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Research finds evidence tropical cyclones have climate-control role

hangs out at bottom unless something stirs it up. Cyclones stir it up in addition to other processes."

Tropical cyclones cause waves below the surface of the ocean that break, just like what can be seen on the beach shore. When the waves break, the top layer of water curls into the bottom layer and water of different densities and temperatures mix, Huber said.

"Warm, fresh water is less dense than cold, salty water, so the cold water sinks, and this drives the conveyer belt," Huber said. "However, cold, salty water rises in the Pacific, and there has been no complete explanation for this. Cyclones and hurricanes appear to pump warm water down and bring cold water to the surface. Mixing down buoyant, warm water lessens the density of the cold water and allows it to rise "

The study did not examine deep ocean mixing, but it is reasonable to speculate that warm water pumped down joins the ocean circulation and becomes a part of the upper limb of the conveyer belt where dense water makes it up to the surface, Huber said.

Huber and Sriver plan to incorporate their findings into a climate model for further testing.

"Current predictions are based on tropical ocean mixing remaining constant or decreasing with warmer temps," Huber said. "This evidence suggests the opposite is true, and upper ocean tropical mixing increases with warmer temperatures. This has major implications for oceanography and climate as a new factor that had not been included in previous predictions."


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Contact: Elizabeth K. Gardner
ekgardner@purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
31-May-2007


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