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Current Affairs

Climate change causes cyclones to stay stronger

Date: 01 December 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

According to a study, climate change is causing hurricanes that make landfall to take more time to weaken.

 

Background

This means that in the future, as the Earth continues to warm, hurricanes are more likely to reach people farther inland and be more destructive.

 

Details

  • The scientists analyzed North Atlantic hurricanes that made landfall over the past half a century. They found that during the course of the first day after landfall, hurricanes weakened almost twice as slowly now than they did 50 years ago.

  • Researchers showed that hurricanes that develop over warmer oceans carry more moisture and therefore stay stronger for longer after hitting land. 

  • The scientists tested the link between warmer sea surface temperature and slower weakening past landfall by creating computer simulations of four different hurricanes and setting different temperatures for the surface of the sea.

  • The moisture taken up from the surface of the ocean is the "fuel" that intensifies and sustains a hurricane's destructive power, with heat energy from the moisture converted into powerful winds.

  • The researchers found that even though each simulated hurricane made landfall at the same intensity, the ones that developed over warmer waters took more time to weaken.

  • Hurricanes that develop over warmer oceans can take up and store more moisture, which sustains them for longer and prevents them from weakening as quickly.

 

Cyclone landfall

  • Landfall is the event of a storm moving over land after being over water.
    A tropical cyclone is classified as making landfall when the centre of the storm moves across the coast.

  • Landfall is distinct from a direct hit. A direct hit is where the core of high winds (or eyewall) comes onshore but the centre of the storm may stay offshore.

 

 Favourable conditions for tropical storms

  • Warm waters above 27 degrees celcius.

  • Instability and mid-level moisture.

  • Coriolis force.

  • Low level disturbance.

  • Weak vertical wind shear.