Will Global Warming Cause More Katrina-Sized Hurricanes?

New data reveals that rising temperatures will cause many more massive hurricanes.

We won’t just be seeing a few more hurricanes each year, either. Research shows that higher temperatures will multiply the number of Hurricane Katrina-sized storms.

A new study from a team of international researchers at Beijing Normal University has found that even just a small temperature increase will cause massive increases in massive hurricanes. As National Geographic stated, “for every 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (one degree Celsius) rise of the Earth’s temperature, the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic that are as strong or stronger than Hurricane Katrina will increase twofold to sevenfold.”

Katrina was no mild rainshower. The hurricane remained a Category 5 storm for 24 hours in August 2005, the highest ranking for a storm. Katrina caused $80 billion in damages and killed more than 200 people. The hurricane actually lost strength as it passed over the Florida peninsula, but gained power as it surged over the Gulf of Mexico, slamming into New Orleans with massive destructive force.

“Our results support the idea that changes in regional sea surface temperatures is the primary cause of hurricane variability,” Aslak Girnstead told National Geographic. Girnstead is a researcher at the Center for Ice and Climate at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

We’ve already seen the rise in hurricanes beginning. The temperature increase over the course of the 20th century has already doubled the frequency of these powerful hurricanes. But this increase could become even worse in the 21st century, with Category 5 storms increasing by up to 700 percent.

While this acceleration may seem oddly large, it’s not as surprising when you take into account global temperature increases. Another study published earlier this year showed that Earth’s temperature is rising at the fastest rate in 11,300 years, caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane. Yet another study earlier this month also found that global temperatures have reached a 4,000-year high point.

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