Nav: Home

Study: Climate change has been influencing where tropical cyclones rage

May 04, 2020

While the global average number of tropical cyclones each year has not budged from 86 over the last four decades, climate change has been influencing the locations of where these deadly storms occur, according to new NOAA-led research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New research indicates that the number of tropical cyclones has been rising since 1980 in the North Atlantic and Central Pacific, while storms have been declining in the western Pacific and in the southern Indian Ocean.

"We show for the first time that this observed geographic pattern cannot be explained only by natural variability," said Hiroyuki Murakami, a climate researcher at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and lead author.

Murakami used climate models to determine that greenhouse gases, manmade aerosols including particulate pollution, and volcanic eruptions were influencing where tropical cyclones were hitting.

3 forces influence where storms are hitting


Greenhouse gases are warming the upper atmosphere and the ocean. This combines to create a more stable atmosphere with less chance that convection of air currents will help spawn and build up tropical cyclones.

Particulate pollution and other aerosols help create clouds and reflect sunlight away from the earth, causing cooling, Murakami said. The decline in particulate pollution due to pollution control measures may increase the warming of the ocean by allowing more sunlight to be absorbed by the ocean.

Diminishing manmade aerosols is one of the reasons for the active tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic over the last 40 years, Murakami said. However, toward the end of this century, tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are projected to decrease due to the "calming" effect of greenhouse gases.

Volcanic eruptions have also altered the location of where tropical cyclones have occurred, according to the research. For example, the major eruptions in El Chichón in Mexico in 1982 and Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 caused the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere to cool, which shifted tropical cyclone activity southward for a few years. Ocean warming has resumed since 2000, leading to increased tropical cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere.

Looking ahead: Scientists predict fewer tropical cyclones by 2100 but likely more severe


Climate models project decreases in tropical cyclones toward the end of the 21st century from the annual average of 86 to about 69 worldwide, according to the new study. Declines are projected in most regions except in the Central Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii, where tropical cyclone activity is expected to increase.

Despite a projected decline in tropical cyclones by 2100, many of these cyclones will be significantly more severe. Why? Rising sea surface temperatures fuel the intensity and destructiveness of tropical storms.

"We hope this research provides information to help decision-makers understand the forces driving tropical cyclone patterns and make plans accordingly to protect lives and infrastructure," Murakami said.
-end-


NOAA Headquarters

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.
Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: IRL Online
Original broadcast date: March 20, 2020. Our online lives are now entirely interwoven with our real lives. But the laws that govern real life don't apply online. This hour, TED speakers explore rules to navigate this vast virtual space.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Falling
There are so many ways to fall–in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls.  We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.