Tropical cyclones and climate change

Last updated
Hurricane Katrina (August 28, 2005), nearing the Gulf Coast. NOAA-Hurricane-Katrina-Aug28-05-2145UTC.jpg
Hurricane Katrina (August 28, 2005), nearing the Gulf Coast.

Tropical cyclones and climate change concerns how tropical cyclones have changed (in number, intensity, track or otherwise), and are expected to further change, under global warming. The topic receives considerable attention from climate scientists who study the connections between storms and climate, and notably since 2005 makes news during active storm seasons.

Tropical cyclone Is a rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Global warming rise in the average temperature of the Earths climate system and its related effects

Global warming is a long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system, an aspect of climate change shown by temperature measurements and by multiple effects of the warming. The term commonly refers to the mainly human-caused observed warming since pre-industrial times and its projected continuation, though there were also much earlier periods of global warming. In the modern context the terms global warming and climate change are commonly used interchangeably, but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes to precipitation and impacts that differ by region. Many of the observed warming changes since the 1950s are unprecedented in the instrumental temperature record, and in historical and paleoclimate proxy records of climate change over thousands to millions of years.


A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean. [1]

Atlantic hurricane tropical cyclone that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean

An Atlantic hurricane or tropical storm is a tropical cyclone that forms in the Atlantic Ocean, usually between the months of June and November. A hurricane differs from a cyclone or typhoon only on the basis of location. A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean.

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.


Annual (thin lines) and five-year lowess smooth (thick lines) for the temperature anomalies averaged over the Earth's land area and sea surface temperature anomalies (blue line) averaged over the part of the ocean that is free of ice at all times (open ocean). Annual Mean Temperature Change for Land and for Ocean NASA GISTEMP 2017 October.png
Annual (thin lines) and five-year lowess smooth (thick lines) for the temperature anomalies averaged over the Earth’s land area and sea surface temperature anomalies (blue line) averaged over the part of the ocean that is free of ice at all times (open ocean).
Global Heat Content (0-700 meters) layer. Heat content55-07.png
Global Heat Content (0–700 meters) layer.
North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity according to the Power Dissipation Index, 1949-2015. Sea surface temperature is measured in different units, but the values have been plotted alongside the PDI to show how they compare. The lines have been smoothed using a five-year weighted average, plotted at the middle year. The most recent average (2011-2015) is plotted at 2013. North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity 1949-2015 Power Dissipation Index PDI NOAA EPA.png
North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity according to the Power Dissipation Index, 1949–2015. Sea surface temperature is measured in different units, but the values have been plotted alongside the PDI to show how they compare. The lines have been smoothed using a five-year weighted average, plotted at the middle year. The most recent average (2011–2015) is plotted at 2013.
North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity according to the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index, 1950-2015. For a global ACE graph visit this link. North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity According to the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index 1950-2015.png
North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity according to the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index, 1950–2015. For a global ACE graph visit this link.
Three simultaneous hurricanes active on September 8, 2017 - with Katia (left), Irma (center), and Jose (right). All three were threatening land at the time. Katia, Irma, Jose 2017-09-08 1745Z-1935Z.jpg
Three simultaneous hurricanes active on September 8, 2017 – with Katia (left), Irma (center), and Jose (right). All three were threatening land at the time.
Most intense Atlantic hurricanes
1 Wilma 2005 88226.05
2 Gilbert 1988 88826.23
3 "Labor Day" 1935 89226.34
4 Rita 2005 89526.43
5 Allen 1980 89926.55
6 Camille 1969 90026.58
7 Katrina 2005 90226.64
8 Mitch 1998 90526.73
Dean 2007
10 Maria 2017 90826.81
Source: HURDAT [2]

A 2010 review of related sciences found substantial uptake in the frequency of the most intense tropical cyclones, and increases in rainfall rates within 100 km of the storm centre of up to 20%. [3]

A tropical cyclone's rainfall is primarily controlled by its actual environmental sea surface temperature (SST) - relative to the tropical mean SST, called the relative sea surface temperature. The relative SST has also been identified to more precise explain variations in Atlantic hurricane frequency, than absolute SST and tropical convection. The relative SST is defined as the SST in the TC environment minus the tropical (30°S-30°N) mean SST. Rainfall will expand outwards as the relative SST increases, associated with an expansion of a storm wind field. The largest tropical cyclones are observed in the western North Pacific tropics, where the largest values of relative SST and mid-tropospheric relative humidity are located. Flooding by TCs with global warming is projected primarily by increases in rainfall rate, rather than area extent. [4]

Sea surface temperature Water temperature close to the oceans surface

Sea surface temperature (SST) is the water temperature close to the ocean's surface. The exact meaning of surface varies according to the measurement method used, but it is between 1 millimetre (0.04 in) and 20 metres (70 ft) below the sea surface. Air masses in the Earth's atmosphere are highly modified by sea surface temperatures within a short distance of the shore. Localized areas of heavy snow can form in bands downwind of warm water bodies within an otherwise cold air mass. Warm sea surface temperatures are known to be a cause of tropical cyclogenesis over the Earth's oceans. Tropical cyclones can also cause a cool wake, due to turbulent mixing of the upper 30 metres (100 ft) of the ocean. SST changes diurnally, like the air above it, but to a lesser degree. There is less SST variation on breezy days than on calm days. In addition, ocean currents such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), can effect SST's on multi-decadal time scales, a major impact results from the global thermohaline circulation, which affects average SST significantly throughout most of the world's oceans.

Convection movement of groups of molecules within fluids such as liquids or gases, and within rheids; takes place through advection, diffusion or both

Convection is the heat transfer due to the bulk movement of molecules within fluids such as gases and liquids, including molten rock (rheid). Convection includes sub-mechanisms of advection, and diffusion.

Relative humidity

Relative humidity (RH) is the ratio of the partial pressure of water vapor to the equilibrium vapor pressure of water at a given temperature. Relative humidity depends on temperature and the pressure of the system of interest. The same amount of water vapor results in higher relative humidity in cool air than warm air. A related parameter is that of dewpoint.


Based on satellite imagery, the Dvorak technique is the primary technique used to estimate globally the tropical cyclone intensity. [5] Today measurement for a named system is also done with the ACE index (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), a wind energy index – the sum of the squares of the estimated six-hour maximum sustained wind speed in knots, to assess the storm duration and intensity. The Potential Intensity (PI) of tropical cyclones can be computed from observed data, primarily derived from vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The convective available potential energy (CAPE), was computed from radiosonde stations in parts of the tropics from 1958 to 1997, but is considered to be of poor quality. The Power Dissipation Index (PDI) represents the total power dissipation for the North Atlantic and western North Pacific, and is strongly correlated with tropical SSTs. [6] Various tropical cyclone scales exist to classify a system.

Dvorak technique

The Dvorak technique is a widely used system to estimate tropical cyclone intensity based solely on visible and infrared satellite images. Within the Dvorak satellite strength estimate for tropical cyclones, there are several visual patterns that a cyclone may take on which define the upper and lower bounds on its intensity. The primary patterns used are curved band pattern (T1.0-T4.5), shear pattern (T1.5–T3.5), central dense overcast (CDO) pattern (T2.5–T5.0), central cold cover (CCC) pattern, banding eye pattern (T4.0–T4.5), and eye pattern (T4.5–T8.0).

Tropical cyclones are unofficially ranked on one of five tropical cyclone intensity scales, according to their maximum sustained winds and which tropical cyclone basin(s) they are located in. Only a few scales of classifications are used officially by the meteorological agencies monitoring the tropical cyclones, but some alternative scales also exist, such as accumulated cyclone energy, the Power Dissipation Index, the Integrated Kinetic Energy Index, and the Hurricane Severity Index.

Historical record

Since the satellite era, which began around 1970, trends are considered to be robust enough in regards to the connection of storms and sea surface temperatures. Agreement exists that there were active storm periods in the more distant past, but the sea surface temperature related Power Dissipation Index was not as high. [6] Paleotempestology is the science of past tropical cyclone activity by means of geological proxies (flood sediment), or historical documentary records, such as shipwrecks or tree ring anomalies.

Paleotempestology The study of past tropical cyclone activity using geological proxies and historical documents

Paleotempestology is the study of past tropical cyclone activity by means of geological proxies as well as historical documentary records. The term was coined by Kerry Emanuel.

El Niño

El Niño (ENSO) shifts the region (warmer water, up and down welling at different locations, due to winds) in the Pacific and Atlantic where more storms form, resulting in nearly constant ACE values in any one basin. The El Niño event typically decreases hurricane formation in the Atlantic, and far western Pacific and Australian regions, but instead increases the odds in the central North and South Pacific and particular in the western North Pacific typhoon region. [6]

When analyzing the correlation between extremely active tropical cyclones and El Niño events in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, it was concluded by Murakami et al. that strong El Niño events during hurricane seasons are not the only responsible factors and can most likely be attributed to greenhouse gases. [7]

Public perception

The tremendous destruction caused by recent Atlantic Ocean tropical cyclones, such as Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Sandy caused a substantial upsurge in interest in the subject of climate change and hurricanes by news media and the wider public, and concerns that global climatic change may have played a significant role in those events. In 2005 and 2017, related polling of populations affected by hurricanes concluded in 2005 that 39 percent of Americans believed climate change helped to fuel the intensity of hurricanes, with 55 percent in September 2017. [8]


The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, shattering numerous records. In response articles appeared in relation to climate change and hurricanes. Time Magazine , published an article titled, "Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?". [9] Shortly after the hurricane, former Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan wrote an op-ed piece for the Globe titled, "Katrina's Real Name", declaring that the hurricane's "real name is global warming." Gelbspan went on to assert:

"Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico."

Gelbspan did not single out Katrina from other recent storms in that regard; in the article he went on to attribute other major weather events over the preceding year to global warming, including a blizzard in Los Angeles, high winds in Scandinavia, wildfires in Spain, and a drought centered in Missouri. Britain's then deputy prime minister, John Prescott, has linked Katrina with global warming, [10] and statements made shortly after the hurricane by Germany's environment minister, Jürgen Trittin, [11] indicate he believes that global warming is responsible for an increase in the frequency of destructive natural events.


Scientists pointed out that the increase of CO2 emissions contributes to warmer ocean waters and more moist air for rain. [12] Because of sea level rise it is assumed that the storm surge of Hurricane Irma and other storms will cause greater flooding to vulnerable areas. [13] [12] Data collected by NASA showed that ocean surface temperatures in the path of Irma were above 30 °C (86 °F), capable of sustaining a Category 5 hurricane. [14] Prior to affecting the U.S. mainland, Miami’s mayor Tomás Regalado noted on Hurricane Irma, "This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change." [15] A day later the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt said, " discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there’s the… place (and time) to do that, it’s not now." [16] Following Irma's landfall, Donald Trump was asked about the connection between hurricanes and climate change, and stated that "We’ve had bigger storms than this." [17] Richard Branson who was directly impacted by hurricane Irma noted, "..hurricanes are the start of things to come. Look, climate change is real. Ninety-nine per cent of scientists know it's real. The whole world knows it's real except for maybe one person in the White House." [18]

United Nations secretary general António Guterres citing the devastation from hurricanes noted in September, "The catastrophic Atlantic hurricane season has been made worse by climate change. Cutting carbon emissions must clearly be part of our response to the disaster. The rise in the surface temperature of the ocean has had an impact on weather patterns and we must do everything possible to bring it down." [19]

The Associated Press looked at the yearly average Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which accounts for wind speed and storm duration to assess hurricane power of the past 30 years and found it to be 41 percent higher than the previous 30 years. They asked several experts about their opinion, James Kossin from NOAA “There’s no question that the storms are stronger than they were 30 years ago.” Climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, “The only caveat being that the increase might be exaggerated somewhat because of undercounting early storms.” Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach noted, “What’s happening with hurricanes — the frequency, the duration, and the energy — is probably a combination of factors caused by both nature and man, a mish-mosh of everything.” [20] Kerry Emanuel who studies hurricanes, told the BBC, "The warming of the climate has increased the underlying probabilities of very heavy rain events like happened in Harvey and very high category hurricanes like Irma. It is just not sensible to say either storm was caused by climate change, but the underlying probabilities are going up." [21]


Warmer air can contain more water vapor than cooler air. Global analyses show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has in fact increased due to human-caused warming. This extra moisture is available to storm systems, resulting in heavier rainfalls. CS extreme-precip-index 13263 V9.png
Warmer air can contain more water vapor than cooler air. Global analyses show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has in fact increased due to human-caused warming. This extra moisture is available to storm systems, resulting in heavier rainfalls.

A review by Walsh et al. 2015 found good understanding of the links between climate and tropical cyclones on various timescales, with significant observed trends in the Atlantic for frequencies and intensities in the past few decades. However, these trends are still heavily studied. The authors note that the theory for maximum tropical cyclone intensity is considered well established, but with cyclone genesis still elusive. Most climate models predict fewer tropical cyclones globally, and more of the strongest storms, with increased rainfall rates. Additional sea level rise will likely increase storm surge threats. [22] A 2017 study looked at compounding effects from floods, storm surge, and terrestrial flooding (rivers), and projects an increase due to global warming. [23] [24]

Studies on increased rainfall rates are largely based on the Clausius–Clapeyron relation, which yields ≈7% increase in water vapor in the atmosphere per 1 °C warming, and the duration of storms. [25] [26] [27] Storm tracks indicate a global poleward expansion of the latitude at which the maximum intensity of tropical cyclones occur. [28] Some model based research predicts a significant increase (+90%) in the frequency of very intense (category 4 and 5) hurricanes, with average climate change projections. [27]

The National Climate Assessment from 2014 states:

The recent increases in activity are linked, in part, to higher sea surface temperatures in the region that Atlantic hurricanes form in and move through. Numerous factors have been shown to influence these local sea surface temperatures, including natural variability, human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases, and particulate pollution. Quantifying the relative contributions of natural and human-caused factors is an active focus of research. [29]

The World Meteorological Organization stated 2017 that the quantity of rainfall from Hurricane Harvey had very likely been increased by climate change. The relationship between climate change and the frequency of hurricanes (or tropical cyclones) is still unclear, and is the subject of continued research. [30] [31]

Greenhouse gases are affecting hurricane frequency and severity. Research conducted by Murakami et al. following the 2015 hurricane season in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean where a record number of tropical cyclones and three simultaneous category-4 hurricanes occurred, concludes that greenhouse gas forcing enhances subtropical Pacific warming which they project will increase the frequency of extremely active tropical cyclones in this area. [7]


P.J. Webster and others published in 2005 an article in Science examining the "changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity" over the past 35 years, the period when satellite data has been available. Their main finding was although the number of cyclones decreased throughout the planet excluding the north Atlantic Ocean, there was a great increase in the number and proportion of very strong cyclones. [32]

According to 2006 studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "the strongest hurricanes in the present climate may be upstaged by even more intense hurricanes over the next century as the Earth's climate is warmed by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere". [33]

The 2007 IPCC report noted many observed changes in the climate, including atmospheric composition, global average temperatures, ocean conditions, and others. The report concluded the observed increase in tropical cyclone intensity is larger than climate models predict. In addition, the report considered that it is likely that storm intensity will continue to increase through the 21st century, and declared it more likely than not that there has been some human contribution to the increases in tropical cyclone intensity. [34] The report also noted, "While attention has often been focussed simply on the frequency or number of storms, the intensity, size and duration likely matter more." [6]

Studies published since 2008, by Kerry Emanuel from MIT, indicate that global warming is likely to increase the intensity but decrease the frequency of hurricane and cyclone activity. [35] In an article in Nature , Kerry Emanuel stated that potential hurricane destructiveness, a measure combining hurricane strength, duration, and frequency, "is highly correlated with tropical sea surface temperature, reflecting well-documented climate signals, including multidecadal oscillations in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and global warming". Emanuel predicted "a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the twenty-first century". [36]

Research reported in the September 3, 2008 issue of Nature found that the strongest tropical cyclones are getting stronger, in particular over the North Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Wind speeds for the strongest tropical storms increased from an average of 225 km/h (140 mph) in 1981 to 251 km/h (156 mph) in 2006, while the ocean temperature, averaged globally over all the regions where tropical cyclones form, increased from 28.2 °C (82.8 °F) to 28.5 °C (83.3 °F) during this period. [37] [38]


A 2011 study linked increased activity of intense hurricanes in the North Atlantic with a northward shift and amplification of convective activities from the African easterly waves (AEWs). [39] A 2014 study investigated the response of AEWs to high emissions scenarios, and found increases in regional temperature gradients, convergence and uplift along the Intertropical Front of Africa, resulting in strengthening of the African easterly waves, affecting the climate over West Africa and the larger Atlantic basin. [40]

Studies conducted in 2008 and 2016 looked at the duration of The Atlantic hurricane season, and found it may be getting longer, particular south of 30°N and east of 75°W, or the tendency toward more early- and late-season storms, correlated to warming sea surface temperatures. However, uncertainty is still high, and one study found no trend, another mixed results. [41]


Research based on records from Japan and Hawaii indicate that typhoons in the north-west Pacific intensified by 12–15% on average since 1977. The observed strongest typhoons doubled, or tripled in some regions, the intensity of particular landfalling systems is most pronounced. This uptick in storm intensity affects coastal populations in China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, and has been attributed to warming ocean waters. The authors noted that it is not yet clear to what extent global warming caused the increased water temperatures, but observations are consistent with what the IPCC projects for warming of sea surface temperatures. [42]

In July 2018 Japan experienced a natural disaster: heavy floods and landslides, who killed more than 200 people, make 2 million to flee. This was the consequence of unprecedented heavy rain and the typhoon Prapiroon. Scientist suggests, that climate change is probably one of the main cause for the disaster. [43] This is in line with government predictions for the impact of climate change on Japan. A 2012 report found that global warming could increase the risk of flooding and landslide disasters due to heavy rain. [44]

Policy response

Given the scientific consensus that tropical cyclones have been strengthening as a response to climate change, there have been numerous recommended in peer-reviewed journal articles on how best to respond. There has been grave concern that in the immediate aftermath of a tropical cyclone, the focus on applying resources towards immediate relief to those affected has and will continue to divert attention from more long-term solutions. This is further exacerbated in lower-income communities and countries as they suffer most from the consequences of tropical cyclones. [45] Despite this, in order to maintain long term stability and resilience, the implementation of long term goals cannot be understated. [45]

Policymakers have recommended certain proposed initiatives by the scientific and economic communities, and certain nations and supranational communities have already taken the initiative to either implement these or have created a plan of action to implement them in the future. [45] One active policy decision that would assist in mitigating risks of flooding would be reforestation of inland areas in order to strengthen the soil of the communities and reduce coastal inundation. [45] It is also recommended that local schools, churches, and other local community infrastructure be permanently equipped to become cyclone shelters at a moment's notice such that residents are not required to remain in their own housing for longer than absolutely necessary. [45]

Specific national and supranational decisions have already been made and are being implemented in this regard. The Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP) has been instituted to strengthen and better coordinate disaster response and climate change adaptation among nations and communities in the region. Specific nations such as Tonga and the Cook Islands in the Southern Pacific under this regime have developed a Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (JNAP) to coordinate and execute responses to the rising risk for climate change. [45] [46] These countries have identified the most vulnerable areas of their nations, generated national and supranational policies to be implemented, and provided specific goals and timelines to achieve these goals. [46] These actions to be implemented include reforestation, building of levees and dams, creation of early warning systems, reinforcing existing communication infrastructure, finding new sources of fresh water, promoting and subsidizing the proliferation renewable energy, improving irrigation techniques to promote sustainable agriculture, increase public education efforts on sustainable measures, and lobbying internationally for the increased use of renewable energy sources. [46]

United States

In the United States, there have been several concrete initiatives taken to better prepare for the strengthening of hurricanes in the foreseeable future.

North Carolina

North Carolina has been focusing on environmental issues since the 1970s when rising environmental awareness pushed the state to take advantage of the federal funds made available to states to deal with potential natural disasters in the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. In the interim, North Carolina has identified nine coastal areas which are most likely to suffer most in the event of hurricane activity. The state required that all municipalities and counties in these areas to prepare comprehensive action plans to be implemented and carried out in the event of a major natural disaster. The localities are further required to periodically and constantly update these action plans to keep them up to date. [47] The state requires these plans to include both long term goals to be achieved such as reforestation, building of levees, finding new fresh water sources, etc. as well as short term goals such as preparing local emergency shelters, increasing funding towards research in how best to mitigate the harm of hurricanes, stocking of emergency supplies, etc. [47]

South Carolina

In South Carolina, the state has been actively monitoring and taking an interest in hurricane aftermath management since 1977 when it passed its first coastal management act. The act was administered by the Coastal Council in the state's executive branch until 1993 when it was incorporated into the Department of Health and Environmental Control. From its inception, the South Carolina model has been management of local flora and fauna habitats to strengthen the coastal areas' resilience to flooding and storm surge from hurricanes. In 1988, the state significantly strengthened its coastal laws to deal with the increasing coastal erosion and oceanfront development. These actions came one year before the landfall of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which devastated the state, and since then South Carolina has continued to focus on increased preparedness for ensuing hurricanes. [47] The Coastal Council's authority was amended by the legislature to provide and further enforce additional guidelines to shoreline development, which the act required be done only as a last resort. The state has also mandated planning and zoning provisions for local communities which are vulnerable to hurricane impacts, and it has required relocation of certain residents in the coastal areas to inland part of the states to prevent further loss or damage to human life. [47]

Hurricane Hugo near peak intensity on September 15, 1989 Hugo September 15 1989 1631Z.png
Hurricane Hugo near peak intensity on September 15, 1989


The state of Maine has a long history of coastal management in all forms dating back to the 1960s, which was then eventually codified into written law in 1978 after the "Blizzard of 1978". [47] The state passed various laws to mandate the management and preparation of state authorities to prepare for further natural disasters, including the potential landfalls of future hurricanes. The legislature allocated funds for several state executive agencies to take an active role in the regulation of coastal development and residence. [47] Maine also utilized already allocated federal funds to better manage its coastal areas. These agencies and funds were utilized to take several precautionary measures such as building sand dunes to serve as temporary levees, construction of seawalls to fortify the coast against storm surges and flooding, reforestation of the state to strengthen the soil, and the banning of construction in certain extremely flood-prone areas. [47]

See also

Related Research Articles

Cyclone large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low pressure

In meteorology, a cyclone is a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale. Mesocyclones, tornadoes and dust devils lie within smaller mesoscale. Upper level cyclones can exist without the presence of a surface low, and can pinch off from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones have also been seen on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone's track is guided over the course of its 2 to 6 day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

La Niña A coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño

La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation climate pattern. The name La Niña originates from Spanish, meaning "the little girl", analogous to El Niño meaning "the little boy". It has also in the past been called anti-El Niño, and El Viejo. During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3 to 5°C. An appearance of La Niña persists for at least five months. It has extensive effects on the weather across the globe, particularly in North America, even affecting the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons.

Subtropical cyclone

A subtropical cyclone is a weather system that has some characteristics of a tropical and an extratropical cyclone.

Climatology The scientific study of climate, defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time

Climatology or climate science is the scientific study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time. This modern field of study is regarded as a branch of the atmospheric sciences and a subfield of physical geography, which is one of the Earth sciences. Climatology now includes aspects of oceanography and biogeochemistry. Basic knowledge of climate can be used within shorter term weather forecasting using analog techniques such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) which is also known as the Arctic oscillation (AO), the Northern Pacific (NP) Index, the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). Climate models are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate. Weather is known as the condition of the atmosphere over a period of time, while climate has to do with the atmospheric condition over an extended to indefinite period of time.

The Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS), formerly the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale (SSHS), classifies hurricanes – Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms – into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds.

This is a list of meteorology topics. The terms relate to meteorology, the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting.

Kerry Emanuel American meteorologist

Kerry Andrew Emanuel is an American professor of meteorology currently working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. In particular he has specialized in atmospheric convection and the mechanisms acting to intensify hurricanes. He was named one of the Time 100 influential people of 2006. In 2007, he was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Loop Current A warm ocean current that flows northward between Cuba and the Yucatán Peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico, loops east and south and exits to the east through the Florida Straits to join the Gulf Stream

A parent to the Florida Current, the Loop Current is a warm ocean current that flows northward between Cuba and the Yucatán Peninsula, moves north into the Gulf of Mexico, loops east and south before exiting to the east through the Florida Straits and joining the Gulf Stream. The Loop Current is an extension of the western boundary current of the North Atlantic subtropical gyre. Serving as the dominant circulation feature in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Loop Currents transports between 23 and 27 sverdrups and reaches maximum flow speeds of from 1.5 to 1.8 meters/second.

Tropical cyclogenesis

Tropical cyclogenesis is the development and strengthening of a tropical cyclone in the atmosphere. The mechanisms through which tropical cyclogenesis occurs are distinctly different from those through which temperate cyclogenesis occurs. Tropical cyclogenesis involves the development of a warm-core cyclone, due to significant convection in a favorable atmospheric environment.

Atlantic multidecadal oscillation

The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a climate cycle that affects the sea surface temperature (SST) of the North Atlantic Ocean based on different modes on multidecadal timescales. While there is some support for this mode in models and in historical observations, controversy exists with regard to its amplitude, and in particular, the attribution of sea surface temperature change to natural or anthropogenic causes, especially in tropical Atlantic areas important for hurricane development. The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation is also connected with shifts in hurricane activity, rainfall patterns and intensity, and changes in fish populations.

Effects of tropical cyclones effect of cyclone

The main effects of tropical cyclones include heavy rain, strong wind, large storm surges near landfall, and tornadoes. The destruction from a tropical cyclone, such as a hurricane or tropical storm, depends mainly on its intensity, its size, and its location. Tropical cyclones act to remove forest canopy as well as change the landscape near coastal areas, by moving and reshaping sand dunes and causing extensive erosion along the coast. Even well inland, heavy rainfall can lead to mudslides and landslides in mountainous areas. Their effects can be sensed over time by studying the concentration of the Oxygen-18 isotope within caves within the vicinity of cyclones' paths.

Tropical cyclone forecasting is the science of forecasting where a tropical cyclone's center, and its effects, are expected to be at some point in the future. There are several elements to tropical cyclone forecasting: track forecasting, intensity forecasting, rainfall forecasting, storm surge, tornado, and seasonal forecasting. While skill is increasing in regard to track forecasting, intensity forecasting skill remains nearly unchanged over the past several years. Seasonal forecasting began in the 1980s in the Atlantic basin and has spread into other basins in the years since.

Natural disasters in India

Natural disasters in India, many of them related to the climate of India, cause massive losses of life and property. Droughts, flash floods, cyclones, avalanches, landslides brought by torrential rains, and snowstorms pose the greatest threats. A natural disaster might be caused by earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruption, landslides, hurricanes etc. In order to be classified as a disaster it will have profound environmental effect and/or human loss and frequently incurs financial loss. Other dangers include frequent summer dust storms, which usually track from north to south; they cause extensive property damage in North India and deposit large amounts of dust from arid regions. Hail is also common in parts of India, causing severe damage to standing crops such as rice and wheat and many more crops.

Hurricane Alley

Hurricane Alley is an area of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from the west coast of northern Africa to the east coast of Central America and Gulf Coast of the Southern United States. Many hurricanes form within this area. The sea surface temperature of the Atlantic in Hurricane Alley has grown slightly warmer over the past decades. A particularly warm summer in 2005 led climate scientists to begin studying whether this trend would lead to an increase in hurricane activity. See Effects of Climate Change below.

This article is about the physical impacts of climate change. For some of these physical impacts, their effect on social and economic systems are also described.

The Tropical Atlantic SST Dipole refers to a cross-equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) pattern that appears dominant on decadal timescales. It has a period of about 12 years, with the SST anomalies manifesting their most pronounced features around 10–15 degrees of latitude off of the Equator. The term Tropical Atlantic SST dipole is only one of the characteristic names used to refer to this mode of variability; other definitions include the interhemispheric SST gradient or the Meridional Atlantic mode. This decadal-scale SST pattern constitutes one of the key features of SST variability in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean, with another one being the Atlantic Equatorial Mode or Atlantic Niño, which occurs in the zonal (east-west) direction at interannual timescales, with sea surface temperature and heat content anomalies being observed in the eastern equatorial basin. Its importance in climate dynamics and decadal-scale climate prediction is evident when investigating its impact on adjacent continental regions such as the Northeast Brazil, the Sahel as well as its influence on North Atlantic cyclogenesis.

Climate change in the Caribbean

Climate change could pose disadvantageous risks to the islands in the Caribbean. The environmental changes expected to affect the Caribbean are a rise in sea level, stronger hurricanes, longer dry seasons and shorter wet seasons. As a result, climate change is expected to lead to changes in the economy, environment and population of the Caribbean.


  1. "What is the difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon?". OCEAN FACTS. National Ocean Service . Retrieved 2016-12-24.
  2. "Atlantic hurricane best track (HURDAT version 2)". Hurricane Research Division (Database). National Hurricane Center. May 1, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  3. Knutson; et al. (2010). "Tropical cyclones and climate change". Nature Geoscience. 3 (3): 157–163. Bibcode:2010NatGe...3..157K. doi:10.1038/ngeo779. hdl:1721.1/62558.
  4. Yanluan Lin; Ming Zhao; Minghua Zhang (2015). "Tropical cyclone rainfall area controlled by relative sea surface temperature". Nature Communications. 6: 6591. Bibcode:2015NatCo...6E6591L. doi:10.1038/ncomms7591. PMC   4382685 . PMID   25761457.
  5. Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project. "Data Quality" . Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis". IPCC. 2007.
  7. 1 2 Murakami, H., Vecchi, G., Delworth, T., Wittenberg, A., Underwood, S., Gudgel, R., Yang, X., Jia, L., Zeng, F., Paffendorf, K. & Zhang, W. (2017). "Dominant Role of Subtropical Pacific Warming in Extreme Eastern Pacific Hurricane Seasons: 2015 and the Future", JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 243–264.
  8. "Majority of Americans now say climate change makes hurricanes more intense". The Washington Post. 2017.
  9. Jeffrey Kluger, Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?, Time Magazine , Monday, August 29, 2005.
  10. Prescott links global warming to Katrina, Guardian Unlimited.
  11. German Minister Links Katrina to Global Warming, Bush Policies, CNS news, 08/31/2005.
  12. 1 2 "Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real". The Washington Post. September 7, 2017.
  13. "Why Hurricane Irma Could Hurt, a Lot: Much Lies in Harm's Way". The New York Times. September 7, 2017.
  14. "Hot water ahead for Hurricane Irma". NASA Global Climate Change. September 7, 2017.
  15. "Miami's mayor on Hurricane Irma: 'If this isn't climate change, I don't know what is'". Miami Herald. September 8, 2017.
  16. "Scott Pruitt says it's not the time to talk climate change. For him, it never is". The Washington Post. September 9, 2017.
  17. "Trump weighs in on climate change: Hey, there have been big hurricanes before". The Washington Post. September 14, 2017.
  18. "Richard Branson criticises Donald Trump after hurricanes: 'Whole world knows climate change is real'". The Independent. September 20, 2017.
  19. "UN secretary general links hurricane devastation to climate change". Climate Home. September 19, 2017.
  20. "Hurricane period ravaging Atlantic is the most active on record". Global News. October 5, 2017.
  21. "Hurricanes: A perfect storm of chance and climate change?". BBC. September 21, 2017.
  22. Walsh; et al. (2015). "Tropical cyclones and climate change". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 7: 65–89. doi:10.1002/wcc.371.
  23. "Hurricane Harvey shows how we underestimate flooding risks in coastal cities, scientists say". The Washington Post. August 29, 2017.
  24. Matthew, Richard A.; Sanders, Brett F.; Aghakouchak, Amir; Salvadori, Gianfausto; Moftakhari, Hamed R. (2017). "Compounding effects of sea level rise and fluvial flooding". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (37): 9785–9790. doi:10.1073/pnas.1620325114. PMC   5603992 . PMID   28847932.
  25. Daniel B. Wright; Thomas R. Knutson; James A. Smith (2015). "Regional climate model projections of rainfall from U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones". Climate Dynamics. 45 (11–12): 3365–3379. Bibcode:2015ClDy...45.3365W. doi:10.1007/s00382-015-2544-y.
  26. Thomas R. Knutson; Joseph J. Sirutis; Ming Zhao (2015). "Global Projections of Intense Tropical Cyclone Activity for the Late Twenty-First Century from Dynamical Downscaling of CMIP5/RCP4.5 Scenarios". Journal of Climate. 28 (18): 7203–7224. Bibcode:2015JCli...28.7203K. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0129.1.
  27. 1 2 Knutson; et al. (2013). "Dynamical Downscaling Projections of Late 21st Century Atlantic Hurricane Activity: CMIP3 and CMIP5 Model-based Scenarios". Journal of Climate. 26 (17): 6591–6617. Bibcode:2013JCli...26.6591K. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00539.1.
  28. James P. Kossin; Kerry A. Emanuel; Gabriel A. Vecchi (2014). "The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity". Nature. 509 (7500): 349–352. Bibcode:2014Natur.509..349K. doi:10.1038/nature13278. hdl:1721.1/91576. PMID   24828193.
  29. "Extreme Weather". National Climate Assessment.
  30. Tom Miles (August 29, 2017). "Storm Harvey's rainfall likely linked to climate change: U.N." Reuters. Reuters U.K. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  31. "Global Warming and Atlantic Hurricanes". NOAA. 2017.
  32. Webster, P. J.; Holland G.J.; Curry J.A.; Chang H.R. (2005). "Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment". Science . 309 (5742): 1844–1846. Bibcode:2005Sci...309.1844W. doi:10.1126/science.1116448. PMID   16166514.
  33. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. "Global Warming and Hurricanes". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on March 15, 2005. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  34. Alley, Richard; et al. (2007). "Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change". United Nations. Retrieved February 23, 2007.
  35. Emanuel, Kerry (2008). "The Hurricane-Climate Connection" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society . 89 (5): ES10–ES20. Bibcode:2008BAMS...89S..10E. doi:10.1175/BAMS-89-5-Emanuel . Retrieved 2009-01-19. The weight of available evidence suggests that multidecadal variability of hurricane season tropical Atlantic SST and Northern Hemispheric surface temperature... is controlled mostly by time-varying radiative forcing owing to solar variability, major volcanic eruptions, and anthropogenic sulfate aerosols and greenhouse gases, though the response to this forcing may be modulated by natural modes of variability.
  36. Emanuel, Kerry (2005). "Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years" (PDF). Nature . 436 (7051): 686–688. Bibcode:2005Natur.436..686E. doi:10.1038/nature03906. PMID   16056221 . Retrieved March 20, 2006.
  37. Schiermeier, Q. (2008). "Hurricanes are getting fiercer". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2008.1079.
  38. Warmer Seas Linked to Strengthening Hurricanes: Study Fuels Global Warming Debate. Newswise. September 3, 2008.
  39. Wang; Gillies (2011). "Observed Change in Sahel Rainfall, Circulations, African Easterly Waves, and Atlantic Hurricanes Since 1979". International Journal of Geophysics. 2011: 1–14. doi:10.1155/2011/259529.
  40. Christopher Bryan Skinner; Noah S. Diffenbaugh (2014). "Projected changes in African easterly wave intensity and track in response to greenhouse forcing". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 111 (19): 6882–6887. Bibcode:2014PNAS..111.6882S. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319597111. PMC   4024927 . PMID   24778244.
  41. Jeff Masters (November 1, 2017). "November Atlantic Hurricane Outlook: The Season is Not Over Yet". Wunderground.
  42. "Asian typhoons becoming more intense, study finds". The Guardian. 2016.
  43. HOPPS, KAT (12 July 2018). "Japan flooding 2018 map: Death toll rises to 200 – why so many deaths? Where did rain hit?" (Climate Change, Flooding). Express. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  44. Rosane, Olivia (9 July 2018). "Historic Floods in Japan Kill More Than 100, Force Millions to Flee" (Climate Change, Flooding). Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  45. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Thomas, Adelle; Pringle, Patrick; Pfleiderer, Peter; Schleussner, Car-Friedrich (April 14, 2017). "Topical Cyclones: Impacts, the link to Climate Change and Adaptation" (PDF). IMPACT.
  46. 1 2 3 "Prevention Web".
  47. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Moser, Susan (2005). "Impact assessments and policy responses to sea-level rise in three US states: An exploration of human-dimension uncertainties". Global Environmental Change. 15 (4): 353–369. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2005.08.002.