Climate Change Makes Hurricane Destruction Worse
A study from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University published in Nature predicts that hurricanes will remain stronger and persist longer after making landfall, causing greater and more widespread destruction, because of ocean waters heated by climate change. In the 1960s, hurricanes lost 75 percent of their energy in the first day after making landfall, but more recent hurricanes lost only about 50 percent of their energy in that same time.
Hurricanes feed off heat energy from the sea and rapidly lose strength once they reach land. Pinaki Chakraborty, a senior author of the study, and its lead author, Ph.D. student Lin Li, analyzed data on storms that made landfall after forming in the North Atlantic between 1967 and 2018. They found that how slowly the storms weakened closely matched changes in sea surface temperatures during the same period. From computer simulations of hurricanes, they discovered that hotter temperatures allowed the hurricanes to hold on to more moisture, which they could continue to use as a source of heat energy once they reached land.