During one of the most active hurricane seasons in recent years, 3 simultaneous hurricanes – Katia, Irma and Jose – were captured in this satellite image on September 8, 2017. Image via NOAA.

Global warming is influencing where tropical cyclones rage

While the global average number of tropical cyclones each year hasn’t budged from 86 over the last 4 decades, climate change has been influencing the locations of these deadly storms.

Tropical cyclones are basically hurricanes by another name. Over the past 40 years, the global average number of tropical cyclones per year has stayed at 86, but global warming has been influencing where these deadly storms are happening. According to new study published May 4, 2020 in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 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 South Indian Ocean.

The researchers used climate models to determine that greenhouse gases, human-made aerosols – including particulate pollution- and volcanic eruptions were influencing where tropical cyclones were hitting. Hiroyuki Murakami is a climate researcher at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and lead author of the study. He said in a statement:

"We show for the first time that this observed geographic pattern cannot be explained only by natural variability."

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