The Evidence Is Mounting That Warmer Years Mean More, Stronger Hurricanes

As the climate change increases, some researchers have suggested that warmer years will lead to more, stronger hurricanes and storm surges in the Atlantic. A new study on tide data indicates this could be true, since warmer years are associated with more, stronger storms.

The new study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, today, Oct. 15. Instead of using historical hurricane records, which are notoriously iffy, the researchers used tide gauge records from the Southeastern United States spanning back to 1923.

storm surge tide southeastern United statesThe study is based on data from monitoring stations along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, where the daily tide levels have been recorded all the way back to 1923. Rapid changes in sea level show that there has been a tropical storm. The map shows cloud cover and ocean temperatures when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. Warm colours show ocean temperatures exceeding 28° C which can strengthen hurricanes.


By examining the characteristic changes in sea level generated by tropical cyclones, the researchers, led by Aslack Grinsted of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, were able to count the number and intensity of hurricanes over the last 90 years.

They saw that during warmer years, there were almost twice as many Katrina magnitude events than there were in colder years. This data indicates there’s a link between surface temperature and hurricane activity, as has been suggested before.

storm surge increaseThe Southeastern United States has experienced an increasing number of large storm surges from tropical storms since 1923. The photo in the background shows the storm surge from Hurricane Eloise, which hit Florida in 1975.

Photo: Graph: A. Grinsted /Photo: NOAA

“We simply counted how many extreme cyclones with storm surges there were in warm years compared to cold years and we could see that there was a tendency for more cyclones in warmer years,” Grinsted said in a statement from the university. “We have calculated that extreme hurricane surges like Katrina are twice as likely in warm years than in cold years.”

SEE ALSO: When Will The Next Nightmare Hurricane Hit The US? >

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.