The Effects of Warm Core Rings on Hurricane Intensification in the Gulf of Mexico

Justin Alexander Kovac

Blair Student Finalists in National Intel Science Search 


This study investigated the ocean's role in hurricane intensification for a project in earth and planetary science. Warm pools of water in the Gulf of Mexico, known as warm core rings (WCRs) were studied with respect to their hurricane interactions. In the process, the first census of WCRs was conducted using satellite altimetry, and a new statistic was tracked: tropical cyclone heat potential. In matching WCR locations with the tracks of tropical cyclones traveling through the

Gulf during an 11-year period, the findings indicate that tropical cyclones passing over WCRs intensified by an average of 13.4 knots. It is possible that this work will result in better predictions of hurricane strength.


Justin Alexander Kovac is one of Four Montgomery Blair High School students to become finalists in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search, out of 40 in all of the United States.  This is the most finalists from any high school or school district in the nation.  Justin, with perfect SAT scores, also competes in track and field and enjoys snorkeling, cycling and swing dancing. He plans to study engineering at Stanford.