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Study suggests heavy rains from tropical cyclones distort the ground below

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Torrential rainfall during a tropical cyclone could be responsible for reshaping the shallow layer of Earth’s crust in the days following the storm, according to new research.

Earth’s surface is constantly shifting, expanding and compressing in response to atmospheric and hydrologic forces from aboveground.

Scientists have previously suggested that tropical cyclones could cause contortion below Earth’s surface, called ground deformation, because researchers have documented both dilatation, or expansion, and compression of Earth’s crust after severe storms. Previous studies have suggested that dilatation from cyclones could trigger slow earthquakes that could cause compression.

The new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds that compression of Earth’s crust is correlated with heavy rainfall from hurricanes and typhoons, known collectively as tropical cyclones. The added weight of all that water likely causes the ground underneath the storm to deform, according to the study’s authors.

Continue reading at American Geophysical Union

Image via Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center