According to a new study by scientists at the NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Climate Program Office, long-term data shows hurricanes are getting stronger.
In regions where hurricanes form, maximum sustained winds are getting stronger. “Through modeling and our understanding of atmospheric physics, the study agrees with what we would expect to see in a warming climate like ours,” says James Kossin, a NOAA scientist based at UW–Madison. His research identified trends of intense hurricanes over 28 years of data. Infrared temperature measurements from satellites are used to estimate hurricanes intensities. “The main hurdle we have for finding trends is that the data are collected using the best technology at the time,” says Kossin. “Every year the data are a bit different than last year, each new satellite has new tools and captures data in different ways, so in the end we have a patchwork quilt of all the satellite data that have been woven together.” In 2018, Kossin demonstrated that hurricanes are moving slower across land due to changes in the Earth’s climate. Which results in floods as storms linger over areas for an extended amount of time. “Our results show that these storms have become stronger on global and regional levels, which is consistent with expectations of how hurricanes respond to a warming world,” says Kossin. “It’s a good step forward and increases our confidence that global warming has made hurricanes stronger, but our results don’t tell us precisely how much of the trends are caused by human activities and how much may be just natural variability.”
New data shows hurricanes could be getting stronger
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