Are empty oceans the answer to less hurricanes and cyclones? That seems to be the findings in a new study released by Princeton’s Dr. Anand Gnanadesikan. Ocean waters that have limited or no phytoplankton are a very clear blue. While waters containing phytoplankton become murkier and darker blue/green the greater the volume of tiny plant life that feeds and powers the oceans food chain.
Essentially the clearer the water the deeper the sun warms the water. In clear centers of tidal activity the water can warm up to a 100 meters deep while dark or murky phytoplankton filled ocean waters only warms up in the top 5 to 10 meters. The deeper the warm water penetrates in the tropical oceans the further the “warm” water heat can be dissipated by the continental currents. It’s this regional dissipation of heat that reduces the creation of hurricanes and cyclones.
Potentially this new study can track the early development of hurricanes by the color of the water. “We think of the oceans as blue, but the oceans aren’t really blue, they’re actually a sort of greenish color,” said lead researcher Anand Gnanadesikan in a statement released Friday. “The fact that the oceans are not blue has a direct impact on the distribution of tropical cyclones,” Gnanadesikan said.
Without chlorophyll, sunlight penetrates deeper into the ocean, leaving the surface water cooler. Cold water in turn causes changes in air circulation patterns, forcing strong winds aloft, “which tend to prevent thunderstorms from developing the necessary superstructure that allows them to grow into hurricanes,” the researchers said.