Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cyclones Set to Get Fiercer as World Warms

New analysis of cyclone data and computer climate modelling indicates that global warming is likely to intensify the destructive power of tropical storms.

Cyclones Set to Get Fiercer as World Warms (Image Credit: Tricycle via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Powerful tropical storms − known variously as cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes − bring death and destruction to huge swathes of the Earth’s surface. And new research suggests that they are likely to become even stronger.

Storms such as the super-typhoon Nepartak that scoured Taiwan earlier this month with winds of 150 miles per hour and then flooded parts of China, are expected to grow even fiercer as the planet warms. That trend is not clear yet, but scientists in the US say it soon will be.

Ironically, one of the main reasons why these storms will gain in power is the effort in many countries to reduce air pollution. Damaging as it is in stunting and shortening lives, the one arguable benefit of filthy air is its ability to dampen the effects of greenhouse gases (GHGs) on cyclones and their like.

Over the last century, tiny airborne particles called aerosols, which cool the climate by absorbing and reflecting sunlight, have largely cancelled out the effects of GHG emissions on tropical storm intensity, according to a new scientific review paper published in Science journal.
The authors of the Science journal report provide new calculations on the cancelling effectsof aerosols and GHGs on tropical cyclones.

“The fact that global warming’s fingerprints don’t yet jump out at us when we look at hurricanes isn’t surprising – it’s what current science tells us we should expect,” says lead author Adam Sobel, professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and School of Engineering.

“The same science tells us that those fingerprints will show up eventually in more ultra-powerful storms.”

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