Sunday, June 7, 2015

Typhoons a growing threat because of climate change

Peter Hannam in Stuff (New Zealand): A warming planet is already stoking the intensity of tropical cyclones in the north-west Pacific and their ferocity will continue to increase even with moderate climate change over this century, an international research team has found.

A study covering 850 typhoons in the region found the intensity of the damaging storms has increased by about 10 per cent since the 1970s, said Wei Mei, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-author of the study published in the journal Science Advances.

Using 20 models and a mid-range projection of carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers found the peak intensity of storms such as super Typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the Philippines in November 2013, will become even stronger and more common. Such storms will be 14 per cent stronger by 2100, equivalent to adding another category to the current top severity rating of 5, the study found.

Research on tropical cyclones – known as hurricanes in the Atlantic basin – has sought to identify whether factors contributing to more powerful events such as warmer sea surface temperatures might be countered by changes to ocean or atmospheric circulation that may hinder the storms' genesis or force. Warming in the top 75 metres of the oceans will dominate other influences, the researchers found.

"This projected increase in typhoon intensity is largely due to [sea surface temperatures] warming," the study found, adding that the findings are "at the high end" of previous projections....

Typhoon Haiyan, November 7, 2013

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