What are Medicanes?

Published: September 22, 2020

The Mediterranean hurricanes are called medicanes. The scientists have recently warned that these hurricanes have now become more frequent lately. This is mainly due to human induced climate change.

How are medicanes different from tropical cyclones?

The medicanes are usually formed during winter season. They occur once or twice a year.  They occur in colder regions as compared to tropical cyclones. Also, their wind speed is lower than that of tropical cyclones. They are also smaller in diameter. The core of medicanes is colder as compared to that of the tropical cyclones.

Why have medicanes increased lately?

They have increased in number lately because of global warming. The increased sea surface temperature of the Mediterranean sea paves way for these cyclones to take more of tropical appearances. The increase in SST is also increasing the wind speed of these storms and causing heavy rainfall. Earlier medicanes were common only in Mediterranean sea. However, in the past two decades they are even formed over the Black Sea. Two such Storms were formed recently one in 2005 and the other in in 2012.

What is unusual in Mediterranean sea?

The Mediterranean sea is generally dry and evaporating. Therefore, cyclonic storms do not form easily and are also hard to detect. However, the Mediterranean cyclones have increased lately due to increase in Sea Surface temperature of the sea. This has caused severe flooding in Italy, France and Spain.

Effect of ENSO on Medicanes

ENSO is El Nino Southern Oscillation that is developed over the Pacific Ocean. The 2020 year according to the World Meteorological Organisation is a La Nina year. Usually La Nina reduces the number of hurricanes. But this year in spite of a mild La Nina in the Pacific, hurricanes are very active. This means that the impacts of El Nino southern oscillation is getting modulated due to global warming of all oceans including the Mediterranean. This is why in spite of a mild La Nina the number of Mediterranean cyclones have increased.