Honestly? The Link Between Climate Change and Hurricanes Is Complicated – The Atlantic

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Climate Change

Hurricane Ian is one of the most destructive hurricanes ever to hit Florida. A day after the storm made landfall, hundreds of people have been rescued and, as of this morning, millions were without power. President Joe Biden has indicated that early reports suggest “substantial loss of life,” but no firm numbers have been confirmed. With such a catastrophic storm coming after the string of disasters this summer, some commentators have tried to link Hurricane Ian to climate change.But while climate change is clearly fueling some disasters, such as heat waves and wildfires, it has a more complicated effect on hurricanes. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations–led panel of hundreds of climate scientists from around the world, has said that it’s an “established fact” that industrial carbon pollution has led to an increase in “frequency” or “intensity” of extreme weather. But the report uses more circumspect language such as “likely” to talk about tropical cyclones. (Tropical cyclones are only called hurricanes when they’re above a certain wind speed and in the Atlantic or North Pacific Ocean.)Climate change is changing hurricanes in a few ways. “First of all, you can have more intense hurricanes in a warmer climate. That finding goes back well over 30 years now,” Kerry Emanuel, an MIT meteorologist and an expert on how climate change affects hurricanes, told me. “For that reason we expect to see more of the highest-category storms—the Cat 3s, Cat 4s, Cat 5s, more of the Ian-style storms.”Read: How Hurricane Irma is sucking Florida’s beaches dryIn effect, climate change raises the speed limit on storms, he sa …

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