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Hurricanes and the Coastal Zone


June 1, 2005

With hurricane season arriving June 1, along with predictions of an above normal number of major storms in the Atlantic and Gulf States, understanding how the ocean and atmospheric interact and what role changing climate has on the formation of hurricanes is critical. The 2004 hurricane season resulted in many deaths and tremendous destruction in Florida and other coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast but also to many states inland. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists conduct research on a variety of topics related to hurricanes, from ocean circulation patterns and changing climate, the effects of hurricanes on coral reefs and environmental impacts in the coastal zone, to coastal erosion and storm surges. Historical records from hurricanes decades and centuries ago hidden deep below the surface in coastal areas are providing insight into what we might expect in the future. Further information about some of these projects is available from the Institution’s Coastal Ocean Institute and Ocean and Climate Change Institute.