Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Science | By

Season’s 1st tropical storm Aletta forms in eastern Pacific - NHC

Season’s 1st tropical storm Aletta forms in eastern Pacific - NHC

According to NOAA, inland flooding accounts for more than 50% of hurricane-related deaths each year.

Researchers claim that as the planet's poles heat up, pressure gradients around the world are changing, reducing the winds that push on these storms.

"The slower the storm gets, the more rain an area will get", said Jim Kossin.

The unusually slow-moving Hurricane Harvey was a recent example. But when Atlantic storms hit land - like Harvey did in 2017 - the study said the slowdown is a significant 20%.

Kossin published his findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.

With wind speeds that can top more than 180 miles per hour, hurricanes are not usually thought of as slow.

Kossin's work was based on details of nearly 70 years' worth of storms, but he made no attempt to determine what was causing the slowdown. Kossin found that tropical cyclones' forward speed slowed by 10% between 1949 and 2016.

Climate change increased both the intensity of the rainfall and the likelihood that the storm would occur.

They say while global warming is projected to increase the severity of the strongest tropical cyclones, warming may bring other more serious effects such as the general weakening of summertime tropical atmospheric circulation.

For instance, it is expected that hurricanes will rain about 7 to 10 percent more per degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming, as the atmosphere retains more water vapor, Kossin explained.

"I went in with that hypothesis and looked at the data, and out popped the signal that was much bigger than anything I was expecting", Kossin said.

Scientists expect climate change is going to make tropical cyclones - including hurricanes - more severe.

"What we're seeing nearly certainly reflects both natural and human-caused changes", Kossin said.

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