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The phenomenon known as the ‘brown ocean effect’ could muddy the waters yet further for residents in the lone star state. A team of scientists involved in a NASA-funded project has discovered that the moisture from saturated soil can actually be absorbed by the storm, allowing it to wreak even more havoc as it hits land. Storms normally lose strength as they pass over land because water, their primary energy source, is cut off. However, Marshall Shepard, a climate expert told AP this might not happen when Tropical Storm Bill reaches the shores of Texas.
"All the things a hurricane likes over the ocean is what we have over land right now," said Shepherd, director of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia, who was one of the project’s leading researchers.
Typical tropical storms gather power from the warm waters of the ocean. But this new class of cyclone generates its energy from the evaporation of abundant soil moisture - a phenomenon that researchers are calling the "brown ocean."
"The land essentially mimics the moisture-rich environment of the ocean, where the storm originated," explains Theresa Andersen of the University of Georgia in Athens.
The land essentially mimics the moisture-rich environment of the ocean, where the storm originated