Hurricanes cool the Atlantic
As water vapor evaporates from the warm ocean surface, it is forced upward in the convective clouds that surround the eyewall and rainband regions of a storm. As the water vapor cools and condenses from a gas back to a liquid state, it releases latent heat. The release of latent heat warms the surrounding air, making it lighter and thus promoting more vigorous cloud development.
Movie from NASA Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS)
Hurricane Heat Engine
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) provides a closer look at hurricanes using a unique combination of passive and active microwave instruments designed to peer inside cloud systems and measure rainfall. TRMM allows scientists to study the combustion process in the hurricane engine and relate this process to intensification or weakening.
This is the standard definition version of the Hurricane Heat Engine - Cutaway animation.
Animator: Susan Twardy (HTSI) (Lead)
Scientist: J. Marshall Shepherd (NASA/GSFC)