Warm Waters Triggered More Atlantic Hurricanes Last Year

Posted: Sep 30 2018, 12:24am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 30 2018, 12:27am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Warm Waters Triggered More Atlantic Hurricanes Last Year
Credit: NOAA

New study says there could be five to eight major hurricanes a year around 2100.

A vigorous and continuous rise in water temperature intensified 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, a new study suggests.

Last year's lineup of powerful hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria, prompted scientists to take a close look at their processes and understand the driving forces behind them. It is well known that warm ocean temperatures fuel hurricanes and right now water in Atlantic is very warm, increasing the amount and intensity of hurricanes.

On average, an Atlantic hurricane season three major hurricanes a year since 2000. Before that it averaged close to two. Researchers are expecting more storms in the future and predict there would be five to eight major hurricanes a year around 2100.

“We will see more active hurricane seasons like 2017 in the future.” Lead author Hiro Murakami, climate scientist and hurricane expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said.

While many factors play a role, warm ocean waters provide the energy needed for a storm to rapidly gain strength and maintain it. Ocean water temperature must be 79 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for a hurricane to form. The warmer the water, the more powerful a hurricane can become. A powerful hurricane will resist forces that would cause it to weaken.

Six major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph hit parts of the United States and the Caribbean last year. Using computer simulations, researchers showed that water in the main hurricane development region averaged 0.7 degrees warmer than normal for the entire 2017 season. Atlantic is warming faster than the rest of the world's oceans and this difference will probably increase the number of major storms by two or more per year.

“We explore factors potentially linked to the enhanced major hurricane activity in the Atlantic during 2017. Using a suite of high-resolution model experiments, we show that the increase in 2017 major hurricanes was not primarily caused by La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean, but mainly by pronounced warm sea surface conditions in the tropical North Atlantic.”Authors wrote in the study.

“It is further shown that, in the future, a similar pattern of North Atlantic surface warming, superimposed upon long-term increasing sea surface temperature from increases in greenhouse gas concentrations and decreases in aerosols, will likely lead to even higher numbers of major hurricanes.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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