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African Easterly Jet

Where Hurricanes Are Born

Most Atlantic hurricanes begin to form over Africa, where hot, dry desert air meets cool, wet air over jungle regions farther south. In the seam between these high- and low-pressure air systems, a powerful westward air stream known as the African Easterly Jet forms. Atmospheric disturbances that break off from the swerving jet can trigger hurricanes that cross the Atlantic. Working in the WHOI Coastal Systems Group, Lizzie Wallace, a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program, is using seafloor sediments to reveal past patterns of hurricane and ocean temperatures. The research can help us predict and prepare for future hurricane activity. (Illustration by Natalie Renier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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