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Heightened threat of destructive potential of cyclones increases with ocean warming

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:
Tim Li, (808) 956-9427
Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, International Pacific Research Center
Rachel C F Lentz, (808) 956-2415
Outreach Specialist, International Pacific Research Center
Posted: Oct 2, 2017

Hurricane Irma (category 5) looms large approaching Cuba and Florida on Sept 8, 2017. Credit: NOAA
Hurricane Irma (category 5) looms large approaching Cuba and Florida on Sept 8, 2017. Credit: NOAA

The Atlantic hurricane season so far has seen a rash of historic extremes, between Harvey dropping up to 50 inches of rain, Irma generating talk of whether to add a category 6 to the intensity scale and Maria strengthening from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane in just two days. This recent activity has generated much speculation about the role of climate change in the progression of these and future storms.

Tim Li, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s International Pacific Research Center, guided a study recently published in Scientific Reports examining the question: What is the impact of ocean warming on the size and destructiveness of tropical cyclones? The study concluded that with warmer sea surface temperatures, tropical cyclones become not only stronger, with higher maximum wind speeds, but also larger, with gale-force winds covering a greater area.

For more go to the UH News story at: http://www.hawaii.edu/news/2017/10/02/destructive-potential-of-cyclones-increases-with-ocean-warming/