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How do tropical storms form and intensify into hurricanes, such as last year’s devastating Katrina?

One of the key elements powering a hurricane is the transfer of heat from the ocean’s surface into the air.

“The rate of heat transfer increases exponentially as winds increase the amount  of sea spray in a manner similar to turning on the shower in your bathroom,” explains James Lawrence, UH associate professor of geosciences.

Lawrence and Chemistry Department Director of instrumentation Hans Hofmeister have developed an innovative salt-detection device to measure the salt content of rain in tropical cyclones, while driving through tropical storms and minimal hurricanes. The device can also be used in a fixed position.

This novel research tool is ultimately intended to fly through storms aboard research planes and may one day help forecasters better predict changes in the intensity of storms.

For more information, please visit http://www.geosc.uh.edu/faculty/faculty.php?155622-961-5=geos51

© University of Houston 2006