Unhurried hurricanes: Study says tropical cyclones slowing

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"The slower a storm goes, the more rain it's going to dump in any particular area", said study author James Kossin, a government climate scientist.

But he says there's good evidence that the warming planet could weaken the global winds that push storms around.

Kossin's work was based on details of nearly 70 years' worth of storms, but he made no attempt to determine what was causing the slowdown. He showed that from 1949 to 2016, tropical cyclones across the globe slowed their movement by 10 percent on average. To help, the Texas General Land Office partnered up with the University of Texas to conduct a survey for Texans who live in the affected areas, asking if they are still displaced and how much damage to their homes still need to be fixed.

Warmer air is able to hold more water vapor through a process called the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, which shows that the water-holding capability of air increases about 7% with each degree Celsius of warming.

Tropical cyclones have generally slowed more in the Northern Hemisphere where they are also known as hurricanes and typhoons and where more of these storms typically occur each year.

Harvey dumped 60.58 inches of rain in Nederland, Texas, from August 24 to September 1. So it isn't clear just how much of the change that Kossin found is actually attributable to human-induced climate change.

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"The storms will stay in your neighbourhoods longer", he said.

In an editorial accompanying Kossin's work, she points out that it raises several new questions. "Not quite like a cork in a stream, but similar", he said.

Gutmann and Kossin took entirely different approaches-one looking at historical data; the other using modeling to see how storms would behave under predicted warming scenarios.

But there are probably more variables at play than a warmer climate putting the brakes on tropical cyclones.

"Inland flooding, freshwater flooding, is taking over as the key mortality risk now associated with these storms", Kossin said.

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