Unhurried hurricanes: Study says tropical cyclones slowing worldwide

Hurricanes Are Lingering Longer. That Makes Them More Dangerous.

"Nothing good comes out of a slowing storm", says James Kossin, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Center for Weather and Climate in Madison, Wisconsin, and author of the first paper, published today in the journal Nature. Adding last year's storms would have made the slowdown a bit more prominent, he said.

Worldwide cyclones have become sluggish, slowing down 10 per cent over the past 70 years.

And when it came to the storms' travel over land, the slowdown in some cases was even more pronounced than it was over the oceans or in general.

Tropical cyclones have generally slowed more in the Northern Hemisphere where they are also known as hurricanes and typhoons and where more of these storms typically occur each year.

Warmer air is able to hold more water vapor through a process called the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, which shows that the water-holding capability of air increases about 7% with each degree Celsius of warming.

If Harvey is any indication of what hurricanes will look like in the future, this will create a considerable strain on countries' ability to respond financially to storms.

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Kossin said the findings were of great importance to society. The fact that their results show quite similar trends should be a wake-up call. "The storms will stay in your neighborhoods longer".

He said beyond the changes in regularity and intensity of cyclones, their very "behaviour" was being affected by climate change.

Kossin would actually agree on that point.

In a warming world where atmospheric circulations are expected to change, the atmospheric circulation that drives tropical cyclone movement is expected to weaken.

"These trends are nearly certainly increasing local rainfall totals and freshwater flooding", Kossin said, "which is associated with very high mortality risk". "And when you start getting more and more lines of evidence that all point in the same direction, you get more confident in the answers".

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