Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling
29 June 2020

Does Aerosol Fuel or Extinguish a Super Cyclone?

Images of Cyclone Fani and associated aerosol pattern
Science

Cyclone Fani was an intense storm and it caused a high casualty. Analyzing the opposite effects of heat and aerosol on Fani shows that climate warming has overcome the negative effect of aerosol on intensifying tropical cyclones.

Impact

Fani developed within a high concentration of aerosols over the abnormally warm ocean, thereby presenting an opportunity to understand the compound effects of aerosols and regional warming on a tropical cyclone. The result lends support to the 2020 Super Cyclone Amphan, the strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal.

Summary
  • A quantitative attribution analysis was conducted using the WRF-Chem at the convection-permitting grid spacing;
  • Removal of tropospheric warming shows approximately twice as strong an effect on Fani as that of SST warming;
  • Aerosol and its interaction with the atmosphere acted to mitigate the strengthening effect of anthropogenic warming on Fani, but was not strong enough to entirely counteract it;
  • Reported in the news (WSJ, CBS, The Tribune, The Independent)
Contact
Simon Wang
Utah State University
Publications
Zhao, L, S Wang, E Becker, J Yoon, and A Mukherjee.  2020.  "Cyclone Fani: The tug-of-war between regional warming and anthropogenic aerosol effects."  Environmental Research Letters.  https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab91e7.