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Karthik Balaguru, PhD


Karthik Balaguru, PhD



The ability to understand and forecast dangerous storms is both an imperative for public safety and a window onto how the climate affects—and is affected by—the oceans. Karthik Balaguru studies the factors that contribute to events such as hurricanes or tropical cyclones, analyzing data to uncover new insights relevant to both weather forecasting and climate models.

Analyzing 30 years' worth of satellite hurricane data encompassing 1986 through 2015, Balaguru and colleagues concluded in a 2018 study that hurricanes intensify more strongly and quickly than they did 30 years ago. They attributed this effect to a climate cycle known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation but did not rule out human-caused climate change.

“So many things have to come together" for a storm to become powerful rapidly, Balaguru told The New York Times. His research has shown a strong link between ocean salinity and rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones in the eastern Caribbean and western tropical Atlantic, pointing to that variable's potential to improve forecasting ability. He has also explored how storms formed by the surrounding atmosphere affect the ocean ecosystem. In a 2021 study published in “Geophysical Research Letters,” they found that increasingly intense tropical cyclones were responsible for increases in sea surface temperature cooling and chlorophyll concentrations in recent decades.

More Information

PNNL Staff Biography

PNNL Staff page, 

Officials Warn of ‘Catastrophic Storm Surge’ With Hurricane Laura.” August 26, 2020, New York Times.

Tropical Cyclones Suppress Rainfall in Their Wakes.” September 22, 2020, Eos.