Does GlobalWarming Increase the Power of Hurricanes? (with video)

The quick answer is yes. now how? The first thing to learn is how are hurricanes formed? Oceans are the common starting point of hurricanes. As warm sea surface level faces the winds in a low pressure area, these surface level sea evaporates into water vapor, and being in a low pressure area, with the cool winds and hot water vapor, this condenses and evaporates and continues to rise in a cycle which starts the birth of these hurricanes. Along with the correct conditions of winds, and locations not along the equator and other factors. But basically, it all starts with warm sea surface.

And with the current increases in global temperatures, below are graphs of sea surface temperature (SST) and hurricane potential damage intensity (PDI). This PDI is a measure that factors in wind velocity and duration of a hurricane.

Sea Surface Temperature and Hurricane Potential Damage Intensity in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic SST and PDI


Sea Surface Temperature and Hurricane Potential Damage Intensity in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean
Atlantic and Western Pacific SST and PDI

Graphs were taken from the presentation of Dr. Richard Sommerville, Professor on Climate Science, Expert on Global Climate Change and Climate Theory and Specialist on computer modeling of climate systems from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. A video of the whole presentation below of the said presentation held last October 17, 2005.

Hurricanes has increased by 70% worldwide in the past 3 decades, and this increase is due to about 15% increase in the maximum wind speed and about 60% in storm duration. Hurricane intensity is usually categorized into 5. Simply named by the numbers 1 to 5 where the most dangerous ones are Category 4 with wind speeds of 131 to 155 miles per hour and Category 5 with speeds going beyond 155 miles per hour.

Over the past 3 decades of global warming, with temperature increases, there has been an observed pattern in the increase of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes that has doubled over 3 decades and was observed globally as Category 1, 2 and 3 hurricanes have decreased.

Sea Surface Temperature Increases shown per Ocean
Sea Surface Temperature with increases over time taken from:
NIO – North Indian Ocean
WPAC – West Pacific Ocean
SPAC – South Pacific Ocean
SIO – South Indian Ocean
NATL – North Atlantic Ocean
EPAC – East Pacific Ocean


Increase of Category 4 and 5 Hurricanes over time. With Decreased in Category 1, 2 and 3.
Category 1, 2 and 3 has been decreasing as Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have increased.

The world’s oceans account for about 84% of all the heat added to the entire earth system. A global increase in temperature increases sea surface temperatures. This does not necessarily mean global warming will give you worse and more powerful hurricanes. Although it means globalwarming may increase the probability of the formation of these category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

So as part of our awareness2007 movement, whether or not globalwarming is caused by man-made CO2 or not, the earth is still showing a pattern of heating up. Greenhouse effect or sunspot cycles, globalwarming is still an issue. And appropriate precautions must be done to avoid further destruction.

The sources of the information and graphs are shown in the presentation of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. You may watch the full presentation below.

Other independent studies on global warming and hurricane strength relationship:

  • Global Warming Linked to Stronger Hurricanes, Seth Borenstein, AP

    Mentions research by the IPCC. MIT professor Kerry Emmanuel who pioneered in the relationship of global warming and hurricane strength saying it is evident although U.S. National Hurricane Center scientist Christopher Landsea disagrees and does not want to comment on IPCC decisions.
  • 2 Studies Link Global Warming to Greater Power of Hurricanes
    The New York Times, John Schwartz

    Talks about the geophysical research of Matthew Huber of the Purdue department of earth and atmospheric sciences and Ryan L. Sriver, a graduate student there, calculating the potential damage saying it coincides with MIT professor, Kerry Emmanuel. Similarly someone also disagrees, Stanley B. Goldenberg, a meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who has expressed skepticism about any connection between global warming and hurricane intensity, said he had not seen the new papers but had read nothing in other recent research to change his view.

5 thoughts on “Does GlobalWarming Increase the Power of Hurricanes? (with video)”

  1. @easycruise – Thanks

    @Junelle – Sounds practical

    @Molapo – I’m glad you like my site and find it informative. I will be posting more.

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