Home / News / World /  Does climate change affect hurricanes? All questions answered here

With Hurricane Fiona slamming into Puerto Rico and then battered the Dominican Republic, leaving more than 1 million people without running water or power, a debate has started among the scientists if climate change is affecting hurricanes.

Though scientists haven't yet determined whether climate change influenced Fiona's strength or behavior, there's strong evidence that these devastating storms are getting worse.

Is climate change affecting hurricanes?

Experts claim that climate change is making hurricanes wetter, windier and altogether more intense. Evidence also shows that climate change is causing storms to travel more slowly, meaning they can dump more water in one place.

Adding more, experts add that in past 40 years, the ocean has absorbed about 90% of the warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change can also boost the amount of rainfall delivered by a storm as warmer atmosphere can also hold more moisture, water vapor builds up until clouds break, sending down heavy rain.

ALSO READ: Fiona: East Canada loses power historic storm batters country. See pics

According to an April 2022 study in the journal Nature Communications, climate change boosted hourly rainfall rates in hurricane-force storms by 8%-11% during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist expect taht at 2C of warming, hurricane wind speeds could increase by up to 10%. They also project the proportion of hurricanes that reach the most intense levels and could rise by about 10% this century. To date, less than a fifth of storms have reached this intensity since 1851.

Is climate change affecting storms?

Yes, it is. Hurricanes are also making landfall in regions far outside the historic norm.

Trends have shown that in recent years, some storms are reaching peak intensity and making landfall farther north than in the past.

Scientists cite the trend is worrying for mid-latitude cities such as New York, Boston, Beijing, and Tokyo, as "infrastructure is not prepared" for such storms.

How hurricanes form?

When warm seawater evaporates, its heat energy is transferred to the atmosphere. This fuels the storm's winds to strengthen. Without it, hurricanes can't intensify and will fizzle out.

Difference between cyclone, typhoon an hurricane?

Depending on where and how they were formed, these big storms get different names.

According to scientists, storms that form over the Atlantic Ocean or central and eastern North Pacific are called "hurricanes" when their wind speeds reach at least 119 kilometers per hour. Till that point, they are called "tropical storms."

While in East Asia, violent, swirling storms that form over the Northwest Pacific are called "typhoons", while "cyclones" emerge over the Indian Ocean and South Pacific.

With Reuters inputs.

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