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BOB HIRSHON (host):
Learning from ancient tempests. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
It’s hard for scientists to say whether the number and intensity of hurricanes nowadays is unusual, because instrument-based weather records go back only about 160 years. Now a new branch of study called paleotempestology looks for evidence of storms much older. At a meeting of the Geological Society of America, scientists described studies of a deep sinkhole on Florida’s panhandle that’s been undisturbed for at least 2500 years. By studying layers of ocean sand sediment deposited there by storm surge, they’ve come up with a detailed record of hurricane activity there over many centuries.
Other teams described paleotempestology studies along the mid-Atlantic coast and on the Black Sea in the Ukraine. The researchers hope to get a better handle on the cycles and underlying causes of destructive storms. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.