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Hurricane’s tiny earthquakes could help forecasters

Data on Sandy show temblors emanate from eye of storm

8:00am, August 25, 2015
hurricane map

SEISMIC STORM  Hurricane Sandy (visualized above) triggered tiny tremors under its eye as it stormed up the U.S. East Coast in 2012. These tiny quakes could help meteorologists closely monitor the behavior of raging hurricanes, researchers propose.

As Sandy raged, the ground trembled.

Rumbles picked up by seismometers during Hurricane Sandy’s trip up the U.S. East Coast in 2012 originated from the storm’s eye, seismologists report in a paper to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. Listening for these rumbles could help meteorologists remotely monitor air pressure changes inside hurricanes and better predict sudden increases in storm intensity, the researchers propose.

“Seismology is opening up a new opportunity to look at things we’ve never seen before,” says Lianxing Wen, a seismologist at Stony Brook University in New York. “This seismicity could provide a supplementary way to look directly at the center of a hurricane system in real time.”

For decades, seismologists have heard the planet’s seismic soundscape get noisier when hurricanes roam.

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