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Atlantic Hurricanes Are Strengthening Faster, Partially Because of Climate Change, Study Finds

Published Thursday in the journal Nature Communications, the findings compiled by a team of hurricane experts – several of whom work for NOAA – concluded that rapid intensification is happening more often than it should.

Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin are exploding into monster storms at a rapid pace more and more often, and climate change is one reason why, a new study has found.

Published Thursday in the journal Nature Communications, the findings compiled by a team of hurricane experts – several of whom work for NOAA – concluded that rapid intensification is happening more often than it should.

The result can be a hurricane that grows from a relatively tame Category 1 to a massive Category 4 or 5 storm, the most recent example being Hurricane Michael, which ravaged the Florida Panhandle last October (the Gulf of Mexico is included as part of the Atlantic Basin).

"There’s just a whole host of issues that come along with rapid intensification, and none of them are good," Jim Kossin, a NOAA hurricane expert and co-author of the study, told the Washington Post.

(MORE: A Look Back at the Devastating Hurricane Florence)

When climate change is introduced into the study, the findings make sense. From 1982 to 2009 – the period studied by the researchers – incidents of rapid intensification increased at a rate much faster than in models that omitted climate change. This suggests the warming oceans, increasing in temperature faster than normal because of carbon dioxide emissions, are playing a big role in this increase.

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