Cyclone intensity likely the result of climate change

April 14, 2021

The intensity of tropical cyclone activity over the past several decades is likely the result of human-induced climate change, a new study suggests.

“The intensity of tropical cyclones has increased globally in recent decades, with the proportion of Category 3 to 5 cyclones growing around 5 percent per decade since 1979,” said Gabriel Vecchi, professor of geosciences and the High Meadows Environmental Institute.

The influence of climate change on tropical storm activity has been difficult to separate from natural variability. But the researchers – by sifting through over 90 peer-reviewed articles – showed growing evidence that climate change is probably fueling these more powerful storms.

Climate projections suggest that with further warming in coming decades, a larger proportion of Category 4 and 5 tropical cyclones will occur globally with more damaging wind speeds and more extreme rainfall rates. For example, as global temperatures continue to rise, maximum wind speeds are expected to rise by 5%.

“The impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly clear as new evidence becomes available and because our impact on the climate is also growing,” said Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Professor at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences.