Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Benefit of Hurricanes

PostedSeptember 4, 2019

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Lead: Hurricanes like Dorian are locally devastating and likely more will come this season. But researchers say there is a silver lining to the storms.

Randy Atkins: Hurricanes could help slow global warming, says Ana Barros, an environmental engineer at Duke University. She looked at how massive amounts of extra water from the storms affect plant and tree growth, especially in shallow soils.

Ana Barros: We found that it was very, very important and had a dramatic impact.

Randy Atkins: During a typical southeast coast hurricane season, Barros says her computer models show photosynthesis ramps up so much that the amount of carbon dioxide taken from the air is…

Ana Barros: …one order of magnitude larger than what is emitted by trucks and cars in the US…

Randy Atkins: …in an entire year! Since carbon dioxide is a major contributor to greenhouse effect atmospheric warming, despite their often devastating local damage, hurricanes might be helping the planet. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.