Why slower cyclones are bad news for us

Why slower cyclones are bad news for us

Researchers claim that as the planet's poles heat up, pressure gradients around the world are changing, reducing the winds that push on these storms.

Looking at data since 1949, a government climate scientist calculates that storms in the last few years are moving about 10 percent slower globally than they were 60 years ago.

The Atlantic Basin remains inactive and the storm now has a zero threat to life or land.

The slower a cyclone moves over the ocean, the more moisture and intensity it gathers; the slower it moves over the land, the more time it spends drenching it.

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Kossin published his findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Tropical cyclones have slowed more in the Northern Hemisphere, which is significant because that is where a majority of storms occur each year.

"The storms will stay in your neighbourhoods longer", he said.

According to Kossin's study, combining the additional water vapor available in the atmosphere from 1 degree Celsius of warming -essentially where we are now - with a 10% slowdown from tropical cyclones that he observed would double the local rainfall and flooding impacts. It points directly to the example of Hurricane Harvey, whose catastrophic rains were enabled by the storm's lingering in the Houston area for such a long period.

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Kossin said the findings were of great importance to society.

The trend has all the signs of human-caused climate change, Kossin said.

Kossin would actually agree on that point. For instance, if exceptionally slow-moving storms have grown more likely in recent years, does that mean "stalled" storms like Harvey-which seemed to get stuck in place for days-are increasing, too? "That has serious implications for inland flooding and urban infrastructure". And there are limits to each approach. "Not quite like a cork in a stream, but similar", he said.

"We're both pushing the work forward and adding additional lines of evidence", Gutmann says.

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