In the News: John Abraham on Unprecedented Ocean Warming and Its Impact on Hurricane Season

John Abraham, mechanical engineering professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering, spoke with MPR News about the recent unprecedented temperature spike in Earth’s oceans, its connection to climate change and serious weather events, including hurricanes.

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From the interview:

Host: We know, through your research and others, that about 90% of global warming has been absorbed by our oceans. But I’m curious, at what point do oceans lose the ability to absorb this extra heat, and maybe the atmosphere starts warming faster?

Abraham: So, we are concerned that the ability of the oceans to absorb heat will gradually decrease. And if it gradually decreases, then that extra heat has to end up somewhere else, and it is going to end up in the atmosphere. And that would be really bad news for us.

Host: We know this super El Niño is fading, forecast to go to La Niña for ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific next winter. But La Niñas can produce active hurricane seasons. What are you thinking for this fall?

Abraham: Worried. We are really anxious about this year’s hurricane season because hurricanes that form have the potential to become much more powerful hurricanes. And what we really don’t want to see is those big hurricanes hitting the East Coast of the U.S. And the ingredients, at least the ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, are set to provide energy for big storms. So, we’re gonna watch that very closely this year.