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Name: Candie
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: NC
Country: N/A
Date: 3/24/2005


Question:
Can hurricanes form on frozen water and if so, I heard they found water on mars so does mars have hurricanes too?


Replies:
Candie,

Hurricanes depend on the evaporation of water from a warm ocean surface, so a hurricane could not form over frozen water.

Mars may have water on (or in) it. However, the surface is basically dry with very little (if any) water available. You need a very large, warm, open ocean and the right dynamic conditions to produce a hurricane, so hurricanes as we know them are not possible on Mars. However, there clearly are storms (dry, dusty ones) on Mars, which are apparently produced by strong horizontal gradients of temperature, just as on Earth.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


Hurricanes are large storms that form and are "fed" by the convection of warm wet air into cooler air at higher altitudes. This colder air then sinks to ocean level warms up, picks up moisture and starts the cycle over again. So "hurricanes" require water and a thermal gradient to form. This will not happen over frozen water or if the temperature gradients are not large enough. This does not preclude storms of other origins from forming over polar cold regions or on Mars, but I do not think these would be classified as "hurricanes".

Vince Calder


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