A new study shows that hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones are becoming stronger and potentially more deadly — thanks to global warming due to the climate crisis.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the study on Monday.
New Research Looks at More Data Than Previous Studies
The study looked at nearly 40 years of satellite data of global storms.
The new research builds on previous studies. Those studies showed a likely increase in stronger storms as global oceans had warmed, but data didn’t go back far enough to confidently say the increase was due to manmade global warming versus natural cycles that can span decades.
The latest finding added more years to the data set, which allows for statistically significant trends to become more clear — making it obvious that this is beyond natural climate variability. The earlier study only looked at approximately 25 years of data.
The study’s data showed that the probability of storms reaching major hurricane status — category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds in excess of 110 mph or higher — increased with each decade.
“The change is about 8 percent per decade,” said Jim Kossin, the author of the study. “In other words, during its lifetime, a hurricane is 8 percent more likely to be a major hurricane in this decade compared to the last decade.”
Kossin and his team’s research spanned the globe. It showed that storms across the world — not just in one area — are becoming stronger. This also means that storms are becoming more destructive, as storms on the higher-end of the scale produce a disproportionate amount of damage and deaths.
When speaking with CNN, Kossin noted that “almost all of the damage and mortality caused by hurricanes is done by major hurricanes (category 3 to 5).”
He continued, “Increasing the likelihood of having a major hurricane will certainly increase this risk.”
Global Warming Leading to Increased Sea Surface Temperatures
According to the study, global warming has increased sea surface temperature in regions where tropical cyclones form. The combination of these warmer temperatures, along with changes in atmospheric conditions, allows storms to easily reach higher intensities.
The warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are one of the main reasons for the observed increase in storm strength.
Scientists have long theorized that warmer oceans caused by manmade global warming would likely result in stronger hurricanes and typhoons. Climate models also show an increase going forward.
However, observations had not conclusively shown the increase before now, mainly because of inconsistent and short data sets.