A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters.
Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, the central North Pacific Ocean.
“Hurricane Season” begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, although hurricanes can, and have, occurred outside of this time frame. These massive storm systems occur, on average, 12 times a year, and often leave a trail of destruction in their wake.
New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown that in almost every region of the world where hurricanes form, their maximum sustained winds are getting stronger.
A warming planet may be fuelling the increase in hurricane strength.
“Through modelling and our understanding of atmospheric physics, the study agrees with what we would expect to see in a warming climate like ours,” says James Kossin, a NOAA scientist based at UW-Madison and lead author of the paper, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Kossin has demonstrated that hurricanes are moving more slowly across land due to changes in Earth’s climate. This has resulted in greater flood risks as storms hover over cities and other areas, often for extended periods of time.
“Our results show that these storms have become stronger on global and regional levels, which is consistent with expectations of how hurricanes respond to a warming world,” says Kossin.