Energy & Environment

Study: Climate change could lead to more hurricanes hitting Northeastern cities

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Climate change could lead to hurricanes expanding their reach further north into the Atlantic, potentially affecting cities such as Boston and New York, according to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Researchers wrote that warming temperatures could lead to tropical storms moving further north when they form in the Northern Hemisphere. This could mean more storms like 2021’s Hurricane Henri, which did about $550 million worth of damage and became the first tropical cyclone to touch down in Rhode Island in three decades.

Meanwhile, if the same forces push storms north in the eastern Pacific Ocean as well, they could lead to similar impacts on cities in the region such as Beijing and Tokyo, according to the researchers.

“This represents an important, under-estimated risk of climate change,” lead author Joshua Studholme, of Yale’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said in a statement. “This research predicts that the 21st century’s tropical cyclones will likely occur over a wider range of latitudes than has been the case on Earth for the last 3 million years.”

Studholme is also a contributor to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 assessment, which projected an increase in the most intense categories for hurricanes, 4 and 5.

Historically, tropical storms have warmed at lower altitudes closer to the equator, but climate change is projected to reduce the temperature difference between equatorial and polar waters.

Co-author Alexey Fedorov, a professor of oceanic and atmospheric sciences at Yale, noted that climatologists have not reached a consensus about whether that will lead to more storms overall.

“However, multiple lines of evidence indicate that we could see more tropical cyclones in mid-latitudes, even if the total frequency of tropical cyclones does not increase, which is still actively debated,” he said. “Compounded by the expected increase in average tropical cyclone intensity, this finding implies higher risks due to tropical cyclones in Earth’s warming climate.”

Tags Climate change cyclones hurricanes tropical storms
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