Seismological identification and characterization of a large hurricane

Carl W. Ebeling, Seth Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Much debate within the weather, climate, disaster mitigation, and insurance communities centers on whether rising sea-surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean due to anthropogenic global warming are resulting in discernible trends in hurricane frequency or energy. However, some of the apparent increase in hurricane frequency may be due to the recent availability of aircraft- and satellitebased observations. A possible approach to this issue is via microseisms, seismic signals traditionally thought of as noise because they are not generated by earthquakes. These surface waves generated by ocean storms are detected even in continental interiors far from source regions. Here we show that the August 1992 Saffir/Simpson category 5 Hurricane Andrew can be detected using microseisms recorded at the Harvard, Massachusetts, seismic station even while the storm is as far as ~2000 km away and still at sea. When applied to decades of existing analog seismograms, this methodology could yield a seismically identified hurricane record for comparison to the pre-aircraft and pre-satellite observational record.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-403
Number of pages5
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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