Tropical cyclones are already getting stronger, new dataset shows

Tropical Cyclone Amphan nears the coasts of India and Bangladesh on May 19.

Enlarge / Tropical Cyclone
Amphan nears the coasts of India and Bangladesh on May 19. (credit:

NASA EO
)

Science is relatively straightforward when you can compare a
model prediction to data and assume that the former accurately
represents our theories and the latter accurately represents what’s
going on in nature. But the data isn’t always up to the task of
providing a good representation of the natural world for one reason
or another. That’s part of what makes the relationship between
climate change and tropical cyclones something that requires a bit
of explanation.

Trend spotting

From climate-model projections (and basic physics), some things
are pretty well established: sea level rise worsens storm surge
damage, warmer temperatures increase the atmosphere’s ability to
hold water vapor (and dump it as rain), and warmer temperatures
increase the energy available to make tropical cyclones stronger.
Sea level rise is obviously easy enough to measure, but checking
records of tropical cyclones for trends in intensity is much more
complicated.

This is partly because tropical cyclones in different ocean
basins can be affected by natural variations in regional
atmospheric patterns and ocean temperatures. But the larger problem
is that our methods of collecting data on tropical cyclones have
changed—and improved—over time. If a trend appears in the data,
is it real or is it just an artifact of the advent of comprehensive
satellite coverage? (A trend possibly extended by improvements in
satellite resolution or instrumentation.)

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Tropical cyclones are already getting stronger, new dataset
shows