ORDO NEWS — Over the past 40 years in many regions of the world there has been an increase in the activity of hurricanes. And the ongoing observations of scientists confirm what computer models have long been talking about : global climate change will inevitably affect the intensity and destructiveness of such tropical cyclones.
According to the findings of experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and their colleagues from the Wisconsin-Madison Institute of Meteorological Research, presented on the PNAS magazine website, analysis of satellite images from 1979 to 2017 showed that climate warming increased the risk that a hurricane would turn into a large one (category 3 and higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale) with steady winds, the speed of which will exceed 180 kilometers per hour, by about eight percent in every decade.
“There is a trend, and it is real,” says James P. Cossin, lead author of the work. “We got a wonderful body of evidence that people make such storms more pernicious.” Thanks to the modeling and our understanding of atmospheric physics, the study is consistent with what we expect to see in a warm climate like ours.”
The study is based on the previous work of the Kossin team, published in 2013, in which trends have been identified to increase hurricanes in the 28-year data set. However, that time interval was not considered convincing enough; it required more research on hurricanes to demonstrate statistically significant results.
To confirm their arguments, the authors expanded the study to include global data on hurricane activity around the world and their satellite images for 1979-2017. Using analytical methods, including infrared temperature measurements from geostationary satellites, to assess the intensity of storms, a team of scientists was able to create a more unified data set to determine future trends.
“The main obstacle to finding trends is that data is collected using the best technologies at a given point in time,” Kossin explains. “Each year, the data is slightly different from last year, each new satellite has new tools and collects information in various ways, so in the end we get a patchwork from all the satellite data that were woven together.”
In 2014, scientists discovered hurricane migration from the pole, when tropical cyclones moved further north and south, putting the coastal population at greater risk, which until then had not been so much affected. In 2018, it turned out that hurricanes were moving slower due to climate change – this led to a greater likelihood of flooding, as severe storms hover over cities and other areas often for longer periods.
In recent decades, increased activity of hurricanes has been observed in the North Atlantic, while under it is meant not only intensity, but also duration and frequency. Predictive models suggest that 2020 may be “rich” in hurricanes.
According to the researchers, each region has natural variability or other factors that can affect the intensity of hurricanes and make it difficult to identify the effects of climate warming. “Our results show that these storms intensified at the global and regional levels, which is consistent with expectations of how hurricanes will respond to warming,” said the head of the study. “This is a good step forward and an increase in our confidence that global warming has intensified hurricanes, but the results do not tell us exactly which of the trends is caused by human activities and which may simply be natural variability.”
In addition, some scholars have argued that the long-term natural variability of sea surface temperature over the decades has played a major role in storm activity in the North Atlantic. Others say that the mandatory reduction in emissions from burning fossil fuels over the past decades has further impacted ocean temperature through a series of atmospheric connections.
In any case, whatever the main factors, the new study suggests that climate change will play a significant role in increasing the strength of storms in the North Atlantic and other regions. And planning how to mitigate the destructiveness of storms must take this fact into account in order to reduce risks in the long run.
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