The Good Side of Hurricanes: Can Have A Positive Impact On Ecosystems
In its devastating passage along the east coast of the United States, Hurricane Irene left at least 25 dead, in addition to nearly four million homes without electricity and extensive flooding.
But from the strict point of view of the affected ecosystems, and phenomena like Irene can have beneficial effects in some cases, according to the experts, it may seem very difficult to find something positive after the passage of a storm like the one we have experienced, with such a tremendous impact in such an expensive area’ Timothy Schott, meteorologist with the national weather service of the National Oceanic Administration, told the BBC, and Atmospheric (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA) in Silver Spring Maryland
But in some areas where they do not cause flooding, tropical cyclones – of which hurricanes are a type that can have a beneficial impact, according to Schott, for example, parts of North Carolina, northern Virginia and western Maryland were regions classified as abnormally dry, according to our scale of droughts for agricultural areas, the rain that fell on those sites is beneficial,’ Schott explained to the BBC, World, the same could be said of parts of North Carolina that suffered what we call a hydrological drought, that is a lack of rainfall for several months.
Another potential positive impact, according to Schott, is in the case of regions with high forest density, in which the passage of a hurricane can have an effect similar to that fires that help regenerate the vegetation cover, in forest areas, strong winds will cause sick and weak trees to fall, which contributes to the process of forest renewal, this occurs in areas with a high level of forest density, not in inhabited areas, especially because a tropical cyclone had not hit the northeastern part of the country for a long time, Schott said.
In other cases in the past, the arrival of hurricanes helped preserve the character of an ecosystem, according to Peter Ortner, director of the cooperative institute of Marine studies at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami, in conversations with BBC Mundo, Ortner referred to the specific case of the Bay of Florida, in the south of the state of the same name, it is an area with an average depth of only one meter, and one of the problems that occurred there over time was the accumulation of organic matter and sediments, due to the restriction in the circulation of water.
The restrictions are due, according to Ortner, on the one hand to the management of water resources and on the other hand to construction work, ” There was a rail line from Miami to Key West built on artificial land, now it does not exist anymore, but there is a road and the circulation from the ocean to the bay is limited,” at the same time, in the last 30 or 40 years in which these restrictions have existed, the incidence of hurricanes was lower, so the arrival of hurricane Georges (in 1998) had the effect of expelling organic matter and accumulated sediments “explained Ortner.