The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron
Bleached coral in American Samoa earlier this year. Credit XL Catlin Seaview SurveyBy JOHN SCHWARTZ, NYT
NOV. 2, 2015
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Hurricane Patricia was a surprise. The eastern Pacific hurricane strengthened explosively before hitting the coast of Mexico, far exceeding projections of scientists who study such storms.
And while the storm’s strength dissipated quickly when it struck land, a question remained. What made it such a monster?
Explanations were all over the map, with theories that included climate change (or not), and El Niño.
But the answer is more complicated. The interplay of all the different kinds of warming going on in the Pacific at the moment can be difficult to sort out and, as with the recent hurricane, attributing a weather event to a single cause is unrealistic.
Gabriel Vecchi, head of the climate variations and predictability group at the geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, N.J., likened the challenge to the board game Clue.