The Science Behind Super Typhoon Haiyan Explained ~ Kwentology


Typhoon Haiyan which devastated Philippines this November with the highest wind speed reaches about 310 Km/h is the strongest tropical cyclone ever measured. And it is the third typhoon that directly hit the Philippines in just the last 12 months. The speculation that our world's climate change plays the major role about the formation of this storm. Well, your avid Kwentologist and few bits of science is here to help. Like most interesting things, science about the supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is somehow complicated.

Image of Devastation of Haiyan in Philippines


Different Words But Describes Just a Single Thing


First, let me tell you about some important glossary for this kwento. Typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes are different names but all are the same thing. It's the location that determines for what they call. Atlantic they called it hurricanes, South Pacific they called it cyclones and at the North Pacific they called it typhoons.

Tropical cyclones, a powerful rotating storms that form over tropical waters. They form in some special set of condition and the most important of which is warm ocean water. Now, many meteorological data shows that Haiyan traveled along Pacific waters at higher-than-average temperatures at the surface. But maybe more importantly according to a global temperature monitoring project called ARGO. Waters of the Philippines a hundred of meters below the surface were unusually warmth—3° celsius above average.

Too Hot H20 and Climate Change


This is the important clue because tropical cyclones get its energy from the evaporation of water from the ocean surface. That's why low pressures are form from the warm water in the first place. But as the cyclone stirs the cooler-deeper water up to the surface. That evaporation slows and help the storm to cut off. Knowing that water is unusually warmed. The storm losses that off switch and it's just get stronger. So warmer water do enables stronger cyclones. But climate change expected to amplify another force of nature.

The Purpose of Wind Shear


Wind shear, that is when wind blows in different angles and at different altitude. This help the storm to break up before it becomes too large. In addition to being warm, this year we often seen more wind shear. Which actually served to delay the hurricane and typhoon season by about a month. In the case of Haiyan, the wind shear happened to taper off at a time when a storm system was sweeping over those warm deep waters this is one of those things they called the "Perfect Storms".
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