Study: Strength of rapidly-intensifying hurricanes jumped in parts of Atlantic

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By: Charles Roop | WCTV Pinpoint Weather
May 9, 2018

Sept. 8, 2017. The NOAA-NASA satellite GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma passing the eastern end of Cuba at about 8:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8, 2017, Photo Date: 9/8/2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was an active and potent one.

Three hurricanes - Harvey, Irma and Maria - underwent rapid intensification; the wind speeds rose by nearly 30 miles an hour in just 24 hours.

A new research paper found that in the period between 1986 and 2015, there was a statistically significant increase of magnitude of hurricanes that rapidly intensified in the central and eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean. But there was not an increase of intensity change of rapidly-intensifying hurricanes in the western Atlantic region.

The study says variables including warmer sea-surface temperatures, higher upper ocean heat content and lower wind shear helped to increase those numbers.

The authors noted the current active long-term pattern that’s been in place since the mid-1990s is likely a good reason for the shift. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) in its current positive phase has warmer water temperatures in the Atlantic. But there is also another thing that the study noted.

“[T]he role of anthropogenic climate change cannot be ruled out,” the authors noted in the paper.

Sea surface temperatures are expected to rise but, as mentioned in a previous story, wind shear is a variable that could increase as the earth warms, limiting tropical cyclone development. But the paper notes that it is difficult to isolate the role of the AMO and global warming.

“Further studies are needed to separate the influences of natural variability and climate change on the large-scale hurricane environment in the tropical Atlantic,” the authors wrote.

In the meantime, all we can do is be ready for the next storm.



 
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