Climate change could drive hurricanes to more populous regions

Climate change will expand the region of tropical cyclone formation beyond the equatorial band of the planet. So says a new study led by Yale University, which also points out that millions of people will be vulnerable to these phenomena that tend to be increasingly severe.

Today, hurricanes occur mostly in the tropical regions of the planet, between the north and south of the Equator – with rare exceptions. But as global temperature increases, the trend is for this phenomenon to occur in mid-latitudes, reaching cities like New York and Tokyo.

According to the study, by the end of this century, tropical storms will erupt over a wider range than in the last three million years. By the way, in 2020, the subtropical storm Alpha hit Portugal, which has already left scientists on alert.

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The study’s lead author, Joshua Studholme, explained that the expansion of the hurricane formation zone to mid-latitudes will affect most of the world’s population, who live in this range.

hotter poles

The cold air masses from the poles usually act as a blocker for the warmest flows from the equator, where tropical storms occur. But a warmer world is also making the poles warmer, allowing these weather events to occur in mid-latitudes.

For a long time, humanity’s influence on the global climate was controversial, but more and more studies make this relationship more evident. One is the latest UN climate report, the IPCC, which also pointed out that hurricanes will be even more intense as the planet warms.

For the study, Studholme and his team used a variety of evidence to show how hurricanes will act over a wider range. “What we’ve done is make explicit the links between the physics that occur in the storms themselves and the dynamics of the atmosphere on a planetary scale,” he added.

The problem will worsen when hurricanes encounter other effects of climate change, such as more intense rainfall, as noted by former Princeton University and NOAA scientist Gan Zhan, who was not involved in the study.

Still, the authors stated that this is not a concrete prediction, as when it comes to global climate, many variables are at play. For example, if carbon emissions are drastically reduced over the next few decades, the survey results will certainly change. The research was published in the journal Nature.

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