Hurricanes are a lot less understood then you might think. While they occur everywhere around the globe, and though they happen with some regularity every year, scientists still aren’t totally sure what drives them—our observational satellite records of these storms only go back to around the 1970s.
Understanding hurricanes, how they work, and what makes them go is still a very active area of research. They seem to be caused by a complex interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. In order to form, they require a delicate balance of moisture, temperature, pressure and weather systems across almost an entire ocean. “They really are one of the more complicated phenomena because they bring together a lot of different process at once and they’re all important,” says Allison Wing, a professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at the University of Florida.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at how these massive systems impact our planet and our lives: we’ll look at why they are so difficult to predict; we’ll tackle how cities could become less vulnerable to the flooding that these storms bring as they carry water from the ocean onto land; and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of why scientists are having such a hard time pinpointing the impact that climate change is having on hurricanes around the world.