheric phenomena, it's clear that the oceans play a critical role and will shape future storms as the climate changes."

The scientists were able to measure the total loss in ocean heat, mostly due to evaporation, as the storm moved over the Gulf. They also measured the latent heat released over land as the water vapor turned back into liquid water and fell as rain. They then compared those two measurements and found that they corresponded.

The study highlights the increased threat of future supercharged hurricanes due to climate change, Trenberth said.

"We know this threat exists, and yet in many cases, society is not adequately planning for these storms," Trenberth said. "I believe there is a need to increase resilience with better building codes, flood protection, and water management, and we need to prepare for contingencies, including planning evacuation routes and how to deal with power cuts."

Explore further: Studies: Warming made Harvey's deluge 3 times more likely

More information: Kevin E. Trenberth et al. Hurricane Harvey links to Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change Adaptation, Earth's Future (2018). DOI: 10.1029/2018EF000825

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Mark Thomas
4.3 / 5 (7) May 10, 2018
Which means it will probably keep happening and get worse. I wonder how much of a pounding these red states will have to take before they take global warming seriously. Houston suffered a once in 500 year flood with Hurricane Harvey, maybe a once in a 1,000 year flood or a once in 10,000 year flood might help them see things in a new light. When large parts of Florida and Louisiana slip below the waves for good, one would think that would get their attention, but I wouldn't bet on it.
ddaye
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2018
maybe a once in a 1,000 year flood or a once in 10,000 year flood might help them see things in a new light.... but I wouldn't bet on it.
You shouldn't, but not for the reason that everyone thinks, which is the countless personal failings of scores of millions of citizens. Few of us have a clear idea of the information environment of the country, especially the dominantly red regions (80% of all counties is one measure). The educated world seems only to consider what's possible for a citizen to know, whereas the deciding factor is what's statistically likely for the average citizen to know.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) May 13, 2018
Lest we forget the eclipse and X-class solar flare that occurred around the same time. Oh and that 'Oumuamua reached perihelion about the time the flare was released. Obviously there was excess energy boiling on the Sun around this time which seemed to bleed into the Earth global electric circuit.
humy
5 / 5 (3) May 13, 2018
Lest we forget the eclipse and ...

wait a moment; you think an eclipse caused this hurricane?
I don't believe the scientific facts about what fuels hurricanes covers that one.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) May 13, 2018
No, I don't think the eclipse caused the hurricane, but the moon passing between the Sun and Earth would certainly complicate the Sun-Earth electrical connection.
humy
5 / 5 (6) May 13, 2018
No, I don't think the eclipse caused the hurricane, but the moon passing between the Sun and Earth would certainly complicate the Sun-Earth electrical connection.

"electrical connection", whatever exactly you mean by that, has nothing to do with what fuels or causes hurricanes.
Science has already work out basically and broadly what causes hurricanes leaving certainty of only relatively trivial details to be ironed out.
No weird radically new alternative theory is required to explain hurricanes.
And, if you are proposing a new alternative theory (are you?), you need to not only explain what is wrong with the old one but show both evidence and reasoning for the new one and ideally show the alternative equations for the new one.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) May 13, 2018
"electrical connection", whatever exactly you mean by that, has nothing to do with what fuels or causes hurricanes.

Your dismissal indicates to me your lack of scientific acumen. No real scientist declares that which isn't settled as being settled. But alas, we already knew your lack of scientific aptitude.
The electrical connection;
https://science.n...oct_ftes
And;
https://arxiv.org...09.05917
But you can safely ignore these items as you have it all figured out without any "weird radical new alternative theories"
Da Schneib
3.9 / 5 (7) May 13, 2018
Now it's claiming electric woo makes hurricanes. Next it'll be making two-headed sheep and mutilating cattle.
Whydening Gyre
4.5 / 5 (8) May 13, 2018
No, I don't think the eclipse caused the hurricane, but the moon passing between the Sun and Earth would certainly complicate the Sun-Earth electrical connection.

We'd have a lot more hurricanes if that was the cause...
One a month (or so...)
Oh, and... Oumuamua?!? You think a an interstellar comet caused it?
You grab at too many coincidences...
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) May 14, 2018
We'd have a lot more hurricanes if that was the cause...

I didn't say cause it, I said complicate the connection. The Sun was already active, the conjunction only complicated it. Planetary and lunar conjunctions have long been blamed for amplifying activity.
Oh, and... Oumuamua?!? You think a an interstellar comet caused it?

The strongest X-class solar flare of this cycle occured at perihelion of Oumuamua is a coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

https://youtu.be/Bm6nQahrgXU

To say comets can't effect the Sun one would have to ignore observation.
https://www.npr.o...-related
Then there was the wholly unexpected energetic impact of Comet Shoemaker into Jupiter ;
https://www.nytim...ies.html

These aren't just fluffy snowballs.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) May 14, 2018
Now it's claiming electric woo makes hurricanes.

Anti-science da schnied ignores the fact that I didn't propose it, a scientist did.
https://arxiv.org...09.05917
mbee1
2.6 / 5 (5) May 14, 2018
The problem with this study is pretty basic, the Argo floats and the satellite data is not very old, a few years for the floats, less for the satellite so the data base is simply non existent to compare this storm with the past. NOAA does have data on land fall hurricanes back to 1851, that shows no increase in either intensity or frequency since 1851. Basically this study is voodoo dressed up as science since all it measures is a point in time and is not a study of hurricanes of the past and present.
humy
5 / 5 (6) May 14, 2018
"electrical connection", whatever exactly you mean by that, has nothing to do with what fuels or causes hurricanes.

Your dismissal indicates to me your lack of scientific acumen.

No, and in this case it indicates I know that part of science.
You state your extremely vague theory not based on evidence and completely contrary to known scientific facts you haven't even bothered to study before making a theory and then you dismiss anyone's claiming your theory to be wrong because they know those scientific facts. That makes you anti-scientific and yet you accuse us of being anti-scientific? You have got that all back-to-front.
No real scientist declares that which isn't settled as being settled.

What in the main fuels hurricanes has been settled. Study the proven scientific facts before rubishing them.

Da Schneib
4 / 5 (4) May 14, 2018
It's prolly time to start ignoring @cantthink69. It's not even getting downvotes any more.
granville583762
4 / 5 (4) May 14, 2018
For all Solar weather denialists that think the Sun has no part in Earth's weather, just go down to space weather at http://spaceweather.com/
humy
5 / 5 (5) May 14, 2018
For all Solar weather denialists that think the Sun has no part in Earth's weather, ...

...who don't exist. We already all know the sun's rays via absorption and warming fuel the earth's climate.

And your link is completely irrelevant to your current claims because it doesn't even mention Earth's weather, climate, hurricanes etc.
granville583762
2.7 / 5 (7) May 14, 2018
It does not have to; it is the solar electrical activity
For all Solar weather denialists that think the Sun has no part in Earth's weather, ...

humy> ...who don't exist. We already all know the sun's rays via absorption and warming fuel the earth's climate.

And your link is completely irrelevant to your current claims because it doesn't even mention Earth's weather, climate, hurricanes etc.

It does not have to, it is the electrical activity that has by it interaction with the earth's magnetosphere and atmosphere which is largely responsible for earth's weather, for on spaceweather.com the sun at this moment is being observed in its latest outburst of solar activity.
humy
5 / 5 (6) May 14, 2018
it is the electrical activity that has by it interaction with the earth's magnetosphere and atmosphere which is largely responsible for earth's weather,

The magnetosphere isn't the troposphere.
Hurricanes happen in the troposphere, not the magnetosphere.
Hurricanes are neither caused nor fueled by the magnetosphere nor by the "electrical activity" there.
What causes and fuels hurricanes is already pretty much known in science and it has very little if anything to do with 'electrical activity' in the magnetosphere and you have yet to show any evidence or explain any reason for the contrary.
Therefore the electrical activity there must be largely irrelevant to hurricanes.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) May 14, 2018
Humy continues headlong into willful ignorance claiming his false knowledge is relevant.
https://arxiv.org...09.05917

https://www.googl...my92oVM1

It's time for humy to catch-up as it seems science has left him in the past.
humy
5 / 5 (5) May 14, 2018
Humy continues headlong into willful ignorance claiming his false knowledge is relevant.
https://arxiv.org...09.05917

It's time for humy to catch-up as it seems science has left him in the past.


I just read both links. They both point out some recent already known coincidences between solar activity and frequencies of hurricanes that can be better explained by other causes already established by science such as sea surface temperature and global warming etc.
They offer no real evidence for a solar-based causal link; just wild speculation.
They might as well have pointed out some coincidences between the timing of distant supernova and frequencies of hurricanes.
Mean while, real science continues unabated.
Try again.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) May 14, 2018
They might as well have pointed out some coincidences between the timing of distant supernova and frequencies of hurricanes.

You heard it here folks, the eruptive energy we know that is imparted on the Earth's global electric circuit after CME's and flares is purely a coincidence. Apparently this energy just magically appears without causation, according to hummer.
humy
5 / 5 (5) May 14, 2018

You heard it here folks, the eruptive energy we know that is imparted on the Earth's global electric circuit after CME's and flares is purely a coincidence.

No, it isn't and I didn't say that and you know it. Earth's global electric circuit still has very little if anything to do with what fuels hurricanes. CME's and flares have an established measurable effect on Earth's global electric circuit but not on hurricanes.
They might as well have pointed out some coincidences between lottery winning numbers and frequencies of hurricanes.
granville583762
3.4 / 5 (5) May 14, 2018
The Earth is going to be a very cold place!
The solar activity reaching earth is charged ions and electrons, magnetic fields, electromagnetic energy up to gamma-rays, in other words; the only energy that emanates from the Sun to Earth is electromagnet in nature. Humy, if we blindly follow your assertion we will start telling everyone the Sun has no relevance in hurricanes in the weather on Earth. The earth is going to be a very cold place when the Sun has practically no relevance on Earths weather and can be simply dismissed as irrelevant.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) May 14, 2018
Earth's global electric circuit still has very little if anything to do with what fuels hurricanes.

I think you need to update your knowledge and understanding of the actual science. In the following paper speaking on the GEC, they remark;
"Changes in the polar stratospheric vortex have been attributed to forcing by the upward propagation of planetary-scale Rossby waves originating in the troposphere (Andrews et al., 1987). In turn, downward dynamical propagation from the stratosphere on a timescale of months can affect longer term tropospheric dynamics and sea-surface temperature."
https://www.googl...jEluxV9B
Clearly the Sun-Earth electrical connection is of decisive importance.
humy
5 / 5 (4) May 15, 2018
I think you need to update your knowledge and understanding of the actual latest science and not keep coming back to the old long debunked scientific theories but take a peak at the now proven scientific theories.
The Sun-Earth electrical connection isn't of decisive importance to hurricanes. Surface sea temperatures are.
https://www.pbsle...1iiDTU2w
humy
5 / 5 (3) May 15, 2018
better link;

https://oceanexpl...nes.html

Read it and learn something new about real science for once.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (2) May 15, 2018
Fraid not schnookems, you're posting old news. Linked paper from 2016, the newest of the new. You continue using kids materials for your beliefs, I'll rely on the most up-to-date information.
https://youtu.be/msg7XO5YQFI
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (5) May 15, 2018
Hurricanes are driven by heat and humidity and this has been known since at least the 19th century, @cantthink69. They're not driven by the Moon, or by mysterious unidentified electrical currents that don't have any charged particles in them, or by resonance with Jupiter, or by cattle mutilations in Canada.
humy
5 / 5 (3) May 15, 2018
Linked paper from 2016, the newest of the new.

New rep on some old already debunked nonsense; not on real science. Meanwhile, real science continuos unabated.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) May 15, 2018
The "old" minds are stuck in their ways, unable to see the obvious. "Old" minds can be shown facts but their "old" minds can't compute the new info. It's why Planck said science advances one dead guy at a time. The new guys who are not blinded by willful ignorance are to be thanked for moving science into the future.
humy
5 / 5 (3) May 15, 2018

I guess then you must be one of these 'old' farts stuck in your own ways unable to see the obvious and cannot process new information so let go of past the old debunked theories you keep unsuccessfully trying to promote.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (2) May 15, 2018
I can tell by your apish response you're not much of an original type thinker.
leetennant
5 / 5 (2) May 15, 2018
Lest we forget the eclipse and X-class solar flare that occurred around the same time. Oh and that 'Oumuamua reached perihelion about the time the flare was released. Obviously there was excess energy boiling on the Sun around this time which seemed to bleed into the Earth global electric circuit.


Also Venus was in retrograde and the Gods Were Angry about gays marrying.

As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey
In my theory most of heat is produced in soil and marine water due to nuclear reactions catalyzed by dark matter .


Neutrinos have suddenly gained mass and the Earth's core is about to explode.

The stupid is begetting more stupid at this stage.
humy
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2018
In my theory most of heat is produced in soil and marine water due to nuclear reactions catalyzed by dark matter.
mackita

Is that a joke?
I hope so else I fear this is a whole new level of stupid.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (2) May 16, 2018
Also Venus was in retrograde and the Gods Were Angry about gays marrying.

It's easy to ignore that which we choose not to believe, but to what peril shall we ignore observations?
Planetary perihelion seems to have a correlation to natural disasters, why shall we omit comets too?
http://madmantalk...html?m=1

And sungrazers initiating flares;
https://apod.nasa...517.html
http://www.isonca...and-cmes
humy
5 / 5 (1) May 16, 2018
Also Venus was in retrograde and the Gods Were Angry about gays marrying.

It's easy to ignore that which we choose not to believe, but to what peril shall we ignore observations?
Planetary perihelion seems to have a correlation to natural disasters, ...

cantdrive85

Oh, now, unless that is a joke (is it?), you appear to be entering a whole new level of stupid with mackita.

1, nobody has made such "observations" of the "Gods Were Angry" so there is no such "peril" to "ignore" those "observations"

2, any idiot can find coincidence between things, such winning lottery numbers and dates of hurricanes, disasters etc if they look hard enough. But that's all they would be, just coincidences. Thus we should ignore them. What we shouldn't ignore are those observed correlations that have a possible pleasable scientific/rational explanation of how they might be more than mere coincidence.
humy
not rated yet May 16, 2018
my above spelling mistake;

"..possible pleasable scientific/rational..."

should be;

"...possible plausible scientific/rational..."
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) May 16, 2018
1, nobody has made such "observations" of the "Gods Were Angry" so there is no such "peril" to "ignore" those "observations"

It's as if dumy doesn't know anything whatsoever. The "gods" have always been celestial objects, even Christians worship the Sun as their "one true god". Polytheism faded not because of some epiphany, polytheism faded because the gods faded and left behind the only remaining "true" god, the Sun.
What was linked was an blog that noted a list of disasters that correlated with the simultaneous perihelion of the four major outer planets, the "gods"....
It was a rough couple of years which millions of people perished from particularly severe natural disasters. The common thread being that which underlies just about everything in the Universe, the movement of charges.
leetennant
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2018
1, nobody has made such "observations" of the "Gods Were Angry" so there is no such "peril" to "ignore" those "observations"

It's as if dumy doesn't know anything whatsoever. The "gods" have always been celestial objects, even Christians worship the Sun as their "one true god". Polytheism faded not because of some epiphany, polytheism faded because the gods faded and left behind the only remaining "true" god, the Sun.
What was linked was an blog that noted a list of disasters that correlated with the simultaneous perihelion of the four major outer planets, the "gods"....
It was a rough couple of years which millions of people perished from particularly severe natural disasters. The common thread being that which underlies just about everything in the Universe, the movement of charges.


This is a SCIENCE SITE
jonesdave
3 / 5 (2) May 16, 2018
And sungrazers initiating flares;


And links to two articles that do not say comets initiate flares. In fact, one of them says they don't, and calls believers in such things "tinfoil hat wearers"! Not sure why one would link to that as support for such woo.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (1) May 16, 2018
1, nobody has made such "observations" of the "Gods Were Angry" so there is no such "peril" to "ignore" those "observations"

It's as if dumy doesn't know anything whatsoever. The "gods" have always been celestial objects, even Christians worship the Sun as their "one true god". Polytheism faded not because of some epiphany, polytheism faded because the gods faded and left behind the only remaining "true" god, the Sun.
What was linked was an blog that noted a list of disasters that correlated with the simultaneous perihelion of the four major outer planets, the "gods"....
It was a rough couple of years which millions of people perished from particularly severe natural disasters. The common thread being that which underlies just about everything in the Universe, the movement of charges.


This is a SCIENCE SITE

Why are you here then?

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (2) May 16, 2018
And links to two articles that do not say comets initiate flares.

Right, because they must be just a coincidence given their beliefs that such a thing could not happen. Note, all they have to confirm their denial is their beliefs.
The occurrence of sungrazers causing flares is statistically unavoidable.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2018
'INFLUENCE OF SOLAR WIND ON THE GLOBAL ELECTRIC
CIRCUIT, AND INFERRED EFFECTS ON CLOUD MICROPHYSICS,
TEMPERATURE, AND DYNAMICS IN THE TROPOSPHERE'

https://gacc.nifc...sley.pdf
humy
not rated yet May 17, 2018
"INFLUENCE" doesn't mean "cause hurricanes"
TogetherinParis
not rated yet Jun 19, 2018
A few thousand gallons of soybean salad oil cast into the ocean in advance of a hurricane, diminishes said hurricane's intensity by 2 or more categories. Worked on Matthew to save the cape. Worked on Irma to save Key West.

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