Hurricanes occur in cycles every few decades, the last intense period in the U.S. being from 1940 to 1969. 'Camille', a Category 5 hurricane of such catastrophic force that it caused over a billion and a half dollars worth of damage at the time and killed 256 people, struck the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in 1969 with winds over 320 km/h. Yet, for the last quarter century, hurricane activity has been relatively mild. Scientists do not know the precise reason for the cycles of hurricane activity, but they could be caused by a phenomenon called the 'Atlantic Conveyor'. This is the name given to the gigantic current of water that flows cold from the top of the globe slowly along the Atlantic ocean floor to Antarctica and resurfaces decades later before flowing back north, absorbing heat as it crosses the equator. Since hurricanes derive their energy from the heat of warm water, it is thought that an increase in the speed of the' Conveyor', as it pulls warm water to the north, is an indicator of intensifying hurricane activity.
The use of GPS-dropwindsondes began in 1997. Small sensing devices dropped from planes at very high altitudes and over a wide area, they are far more revealing than previously used sensors. Because they weigh only 0.4 kilograms, they are able to stay aloft for longer periods and broadcast more data to the ground. Each sonde carries its own global positioning satellite receiver. The GPS signals received are used to calculate the direction and speed of wind, and data on temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure at half second intervals all the way down to the ocean surface.
Dropwindsonde information is fed into a special meteorological computer in Maryland which generates a global computer model of wind patterns. Data analysts have discovered a greater variability in the winds at sea level than previously believed, but many forecasting problems are beyond a solution, at least for the time being. For instance, it is not yet known why hurricanes can suddenly change in intensity; current computer models often fail to predict whether a hurricane will reach land or else cannot pinpoint where a strike will take place.
One surprising result of a recent computer simulation was the destruction of a large part of downtown New York. Hurricane researchers believe that the city is more likely than Miami to suffer a direct hit in the near future. Also, certain geographical features of the coastline near New York make it conceivable that a wall of water called a storm surge pushed ashore by hurricane winds would cause a devastating flooding of Manhattan. A storm surge was responsible for the more than 8000 deaths caused by the hurricane that destroyed the city of Galveston in 1900.
You are advised to spend about 5 minutes on Questions 1-4.
Refer to Reading Passage 25 "Tracking Hurricanes", and look at Questions 1 - 4 below.
Example: What do the letters NOAA stand for?
Q2. What reason is given for the lack of knowledge of hurricanes at sea?
Q3. Why was the hurricane which struck in 1926 not given a name?
Q4. What is the name of the strongest hurricane mentioned in the article?
Write your answers in boxes 5 -11 on your Answer Sheet. The first one has been done for you as an example.
Note that you must give your answer IN NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.
Q6 ........................................... energises all hurricanes.
Q7 ........................................... is a huge current of water flowing from north to south.
Q8 ........................................... could not stay in the air for a long time.
Q9 ........................................... know more about surface winds than they knew before.
Q10 ......................................... recently predicted a catastrophe for the city of New York.
Q11 ......................................... is a huge wave of water blown on land by a hurricane.
You are advised to spend about 7 minutes on Questions 12-15.
Refer to Reading Passage 25, and decide which of the answers best completes the following sentences.
a) previous U.S. hurricanes
b) future U.S. hurricanes
c) forecasting hurricane activity
a) has increased by 15 to 30% recently
c) was greater from 1940 to 1969 than at any previous time
d) can be more accurately measured by satellite assistance
a) w as the most catastrophic to hit the U. S. this century
b) caused $77 billion worth of damage
c) caused an explosion in population growth
d) none of the above
a) caused $1.5 billion dollars damage in today's money
b) was the worst U.S. storm this century in terms of life lost
c) was named in the 1950s
d) was not as intense as the hurricane of 1926
a) accurate tracking of hurricanes might be possible in the future
b) storm surges only occur within computer simulations
c) computer predictions are unreliable
d) the worst hurricanes occur in the U.S.
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