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June 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the June, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Can Big Fish Predict Hurricanes? More than 750 sharks, tarpon, tuna and billfish, fitted with satellitelinked tags, are providing scientists at the University of Miami with data on temperature and salinity in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, because they think that info could be used to improve hurricane forecasts. Three years ago, the scientists discovered a remarkable pattern: The fish remained in waters with temperatures around 79 degrees, the minimum required for tropical systems to develop, and many swam into waters around tropical systems, which churned up nutrients and made hunting easier. That's when scientists realized fish could provide accurate ocean temperatures, which could be fed into computer models forecasters use to develop tropical predictions. The National Hurricane Center is noncommittal, saying it does not expect the fish to have "a significant influence on hurricane forecasting."But the Miami scientists say tag data shows many fish swam directly into the paths of storms, including Hurricane Katrina. We'll see how active the fish are this year: Federal forecasters expect a slower-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season....

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