Climate change impacts on size and spread of hurricanes

Posted Mar 8, 2020 by Tim Sandle
Climate change can impact on extreme weather, especially violently strong winds. New research finds that climate change impacted Hurricane Florence's precipitation and size, based on computer modelling.
The study suggests that climate change will increase the amount of rain produced by tropical storms ...
The study suggests that climate change will increase the amount of rain produced by tropical storms and hurricanes
Helene Valenzuela, AFP/File
Research dating back twenty years ago predicted that climate change is affecting temperature and precipitation patterns, plus oceanic and atmospheric circulation, together with an increasing rate of rising sea levels, resulting in an increase with the timing, and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms.
A further indication of the connection to the changing climate is the fact that the intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (that is, Category 4 and 5 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s. A Category 5 hurricane is the most intense class of Western-hemisphere cyclone.
New research , looking specifically at Hurricane Florence. This hurricane was a powerful and long-lived originating Cape Verde hurricane that caused catastrophic damage in the Carolinas (the U.S. states of North Carolina and South Carolina) in September 2018.
The research used a forecast attribution framework which allowed the researchers to investigate the effect of climate change on individual storm events days in advance. Back in 2018, the research team successfully deployed a computer model prior to the landfall of Hurricane Florence and made accurate predictions as to how the storm would behave, based on inputting climate change data.
An important finding was that Hurricane Florence ended up being some nine kilometers larger in terms of its average maximum diameter, due to climate change (that is compared to a similar hurricane that may have occurred during the 1980s).
The following video provides more information about the model and its predictive power in relation to weather patterns:
Now having examined the collected data and assessed how the model performs, the researchers have created a new computational tool to help assess the impact of extreme weather patterns. This is a model that will require further updating as the impact of global human-made climate change continues, and as each event occurs the predictive abilities of the model should become more accurate.
The new weather tracking model is presented in the journal Science Advances, in a paper titled “Forecasted attribution of the human influence on Hurricane Florence.”