Tropical cyclones in Asia could have double the destructive power by turn of century, study finds

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Using data from nearly four decades from 1979 to 2016, researchers found that the destructive power of tropical cyclones had increased dramatically, with stronger cyclones that touched land for longer and moved farther south. inland.

The study, carried out by researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and published in Frontiers in Earth Science, indicates that tropical cyclones now last between two and nine hours longer and traveled an average of 100 km (62 miles) further inland than four decades ago.

The study looked at cyclones over East and Southeast Asia and found that the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and the southern region of China were the hardest hit between 1979 and 2016.

The researchers also found that by the turn of the century, the average wind speed affecting Asian lands could increase by two meters per second, or 5 miles per hour. Small increases in a cyclone’s maximum wind speed can result in much higher levels of destruction.

Study suggests an average cyclone by then, will last about 5 hours longer and travel 92 kilometers (57 miles) further inland, nearly doubling their destructive power.

Tropical cyclones are among the most dangerous natural disasters, with flooding, destructive winds and storm surges. Over the past 50 years, these cyclones have claimed nearly 780,000 lives and approximately $ 1.4 billion in economic losses around the world.

In June, Typhoon In-fa and Typhoon Cempaka brought extreme rains of more than 150mm per hour to China’s Henan Province, breaking a record in Zhengzhou City. More than 300 people have been killed in the floods that swept through central China, officials said.

And in September 2021, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused torrential rains and flash floods in New York City, killing at least 50 people.

“Both disasters caused enormous economic and human losses,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Chi-Yung Tam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Tam and his colleagues are calling for more action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet and increase disaster preparedness in Asia.

Intensification of storms

Several studies suggest that warming ocean temperatures intensify tropical cyclones.

One such study, conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), examined nearly 40 years of satellite data on global storms. The study, published last year, found that global warming has increased the sea surface temperature in areas where tropical cyclones form. The combination of these warm temperatures, along with changes in atmospheric conditions, made it easier for storms to reach higher intensities.
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If a cyclone intensifies upon landing, it will move further inland, amplifying its destructive power.

While man-made global warming is likely fueling increased storm severity, natural weather cycles and events can also strengthen – or weaken – the intensity and frequency of cyclones.

Tam said numerical models predict that the climate crisis “is likely to continue the upward trend of land-affecting typhoons and their impacts on inland regions.”

“More inland regions of Asia could be exposed to more severe storm-related disasters in the future due to the climate crisis,” he said.


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