Tropical cyclones are basically hurricanes by another name. Over the past 40 years, the global average number of tropical cyclones per year has stayed at 86, but global warming has been influencing where these deadly storms are happening. According to new study published May 4, 2020 in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the number of tropical cyclones has been rising since 1980 in the North Atlantic and Central Pacific, while storms have been declining in the Western Pacific and in the South Indian Ocean.
Dr Hamish Ramsay, a senior research scientist at CSIRO who studies cyclones, said: “This study confirms what the climate models have been predicting for some time – that the proportion of the most intense storms will increase as the climate warms.”
While climate scientists have long-predicted that global heating would deliver stronger cyclones, a trend that was statistically significant has been challenging to identify in part due to the natural swings in the world’s climate masking changes.
Meanwhile, according to Simon Wang, Professor of Climate, Utah State University, last year set several new records for Indian Ocean cyclones. “Was this an outlier year or a year that portends things to come? We can’t yet know. But we do know that the Indian Ocean is warming, and we know that warm ocean water is the first, and perhaps the key, ingredient for the formation of tropical cyclones, so the system is primed for more storms.”
As per the IMD’s classification, “Super Cyclone” is the highest category of tropical storms, beginning with “Depression” and going to “Deep Depression”, “Severe Cyclone”, “Very Severe Cyclone” and “Extremely Severe Cyclone”. — TNS