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How Climate Change Is Creating A New Breed Of Hurricane

How Climate Change Is Creating A New Breed Of Hurricane

Climate change is warming our oceans, and that thermal energy is fueling stronger hurricanes.

How Climate Change Is Creating A New Breed Of Hurricane

Friday, August 24, 2018 - 13:15

Annie Roth, Contributor

A Category 3 hurricane is currently barrelling across the Pacific toward the Hawaiian islands. The storm, known as hurricane Lane, is expected to batter the Hawaiian islands with 120 mile-per-hour winds and enough rain to trigger flash floods and landslides. In both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, hurricanes are becoming more intense as a result of climate change. Hurricanes are fueled by warm water, which is becoming more widespread as greenhouse gasses continue to trap heat in the atmosphere. 

Both hurricane strength and average sea surface temperature have increased significantly over the last century. Although hurricanes can be influenced by wind, humidity and other factors, the majority of scientists agree that warming oceans are the primary cause of the rise in hurricane strength.

Hurricanes form when evaporating sea water transfers thermal energy from the ocean’s surface to the upper atmosphere. The upward movement of warm, moist air creates a pressure
vacuum that fuels strong circular winds. When that warm air reaches the atmosphere it condenses, forming storm clouds.

As climate change increases global sea surface temperatures, the strength of seasonal hurricanes is expected to increase. This means more catastrophic hurricanes may soon be on the 
horizon.

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Portrait of Annie Roth

Annie Roth is a freelance journalist based in Santa Cruz, California. She uses journalism to put a spotlight on marginalized conservation issues. Follow her on Twitter @AnnieRoth_AtSea.