This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Anatomy of a hurricane

Added October 6: Here's a nice site to track the projected path of the hurricane.

Here's a nice graphic from AccuWeather on the anatomy of a hurricane showing conditions likely to occur in the four quadrants. There is speculation that this may be one of the rare hurricanes that loops around back on its earlier track, but the models are changing very rapidly.
     As Hurricane Matthew bears down on Haiti, it is worth reflecting on why Haiti seems to suffer so badly from hurricanes and floods. It may or may not see a disproportionately large number of hurricanes. Prior to 2008, only six major Category 3 or stronger hurricanes had struck Haiti since 1851. Cleo in 1964 killed 192 people; Flora in 1963 killed 8000. But in 2008, four storms (Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike) struck.
     However, given these storms, Haiti suffers a disproportionate amount of flooding (see Jeff Masters article here).  Charcoal from burnt trees had provided more than 85% of the energy in Haiti for decades and at present it's something like 60%.  This has resulted in denuded mountain slopes that cannot absorb and hold back the deluges of rainwater. For an interesting take (and references) on whether or not Haiti is as heavily deforested as popularly believed, or less so, see the interesting post in Envirosociety.org here.

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