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Hurricanes and other tropical cyclones inject ice far into the stratosphere, possibly feeding global warming, researchers now say.
The finding, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, provides more evidence of the intertwining of severe weather and global warming by demonstrating a mechanism by which storms could drive climate change. Many scientists now believe that global warming, in turn, is likely to increase the severity of tropical cyclones.
The stratosphere runs from around 6 miles (10 km) up to about 31 miles (50 km), though the boundaries are fluid, and the whole setup is significantly lower at the poles.
Using infrared satellite data gathered from 1983 to 2006, Romps and Kuang analyzed towering cloud tops associated with thousands of tropical cyclones, many of them near the Philippines, Mexico, and Central America. Their analysis demonstrated that in a cyclone, narrow plumes of miles-tall storm clouds can rise so explosively through the atmosphere that they often push into the stratosphere.