CHARLOTTE, N.C. (PINPOINT WEATHER) – The unforgiving sea is a barren desert of water increasing in temperatures and driving our global weather.

NOAA oceanographer Greg Foltz explains how a warming ocean impacts tropical systems and global weather patterns.

Click here to see our latest Pinpoint Weather forecast! 🌤️🌦️

Sea surface temperatures have increased just over half a degree Celsius over the past four decades or just over one degree Fahrenheit. Small hinges swing big doors, and the same can be said for the 100-foot layer of ocean water that feeds these tropical systems.

Sea surface temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit drive the development of tropical storms. The warmer the water, the more potent the fuel.

With tropical cyclones accounting for the most death and destruction compared to other weather disasters in U.S. history, scientists are constantly working to understand better how they happen.

Senior director of ocean data programs at Saildrone Matt Womble explains the unique problem the US-based company is equipped to solve. Their fleet of uncrewed surface ocean observation platforms is powered by renewable energy allowing them to operate for months, if not years at a time.

“Across the board, it’s that idea of being able to monitor the ocean, at scale, so, large spatial areas across long time periods, to help inform how the ocean is driving global weather patterns,” Womble explained.

While confidence has grown in tracking tropical cyclones, predicting intensity can still pose a challenge. With the ability to steer and direct these drones in the path of active systems — researchers can collect real-time data, giving them a minute-by-minute look into how these storms intensify.

Get breaking news alerts with the Queen City News mobile app. It’s FREE! Download for iOS or Android

With a fleet of unmanned Saildrones navigating the seven seas, we can peel back the layers into how warm sea surface temperatures help these storms mature. Better understanding leads to better forecasting, which can save lives and protect property in future years.