In a warming world, climate scientists consider category 6 hurricanes

20
In a warming world, climate scientists consider category 6 hurricanes


For more than 50 years, the National Hurricane Center has used the Saffir-Simpson Windscale to communicate the risk of property damage; it labels a hurricane on a scale from Category 1 (wind speeds between 74 – 95 mph) to Category 5 (wind speeds of 158 mph or greater).

But as increasing ocean temperatures contribute to ever more intense and destructive hurricanes, climate scientists Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and James Kossin of the First Street Foundation wondered whether the open-ended Category 5 is sufficient to communicate the risk of hurricane damage in a warming climate. So they investigated and detailed their extensive research in a new article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), where they also introduce a hypothetical Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, which might encompass storms with wind speeds greater than 192 mph.

“Our motivation is to reconsider how the open-endedness of the Saffir-Simpson Scale can lead to underestimation of risk, and, in particular, how this underestimation becomes increasingly problematic in a warming world,” said Wehner, who has spent his career studying the behavior of extreme weather events in a changing climate and to what extent human influence has contributed to individual events.

– Michael Wehner

According to Wehner, anthropogenic global warming has significantly increased surface ocean and tropospheric air temperatures in regions where hurricanes, tropical cyclones, and typhoons form and propagate, providing additional heat energy for storm intensification. When the team performed a historical data analysis of hurricanes from 1980 to 2021, they found five storms that might have been classified as Category 6, and all of them occurred in the last nine years of record. They determined a hypothetical upper bound for Category 5 hurricanes by looking at the expanding range of wind speeds between the lower-category storms.

Hurricanes, tropical storms, and typhoons are essentially the same weather phenomenon; their name difference is purely geographical: storms in the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific Oceans are called hurricanes, events in the Northwest Pacific Ocean are called typhoons, and occurrences in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans are called tropical cyclones.

In addition to studying the past, the researchers analyzed simulations to explore how warming climates might impact hurricane intensification. Their models showed that with two degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels, the risk of Category 6 storms increases by up to 50% near the Philippines and doubles in the Gulf of Mexico and that the highest risk of these storms is in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the Gulf of Mexico.

“Even under the relatively low global warming targets of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to just 1.5°C above preindustrial temperatures by the end of this century, the increased chances of Category 6 storms are substantial in these simulations,” said Wehner.

“Tropical cyclone risk messaging is a very active topic, and changes in messaging are necessary to better inform the public about inland flooding and storm surge, phenomena that a wind-based scale is only tangentially relevant to. While adding a 6th category to the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale might not solve that issue, it can raise awareness about the perils of the increased risk of major hurricanes due to global warming,” said Kossin.

 “Our results are not meant to propose changes to this scale, but rather to raise awareness that the wind-hazard risk from storms presently designated as Category 5 has increased and will continue to increase under climate change.”

View the study


Disasters Expo USA, is proud to be supported by Inergency for their next upcoming edition on March 6th & 7th 2024!

The leading event mitigating the world’s most costly disasters is returning to the Miami Beach

Convention Center and we want you to join us at the industry’s central platform for emergency management professionals.
Disasters Expo USA is proud to provide a central platform for the industry to connect and
engage with the industry’s leading professionals to better prepare, protect, prevent, respond
and recover from the disasters of today.
Hosting a dedicated platform for the convergence of disaster risk reduction, the keynote line up for Disasters Expo USA 2024 will provide an insight into successful case studies and
programs to accurately prepare for disasters. Featuring sessions from the likes of The Federal Emergency Management Agency,
NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TSA and several more this event is certainly providing you with the knowledge
required to prepare, respond and recover to disasters.
With over 50 hours worth of unmissable content, exciting new features such as their Disaster
Resilience Roundtable, Emergency Response Live, an Immersive Hurricane Simulation and
much more over just two days, you are guaranteed to gain an all-encompassing insight into
the industry to tackle the challenges of disasters.
By uniting global disaster risk management experts, well experienced emergency
responders and the leading innovators from the world, the event is the hub of the solutions
that provide attendees with tools that they can use to protect the communities and mitigate
the damage from disasters.
Tickets for the event are $119, but we have been given the promo code: HUGI100 that will
enable you to attend the event for FREE!

So don’t miss out and register today: https://shorturl.at/aikrW

And in case you missed it, here is our ultimate road trip playlist is the perfect mix of podcasts, and hidden gems that will keep you energized for the entire journey

-

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More