Greenhouse Effect of Clouds Instrumental in Origin of Tropical Storms


The researchers found that infrared radiative feedback from clouds creates a localized greenhouse effect that traps heat in the area of the tropical depression.

With the tropical storm season in the Atlantic Ocean underway and already well into the Greek alphabet for naming, better storm track prediction has allowed timely evacuations and preparations. However, the formation and intensification of these storms remains challenging to predict, according to an international team of researchers who are studying the origin of tropical cyclones.

"There are critical questions around the formation and intensification of hurricanes that makes forecasting them extremely difficult," said James H. Ruppert Jr., assistant research professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, Penn State. "We don't yet have sufficient understanding of the processes that drive storm formation."

Tropical depressions are the weak precursors to intense hurricanes, usually identifiable as a disorganized cluster of clouds in a weak low-pressure area, according to Rupert.

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