The Increase In Hurricanes In The Atlantic Was Associated With Long-term Climate Fluctuations
Climate scientists have found that the sharp increase in the number of hurricanes off the coast of the United States in the last three decades is not due to global warming but to long-term climate fluctuations that temporarily made the Atlantic calm in the 1960s and 1980s. The scientists' conclusions are available in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
In recent years, various weather phenomena have been increasingly occurring – floods, droughts, heatwaves, and hurricanes. Scientists suggest that this may be due to global warming. But it is impossible to say this for sure since there are no complete statistics of such phenomena in recent centuries.
Gabriel Vecchi from Princeton University and his colleagues tried to solve this problem. They studied in detail the data of the National Hurricane Observation Center for the period between 1851 and 2019. Climatologists compared these data with how the Earth's climate was changing at that time. Thanks to this, they calculated the typical frequency of hurricanes in the Atlantic, their strength, and duration.
Over the past 150 years, the Atlantic region has experienced several fairly long episodes of sharp strengthening and weakening of storms, each of which lasted about 30-35 years. In particular, between 1900 and 1930, as well as in the 1960s and 1980s, hurricanes appeared relatively rarely.
However, at the end of the XIX century and in the middle of the last century, hurricanes occurred about as often as they do now. This suggests that the current increase in hurricane activity in the Atlantic is mainly due to long-term climatic fluctuations, and not to an increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and an increase in average water and air temperatures.
Scientists hope that further observations of hurricanes will help to understand how global warming affects the frequency and typical strength of hurricanes in the Atlantic. These data, in turn, will allow climatologists to understand when human-induced climate changes began to affect the origin and disappearance of ocean storms, Vecchi and his colleagues summed up.