GEOS 17
Hurricanes / Typhoons and Global Warming
Last Offered n/a

This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

Since 1990, forty-seven tropical depressions of hurricane intensity have developed on average each year mainly in the northern hemisphere. Among them, a half-dozen become major storms in the North Atlantic Ocean, another 10 are generated in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and as many as 22 take hold over the western Pacific Ocean (where they are called typhoons). Whereas the numbers have remained relatively static, evidence suggests that storm intensity is on the rise. Most such storms dissipate in the open oceans, but elsewhere coastal impact affects the physical geography of rocky shores, beaches, and river deltas, as well as the infrastructure associated with human habitation and commerce. During the Pliocene warm period between 4.5 to 3.0 million years ago, the average global temperature was both higher than today and global sea level stood above today’s datum. These conditions may have contributed to permanent El NiƱo conditions across the Pacific Ocean having a spill-over effect on the Atlantic Ocean. With few exceptions since 2015, each succeeding year through 2023 has recorded an increase in the average global temperature. Air temperature affects sea-surface temperature, which is the key factor triggering hurricanes / typhoons on a seasonal basis today. This course looks at the physical evidence for storm deposits of exceptional size from the Pliocene warm period and the last inter-glacial epoch roughly 125,000 years ago. In the northern hemisphere, such deposits are well studied along the shores of Mexico’s Gulf of California as well as islands such as the Azores in the North Atlantic. The physical dynamics of recent hurricanes are reviewed for further insight on where and how coastal impact is most expected.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 10
Expected: NA
Class#: 0
Grading:
Requirements/Evaluation: Presentation(s); Other: participation in discussion of assigned readings
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Evidence of prior course work in the Geosciences and/or Environmental Studies departments will be used.
Unit Notes: Markes Johnson is Professor Emeritus in the Geosciences Department at Williams College and the author of several books on the geology and ecology of Mexico's Baja California, including Baja California's Coastal Landscapes Revealed (2021). His latest
Materials/Lab Fee: $24
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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