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Record-breaking ocean heat fuelled Hurricane Harvey

10 May 2018

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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.

These hotter-than-normal conditions supercharged the storm, fuelling 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 water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean," said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of the new study in Earth's Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey."

Source: American Geophysical Union

Image credit: NOAA/NASA - Hurricane Harvey on 24 August, 2017 as captured by the GOES-16 satellite.

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