Climate Change Made Recent Hurricanes Wetter. And They May Get Worse.

Live Science | 11/14/2018 | Staff
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Some of the biggest storms in recent years were fueled by climate change, which increased the amount of their drenching rainfall. Future storms could be even windier, wetter — and potentially more destructive — according to a new study.

Researchers evaluated 15 tropical cyclones (which are called hurricanes when they form in the Atlantic) from the past decade and then simulated how the storms would have performed during preindustrial times, prior to the advent of recent climate change. They also peered into possible future scenarios, modeling what the storms might look like if they took shape during the late 21st century, should Earth's climate continue to warm.

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The scientists' findings, published online today (Nov. 14) in the journal Nature, paint a sobering picture of a future marked by supercharged hurricane seasons.

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In simulations that required millions of hours of computing time, the researchers investigated the role that a warming climate could play in hurricane winds and rainfall, looking at factors such as greenhouse gas concentrations, humidity and temperature variations in the air and in ocean water. They found that hurricane rainfall increased under climate-change scenarios, with Hurricanes Katrina, Irma and Maria producing about 5 to 10 percent more rain than they might have generated under preindustrial conditions.

Wind speeds for storms in the recent past, on the other hand, would probably have been more or less the same at the time of preindustrial Earth, according to the study. However, future storms will likely become windier, with peak wind speeds rising by as much as 33 mph (53 km/h). Rainfall is also predicted to increase in hurricanes by about 25 to 30 percent, if present-day emissions continue unchecked, the scientists reported.

(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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