Climate Change Is Making Hurricanes Stronger, Researchers Find

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Hurricanes have become stronger worldwide during the past four decades, an analysis of observational data shows, supporting what theory and computer models h...
ave long suggested: Climate change is making these storms more intense and destructive.

The analysis, of satellite images dating to 1979, shows that warming has increased the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a major one of Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds greater than 110 mph, by about 8% a decade.

"The trend is there and it is real," said James P. Kossin, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "There's this remarkable building of this body of evidence that we're making these storms more deleterious."

Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study, said the findings were "much in line with what's expected."

"When you see things going up all over the globe like that, the ducks are kind of in order," he said.

But in the North Atlantic, where hurricane activity has increased in recent decades and storms have caused tens of billions of dollars of damage in the United States and the Caribbean, factors other than climate change may have played more of a role in the increase in intensity, Emanuel said.

Physics suggests that as the world warms, hurricanes and other tropical cyclones should get stronger, because warmer water provides more of the energy that fuels these storms. And climate simulations have long showed an increase in stronger hurricanes as warming continues.

But confirming that through observations has been problematic, because of the relatively small number of hurricanes…
The New York Times, Henry Fountain
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