Tropical cyclones that strike the United States in the North Atlantic are remaining stronger after making landfall, new research has found, suggesting these storms could cause greater destruction in areas farther from the coast.
New research has found a troubling trend after analyzing the historical intensity data for storms that made landfall over North America over a fifty-year period from 1967 to 2018, which examined the rate at which tropical storms “decay” or weaken, AccuWeather reported. The study found that storms making landfall are remaining stronger for a longer period of time.
The study authors wrote: “Tropical cyclones weaken after they reach land. But it emerges that for the North Atlantic basin, storms are weakening more slowly as regional sea surface temperatures increase.”
According to the study authors, the warming climate and resulting rise in ocean temperatures are the key factors in the trend of strengthening storms.
According to the research, the study revealed “a significant long-term shift towards slower decay,” which results in storms maintaining strength, or higher intensity, as they move over land for an extended period of time.
“It is known that tropical-cyclone intensity (measured by maximum wind speed) typically decreases rapidly after the storm reaches land,” the researchers wrote in their published paper. “However, existing models do not take into account whether and how this rate of storm decay after landfall depends on climate.”
The study authors wrote that a longer and slower period of decay aligns “with a long-term regional mean sea surface temperature over the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean, which are adjacent to land and supply the moisture for the storms before landfall.”
Writing in Nature, summarizing the lesson from their study, the authors wrote: “We must take into account residual atmospheric effects from the adjacent ocean, landfall location, and effects induced by the land surface itself. Integrating this understanding into hurricane models should help to improve our predictions of the future risks posed by individual storms and over the long term.”
The research was titled: “Tropical cyclones could last longer after landfall in a warming world,” and was published in the journal Nature. The study was conducted by two researchers from Japan’s Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Lin Li and Pinaki Chakraborty.
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