Hurricanes as Heat Engines

  • Released Wednesday, May 3, 2000

See Conceptual Image Lab animation #10049 for additional Hurricane Heat Engines material.

As water vapor evaporates from the warm ocean surface, it is forced upward in the convective clouds that surround the eyewall and rainband regions of a storm. As the water vapor cools and condenses from a gas back to a liquid state, it releases latent heat. The release of latent heat warms the surrounding air, making it lighter and thus promoting more vigorous cloud development.

The release of latent heat warms the surrounding air,
making it lighter and thus promoting more vigorous cloud development.

The release of latent heat warms the surrounding air,
making it lighter and thus promoting more vigorous cloud development.

Two hurricances approaching the coast of the United States, with the second hurricance slowed due to cooler waters caused by the track of the first.

Two hurricances approaching the coast of the United States, with the second hurricance slowed due to cooler waters caused by the track of the first.

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Studio 13

Release date

This page was originally published on Wednesday, May 3, 2000.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:58 PM EDT.


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