. Earth Science News .

Clustered hurricanes reduce impact on ecosystems
by Staff Writers
Brisbane, Australia (SPX) Oct 20, 2011

It is important to consider the clustered nature of hurricane events when predicting the impacts of storms and climate change on ecosystems. File image courtesy AFP.

New research has found that hurricane activity is 'clustered' rather than random, which has important long-term implications for coastal ecosystems and human population.

The research was carried out by Professor Peter Mumby from The University of Queensland Global Change Institute and School of Biological Sciences, Professor David Stephenson and Dr Renato Vitolo (Willis Research Fellow) at the University of Exeter's Exeter Climate Systems research centre.

Tropical cyclones and hurricanes have a massive economic, social and ecological impact, and models of their occurrence influence many planning activities from setting insurance premiums to conservation planning.

Understanding how the frequency of hurricanes varies is important for the people that experience them and the ecosystems that are impacted by hurricanes.

The findings published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA map the variability in hurricanes throughout the Americas using a 100-year historical record of hurricane tracks.

Short intense periods of hurricanes followed by relatively long quiet periods, were found around the Caribbean Sea and the clustering was particularly strong in Florida, the Bahamas, Belize, Honduras, Haiti and Jamaica.

Modelling of corals reefs of the Caribbean found that clustered hurricanes are 'better' for coral reef health than random hurricane events as the first hurricane always causes a lot of damage but then those storms that follow in quick succession don't add much additional damage as most of the fragile corals were removed by the first storm.

The following prolonged period without hurricanes allows the corals to recover and then remain in a reasonable state prior to being hit by the next series of storms.

It is important to consider the clustered nature of hurricane events when predicting the impacts of storms and climate change on ecosystems. For coral reefs, forecasts of habitat collapse were overly pessimistic and have been predicted at least 10 years too early as hurricanes were assumed to occur randomly over time, which is how most research projects model the incidence of future hurricanes.

"Cyclones have always been a natural part of coral reef lifecycles", says study author Professor Peter Mumby. "However, with the additional stresses people have placed upon ecosystems like fishing, pollution and climate change, the impacts of cyclones linger a lot longer than they did in the past."

Mumby adds, "If we are to predict the future of coral reefs it's really important to consider the clustering of cyclone events. For a given long term rate of hurricanes (e.g., once per decade), clustered events are less damaging.

"Clustering of storms and other weather events is a global phenomenon that needs to be better quantified statistically in risk assessments" says study author Professor David Stephenson.

"We didn't at first expect clustering to have advantages but this study has clearly shown that clustering can help by giving ecosystems more time to recover from natural catastrophes"

Professor Stephenson adds, "This research also has wider implications for other systems such as the dynamics and viability of insurance companies and the provision of reinsurance protection."

"Reinsurance companies are a bit like ecosystems and so need time to recover after major losses - so clustering of hurricanes allows the industry to build profits before the next cluster of storm losses. They are different from corals in that they actually need a few hurricanes for them to be able to grow." Said Professor Stephenson.

Related Links
Global Change Institute
Willis Research Network
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Storm Jova drenches western Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (AFP) Oct 12, 2011
Jova lost its hurricane status Wednesday but remained a deadly threat as a huge storm system, dumping torrential rain across much of Mexico's Pacific coast and triggering flooding and power cuts. The system had roared ashore in Jalisco state Tuesday as a category two hurricane, but late Wednesday had weakened to a remnant of the powerful system it once was. At least four people were conf ... read more

Japan cabinet approves $156 bn recovery budget

El Salvador begins post-storm clean-up

Boeing Delivers 50,000th CSEL Search and Rescue Communications System

A team for an emergency

Study: No negative impact from e-readers

Greenpeace criticises Japan radiation screening

Apple profit soars but misses high expectations

China rare earths giant halts output as prices fall

Deep-reef coral hates the light, prefers the shade

Study identifies molecules used by certain species of seaweed to harm corals

New photos reveal Taiwan shark fishing: report

Massive S.Korea river project still making waves

Polar bear habitats expected to shrink dramatically:

CryoSat rocking and rolling

US probes mystery disease killing Arctic seals

NASA Continues Critical Survey of Antarctica's Changing Ice

Farmland floods do not raise levels of potentially harmful flame retardants in milk

Canadian scientists map the cannabis genome

Outside View: Japan woos U.S. biotech

Food without preservatives - thanks to self-cleaning equipment

Thai floodwaters spill into northern Bangkok

Thai PM tells Bangkok to move belongings to safety

Thai flooding crisis scares off tourists

New models to aid hurricane-evacuation planning

Kenya, Uganda snared in Battle for Africa

Sudden drop in Somali arrivals in Kenya: UNHCR

Kenyan forces advance on strategic Somali rebel bases

Car bomb rocks Mogadishu during Kenyan ministers visit

'Generation Squeezed': today's family staggering under the pressure

Blame backbone fractures on evolution, not osteoporosis

Protecting the brain when energy runs low

Cells are crawling all over our bodies, but how?


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement