Hurricanes Are Slowing Down Thanks To Climate Change, And The Outcome Could Be Devastating

A rendering of a large hurricane moving toward Texas. Sasa Kadrijevic/Shutterstock

Aliyah Kovner 07 Jun 2018, 12:00

Despite expecting, logically, that the data would show a lowering of hurricane translation speed during the 67-year window, a period during which the planet warmed by 0.5°C, Kossin was surprised by the magnitude of the effect.

“I'm not sure that I was quite prepared for the amount of slowing that I did find,” Kossin said in a statement. Given that global warming is projected to boost rainfall in wet areas, he speculates that a double whammy effect will occur as a higher proportion of hurricanes stall, as Harvey did, in years to come.

Furthermore, it is already widely accepted that hurricane severity will increase due to climate change. Officials and residents of affected areas should plan accordingly.  

 

Some climate scientists have expressed uncertainty over whether this study’s observational data is sufficient to support the link between global warming, translation speed, and rainfall, yet Kossin is unfazed.

He points to a climate modeling-based investigation published earlier this year that found that past tropical cyclones would have had faster wind speeds, lower storm translation speeds, and higher precipitation rates if they occurred in warmer climates.

“That gives us more confidence that the slowing is there and is related to warming.”

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