Climate Science

The First of Many?

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Science  26 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5739, pp. 1302
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5739.1302c

The first hurricane ever documented in the South Atlantic, Catarina, struck the southern coast of Brazil on 28 March 2004. This unprecedented event led some Brazilian meteorologists to deny that it was a hurricane at all; further analysis, however, has shown that it was.

In a detailed study of the storm, Pezza and Simmonds describe its evolution from genesis on 20 March 2004 as an extra-tropical cyclone, through its strengthening to a category I hurricane before it drifted over land. This hurricane developed because of an unusual combination of high sea surface temperatures, low vertical wind shear, and strong mid-to-high latitude blocking (which interferes with normal east-west atmospheric flow). These conditions are functions of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns in the region and could be related to climate change. If so, more hurricanes may occur in the South Atlantic in the future. — HJS

Geophys. Res. Lett.10.1029/2005GL023390 (2005).

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