The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron

The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron

By JOHN SCHWARTZNOV. 2, 2015

 

Bleached coral in American Samoa earlier this year. Credit XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Hurricane Patricia was a surprise. The eastern Pacific hurricane strengthened explosively before hitting the coast of Mexico, far exceeding projections of scientists who study such storms.

And while the storm’s strength dissipated quickly when it struck land, a question remained. What made it such a monster?

Explanations were all over the map, with theories that included climate change (or not), and El Niño.

But the answer is more complicated. The interplay of all the different kinds of warming going on in the Pacific at the moment can be difficult to sort out and, as with the recent hurricane, attributing a weather event to a single cause is unrealistic. Read more.