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Study: Climate change likely to make hurricanes stronger and more frequent

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HERE‘s another good reason why I’m glad that I don’t live in a coastal area:

Hurricanes are Mother Nature’s largest and most destructive storms. Fed by warm ocean waters and moist atmospheric conditions, about 90 such storms — also known as tropical cyclones — form worldwide each year. With the population of coastal areas growing daily and sea level on the rise, how these monster storms may change as the climate continues to warm is an increasingly urgent question facing climate scientists, insurance companies, and public officials.

A new study by Kerry Emanuel, a prominent hurricane researcher at MIT, found that contrary to previous findings, tropical cyclones are likely to become both stronger and more frequent in the years to come, especially in the western North Pacific, where storms can devastate the heavily populated coastlines of Asian nations. Emanuel’s research showed the same holds true for the North Atlantic, where about 12 percent of the world’s tropical cyclones spin each year.

Emanuel’s study casts doubt on what had been the consensus view of most climate scientists — that in most ocean basins, tropical cyclones are likely to become less frequent as the world warms, but that the storms that do occur are likely to contain stronger winds and heavier rains…

Emanuel’s study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses the latest generation of global climate models to power a series of high-resolution, regional simulations of tropical cyclones around the world.

The study compared the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones during the period from 1950 to 2005 against projections for the 21st century, from 2006 to 2100, using a scenario in which global emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, rise rapidly without being significantly curtailed.

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There are, however, two key points of agreement between Emanuel’s new study and the rest of the scientific literature on hurricanes and climate change. The first is that as ocean temperatures continue to increase, the frequency of high intensity hurricanes is projected to increase as well…

Second, virtually all the studies show that tropical cyclones are likely to dump significantly more rainfall in coming years compared to the historical record, and inland flooding is one of the leading causes of hurricane-related deaths and damage.

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