Apr 3, 2019
TIL about hurricanes
Play • 12 min

Scientists predict that hurricanes will hit us harder in the future — but why? And what can we expect to see? In this episode of #TILclimate (Today I Learned: Climate), MIT professor Kerry Emanuel joins host Laur Hesse Fisher to break down how these “heat engines” work and how a changing climate will increase hurricane intensity, storm surges, and flooding. They also explore how people around the world are adapting to growing hurricane risks.
Prof. Emanuel is the Cecil & Ida Green Professor of Atmospheric Science at the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and co-director of the MIT Lorenz Center. He is a prominent meteorologist and climate scientist who studies tropical cyclones. In 2006, he was named by Time Magazine as one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World”.

An educator guide for this episode can be found here: https://climate.mit.edu/educator-guide-til-about-hurricanes

For other climate explanations, check out: www.tilclimate.mit.edu.

Learn more about:

The work of Prof. Emanuel and other hurricane researchers:

Video footage of storm surges (as mentioned by Prof. Emanuel 5:59)

Kerry Emanuel’s explanation for natural sea level rise in New York (As mentioned by Prof. Emanuel 6:30):

  • “During the peak of the glaciation, the weight of the ice deformed the earth's crust much as a rock deforms a pillow it is placed on. The pillow sinks under the weight of the rock but bulges upward just outside the perimeter of the rock. When the rock is lifted, the depression in the pillow rebounds upward while the bulge around it collapses. New York was near the center of the bulge caused by the ice sheet, and when it melted, the bulge relaxed downward...equivalent to a rise in sea level. That is still happening.”

Examples of how communities are adapting to hurricanes:

An overview of climate change:


Special thanks to Tom Kiley and Laura Howells.

Produced by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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