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Hurricanes slowing due to rising CO2 levels

Date: 01 May 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

Scientists are warning that an increase in global warming could significantly slow down hurricanes, potentially leading to more destruction.

 

Background

The researchers are talking about the speed hurricanes progress, not wind speed. So this slow down means more time to carve out a trail of destruction with both wind and rain when they hit land.

 

Details

  • The stark warning is based on meteorological data collected since 1950, as well as readings taken on more recent storms from the last few years, and forward projections created by computer modelling.

  • Here the scientists are studying the 'translational' or forward motion of hurricanes, rather than the eye of the storm wind speeds. Because no matter how fast wind speeds are, the storm can still be slow moving.

  • Simulations suggest that future anthropogenic warming could lead to a significant slowing of hurricane motion, particularly in some populated mid-latitude regions.

  • Using detailed climate models, researchers ran six distinct patterns, based on 15 separate sets of initial conditions, which gave them a total of 90 different possible future scenarios.

  • The model was told to expect an increase in CO2 levels and subsequent global warming of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

  • That would cause the strong mid-latitude wind currents known as the westerlies to push further towards the poles, the simulations showed, leaving calmer conditions behind and less forward momentum for hurricanes.

  • Hurricanes in Asia and North America, along the latitudes close to New York, would be most affected, the models suggest. Hurricane speeds in the tropics would not be altered by the rise in temperatures.

  • The study was unable to find a definitive link between climate change brought on by human activity and the recent slowdown in hurricane patterns: at the moment, there isn't enough data to rule out random variations or some local cause.

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