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Why are Hurricanes So Sharp?


Annual hurricane cycles in the Atlantic are considered sharp because more than half of the hurricanes occur within the 3-month span from August to October. Traditional theories explaining how hurricanes (tropical cyclones) are generated do not include explanatory mechanisms for why Atlantic hurricanes tend to appear in such a concentrated period of time. Princeton University researchers Wenchang Yang, Tsung-Lin Hsieh, and Gabriel Vecchi, supported by CPO’s Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) and Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) programs, developed and demonstrated a new tropical cyclone genesis framework which reproduces the compact season of Atlantic hurricanes. Their framework, published in PNAS, provides a unified way to investigate tropical cyclone annual cycles from various ocean basins, sources (both observations and climate models), and numerical experiments.

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