Climate and oceanography

hurricane-francesThe track of Hurricane Frances (2004)

Not only is Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida the eastern-most spot in Florida, but it’s also the point where the Gulf Stream comes closest to the eastern seaboard of the United States. Yet, with a trajectory aimed at the lighthouse in 2004, Hurricane Frances came to an unprecedented halt, as the eyewall continued to rotate freely just 30-miles offshore. This unusual occurrence in the hurricane’s path was due to a weather system over Florida that blocked the hurricane’s course — a forecast that was historically unparalleled. However, as rare as this event was, Hurricane Frances eventually wobbled and came onshore making landfall on Hutchinson Island, Florida, just 30-miles north of the lighthouse.

Nicolas Carnot was a French physicist regarded as the Father of Thermodynamics.

Hurricanes are also known as Carnot heat engines (named after Nicolas Carnot). A hurricane is a conduit that moves heat energy from a warm reservoir to a cool reservoir (i.e., from the warm surface temperatures of the ocean to the cooler temperatures of the upper level atmosphere). And as the case is with any hurricane — such as Frances — when hurricanes perform this work, they move across the warm, tropical waters, creating upswells that leave much cooler oceanic surface temperatures in their wakes. A short article in the journal Nature named “Hurricane Heat Engines” renders a clear, concise description of this kind of thermodynamic mechanics.

One of the questions selected for our creation science writing contest focuses on hurricanes as heat engines and the equilibrium temperature of the earth. This question serves to prepare students for more complex concepts relative to the study of climate and oceanography. As case in point, built within the context of this question’s writing-prompt, we present the mathematical formula that renders a planet’s surface temperature.

Could you consider yourself in a role that helps us understand the relational balance between the heating (i.e., greenhouse heating) and cooling (i.e., hurricanes as heat engines) of the planet?

Starting out now on your very own discovery of the intricacies of God’s creation today through scientific study might very well help in discerning what path you should take in the future. For example, for a possible career path, such study could help you better understand the responsibilities of meteorologists.

Just maybe the writing prompt on the study of climate and oceanography was developed specifically for you!

We invite you to browse the aforementioned question here, as follows: “On the Study of Climate and Oceanography.”