Learn how evidence of past tropical cyclones collected in an underground cave in Central America is being used to predict where future North Atlantic hurricanes will strike, in this video from NOVA: Killer Hurricanes. Amy Frappier is studying stalagmites, mineral deposits that form inside caves. She and her research team collected them in Belize. Stalagmite growth layers contain chemical traces of past hurricanes. Because hurricane rain contains lower levels of oxygen-18 (the heavier isotope) relative to oxygen-16 (“light” oxygen), a low ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 present in a stalagmite is evidence of a past hurricane. With data from caves across Central America and the Caribbean, Frappier’s analysis suggests a trend that she continues to explore: over a 450-year period, hurricanes have been moving northward from the equator toward the continental United States. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.
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