As Hurricanes are a devastating force that can wipe out entire sectors, their anticipated forecast it’s a must. Now, researchers from the University of Arizona have developed a new method to forecast hurricanes using records of shipwrecks in the Caribbean.

Researchers looked at records from Spanish shipwrecks as well as tree-ring records and concluded that the period 1645 to 1715 had the fewest Caribbean hurricanes. Studying tree-ring records proves useful when correlated with hurricane seasons since tree growth slows down during years of hurricanes.

Hurricane Isabel churns below the International Space Station in 2003. Credit: NASA
Hurricane Isabel churns below the International Space Station in 2003. Credit: NASA

The new research led by Valerie Trouet provides an annual record of Caribbean hurricanes dating back as far as 1500, in comparison with previous studies. Researchers previously used sediments to develop a record of hurricanes over the past centuries; however, the data only accounted the records of a century.

And the data resulted from the University of Arizona’s research showed a staggering decline in hurricanes during that period. The hurricane-free period, also known as Maunder Minimum showed an incredible 75 percent reduction in hurricanes. Now, the information gathered in the study could lead researchers to expand their knowledge on hurricane variability making it easier to forecast the natural disaster, said the lead author of the study Valerie Trouet.

Potential Hurricane Forecast

The research has also proven useful to determine if hurricanes are now increasing in occurrences per year due to global warming or a man-made climate change. Trouet also said that there’s an indication showing shipwrecks record to be useful as a proxy for hurricane activity, so people can expect a more alert hurricane forecasting transmission from now on.

“The number of hurricanes is to a large extent dependent on the temperature of the oceans,” said the lead author of the study Professor Valerie Trouet. “So, with cooler oceans, you get fewer hurricanes.”

Although there has not been any confirmation on whether global warming is responsible for stronger and more frequent hurricanes, they will become more intense with climate change according to current global climate models. However, the results from the current climate models don’t serve as well at making regional predictions.

The study focused on hurricane activity and its record data should be stretched throughout the Atlantic coast, into the Gulf of Mexico and even in Asia, according to Valerie Trouet, an associate professor in the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

Source: The Washington Post