The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped since the 1990s, according to a study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The shift occurred as global sea surface temperatures have increased over the same period. The research will appear in the September 16 issue of the journal Science, published by the AAAS, the science society, the worlds largest general scientific organization.
The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years. Image courtesy Peter Webster/Georgia Tech
Peter Webster, professor at Georgia Techs School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, along with NCARs Greg Holland and Techs Judith Curry and Hai-Ru Chang, studied the number, duration and intensity of hurricanes (also known as typhoons or tropical cyclones) that have occurred worldwide from 1970 to 2004. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
"What we found was rather astonishing," said Webster. "In the 1970s, there was an average of about 10 Category 4 and 5 hurricanes per year globally. Since 1990, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled, averaging 18 per year globally."
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