A recent study has found a link between hurricane activity and the Spanish shipwrecks from the Caribbean, which might lead to predicting the patterns of the phenomenon. Furthermore, scientists hope to shed new light on the effects of global warming by understanding those correlations.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last Monday. After analyzing the Spanish shipwreck records in the Caribbean, the researchers arrived at the conclusion that the hurricanes’ frequency dropped with 75 percent from 1645 to 1715, during a period that registered cooler temperatures and lower sunspot activity.
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research associate professor Valerie Trouet from the University of Arizona has stated that during the times when numerous ships were wrecked in the Caribbean region, trees from the Florida Keys showed the same signs as trees do during hurricanes. This piece of information has determined researchers to continue in this endeavor.
It all started from the rings of trees located on the coast of Florida. Hurricanes cause trees to lose branches, needles, and branches. As a result, the tree rings that appear during the year after the hurricane are narrower because the trees are restricted from photosynthesis and growth without their branches.
Next, the Spanish shipwreck records were chosen because the Spanish were the first colonizing nation to visit the Caribbean, and their records are extremely well preserved. Therefore, the researchers were able to discover that the period between 1645 and 1715 recorded two events: a drop in the hurricane rates with 75 percent, and the Maunder Minimum, a climate change aspect that determined temperatures to drop both on land and in water.
Dr. Trouet has explained that hurricanes need temperatures higher than 26.8 degrees Celsius in order to manifest. This can prove worrying in the current context of global warming. Scientists cannot predict how hurricanes will be influenced by greenhouse emissions.
However, Trouet has expressed her opinion that other factors can be at work and should not be excluded:
“You can never fully exclude the possibility that it is a coincidence or that other factors came into play. That being said, we have done all possible sensitivity tests that we could think of to verify our results.”
Further studies are expected to be conducted in other parts of the world, such as the coast of England or the Gulf of Mexico. Historians are also debating whether historical trends or events did influence the activity of hurricanes.
Image Source: WNCT
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