Hurricane Forecasting in a Warming Climate

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A recent study by Dr. Kerry Emanuel, professor and co-director of the Lorenz Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), looked into how global warming may complicate hurricane forecasting in the future. The findings were published in an article titled, “Will Global Warming Make Hurricane Forecasting More Difficult?” in the March 2017 edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS)

In the U.S., the frequency of tropical cyclones is projected to increase by 118% with a 10% increase in maximum speed. This can lead to greater damage and destruction, especially along coastlines and in coastal megacities where the populations have been increasing, and are expected to continue growing well into the next few decades. Globally, the population exposed to tropical cyclone hazards increased by 200% from 1970 to 2010.

Major U.S. metropolitan areas including Houston, New Orleans, Tampa, and Miami are increasingly vulnerable in the face of rapidly intensifying hurricane landfalls. Difficulty in forecasting these intensified extreme events, combined with unbridled population growth in such areas, can lead to major issues in disaster planning and response.