“The Southeast, particularly Georgia, experiences the full range of weather events, from heat waves, to droughts, to hurricanes, to tornadoes, to flooding,” he says. “Having expertise here, at the university, gives us the opportunity to study extreme weather, its causes and its implications on society.”
This is particularly relevant for Shepherd’s critical research on the Brown Ocean Effect, a term coined at Georgia. In a series of papers, the Georgia team described how tropical cyclones can intensify or maintain strength as they move inland as a result of wet soils, irrigation or wetland interactions. Partnering with NASA to use satellites and climate models, he and his team are gaining further insights into this phenomenon and how it might influence future hurricane systems.
Contrary to popular belief, the deadliest aspect of hurricanes is water, not the wind. If they linger because of the extra boost provided by the Brown Ocean Effect, then that’s an immediate threat to people living inland.