The Weather Network – Risk of Extreme Atlantic Hurricane Seasons Doubled by Climate Change, Study Says

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Thursday, April 14, 2022, 1:46 p.m. – This year, 19 named tropical storms are expected to form across the Atlantic Ocean, compared to an average of 14.

Scientists say the influence of human-induced climate change on the Atlantic tropical cyclone season is becoming increasingly clear and a new peer-reviewed report study Posted in Weather and climate dynamics reports that sea surface temperatures have doubled the chances of extremely active tropical cyclone seasons in the Atlantic.

Data collected from 1982 to 2020 revealed that an extremely active tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic has become 200% more likely in 2020 due to warming ocean temperatures.

“We have re-simulated the past 40 hurricane seasons with sea surface temperatures as we would expect for the level of global warming in 1982 and 2020. From the difference in these simulations, we infer the increased likelihood of extremely active hurricane seasons,” study lead author Peter Pfleiderer told The Weather Network.

“The increase in Atlantic tropical cyclone activity since the 1980s can be robustly attributed to variations in atmospheric circulation as well as increases in sea surface temperature,” the report said. ‘study.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines an “active Atlantic tropical cyclone season” as one that has an accumulated cyclonic energy (ACE) greater than 160. The 2017 season, one of costliest on record, had an ACE of around 225 This year’s ACE is expected to be 164, which would make it the third extremely active season in the past decade.

Hurricane Harvey (Jill Carlson: Flicker)(CC BY 2.0)
Flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey (2017) in Roman Forest, Texas. (Jill Carlson/ flicker)(DC BY 2.0)

“Although attribution of individual tropical cyclone events remains difficult, there is no doubt that climate change is creating more intense storms,” Pfleiderer said in a press release.

“Our results do not imply that increasing sea surface temperatures lead to more tropical cyclones – but indicate a trend towards more intense storms and therefore more extreme outcomes for seasons with many tropical cyclones.”

Warmer oceans draw more water vapor into the atmosphere, which fuels tropical cyclones and hurricanes and can lead to heavier and more destructive rainfall. Finished 90% excess heat created by greenhouse gases have been absorbed by the world’s oceans since the 1970s.

NOAA states that numerous studies indicate that in a scenario where the planet is 2°C warmer than pre-industrial temperatures, there will be up to 15% increase in precipitation rates on average within 100 km of a cyclone tropical.

Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm during the 2017 disastrous season, caused a total of $125 billion in damages in the United States, which ranks second after the cost of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina (2005). Harvey is the largest tropical cyclone on record in the United States, and its destruction was largely due to extreme rainfall and subsequent flooding.

Hurricane Harvey (NASA)
The maps show sea surface temperatures in the western Gulf of Mexico on August 23 and 30, 2017, as well as the track of Storm Harvey. The storm dropped historic amounts of precipitation and churned the Gulf of Mexico, causing dramatic cooling. (NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using data from Coral Reef Watch and Unisys)

Harvey lasted 117 hours, which broke the previous duration record set by Hurricane Fern (1971), and during that time dumped more than 1,500 mm of accumulated rain in parts of Texas and displaced more than 30,000 people due to flooding.

The study comes days after experts at Colorado State University released their annual outlook for the upcoming Atlantic tropical cyclone season (June 1 to November 30), which is again expected to be above average.

This year, 19 named tropical storms are expected to form in the Atlantic Ocean, up from an average of 14, and four are likely to become major hurricanes, when normally only three reach that threshold.

Thumbnail Credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus


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