Saturday, December 03, 2016

Global Warming May Send More Hurricanes to Northeast U.S.

New research says storm tracks are shifting northward, making devastating catastrophes like Sandy and Irene even more common.

The major cities of the U.S. Northeast may have to bear the brunt of more hurricanes like Superstorm Sandy, which devastated New York and New Jersey. (Credit: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
From a Central American cave comes research that holds a dire warning for the Northeastern U.S.:  global warming may be sending more hurricanes your way.

New research shows a long-term northward shift of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.  By studying rainfall history derived from a stalagmite in a cave in Belize, scientists concluded that storms that once would have crashed ashore in Central America, the Gulf Coast or Florida are curving northward, a trend that puts major cities in the Northeast U.S. in the path of destructive storms.

Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011 are examples of the types of damage in store for the region more often, as increasing greenhouse gas levels affect the major air currents that steer tropical storms.  A team of climate scientists reported this conclusion recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

"It's important to try and protect vulnerable areas and the financial centers in the Northeast from the impacts of similar storms which could occur more often in the future," said author Lisa Baldini, an American climate researcher at Durham University in England.

The chemical signature of rainfall derived from the stalagmite helped show the shift was mainly caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions since the late 19th century.  If the buildup of heat-trapping pollution continues, it could result in more frequent and powerful storms for the region, she said.
"I think the basic conclusion is in agreement with our research showing that the climate system is expanding toward the poles," said Yang Hu, of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, who has studied how shifts in key ocean currents are affecting storm tracks off the coasts of Africa, Asia and North America.  He said the new findings also support the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change global assessment, which suggests that tropical storm tracks will shift northward.

How many storms will form and whether they maintain strength near the Northeast coast is a different question, he said, because one of his recent studies suggests that cooling of the North Atlantic from melting Arctic ice could reduce the frequency of storms in that region.

Read more at Global Warming May Send More Hurricanes to Northeast U.S.

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