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UGA Reseachers Receive Grant to Study "Brown Ocean" Effect

Photo courtesy Nancy Evelyn

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is approaching and researchers at the University of Georgia in partnership with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have been awarded a grant to study how wet soils may strengthen tropical storms over land.

The research funding totaling nearly $1 million will allow the scientists to build on an idea first advanced in two UGA-based studies suggesting that wet soils could sustain or intensify hurricanes, typhoons and other tropical cyclones as they move over land. The UGA researchers called this the "brown ocean" effect.

Marshall Shepherd, Distinguished professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences is the principal investigator. Shepherd says the team will explore how wet soil, swampy regions like the Everglades and even irrigated areas affect storms as they move inland. Recent research from one of Shepherd's former doctoral students now working at the U.S. Forest Service suggests that irrigated landscapes in southwest Georgia may provide a moisture source for storms in that region.


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