Tropical Storms - An Effect of Climate Change

Tropical Storms or "Storms that originate over tropical waters are known by different names in different parts of the world. They're called hurricanes in the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans, typhoons in the Asian Pacific and cyclones in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere" (Source).

The link between tropical storms and climate change is becoming increasingly evident as scientific research continues to highlight the ways in which global warming exacerbates the intensity and frequency of these weather events. Warmer ocean temperatures, a direct result of climate change, provide more energy for the development and strengthening of tropical storms, leading to more powerful and destructive hurricanes and typhoons. Additionally, higher atmospheric temperatures increase the capacity for moisture, resulting in heavier rainfall and more severe flooding during these storms. Rising sea levels, another consequence of climate change, exacerbate the impact of storm surges, causing greater coastal erosion and inundation. This complex interplay between climate change and tropical storms underscores the urgent need for comprehensive climate action to mitigate these increasingly severe weather phenomena and protect vulnerable communities.

Big Storm Just Ahead

What are Tropical Storms?

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all types of tropical storms, which cause huge waves in the sea resulting in flooding of nearby areas. Additionally, the strong winds associated with these storms cause enormous damage to the land (Source).

To recap:

  • "Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific" (Source).
  • "Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean" (Source).
  • "Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean" (Source).

Warm and cold air in the tropical region results in a pressure difference in the region because the warm air rises and is replaced by cold air. A low-pressured area accompanied by a thunderstorm creates a tropical storm, and once this storm gains wind speeds of greater than 63 kilometres per hour, it is given a name (Source).

"If storm's sustained wind speeds continue to grow, reaching 119 kilometres per hour, it becomes a hurricane and earns a category rating of 1 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale" (Source).

Tropical Storm

Tropical Storms and Climate Change

On June 7, 2020, Storm Cristobal made landfall on Louisiana's coast after causing destruction along the Gulf of Mexico. With 328.9mm of rain falling within 24-hours, the storm caused significant flooding and landslides, cutting off communities in the area (Source).

People have witnessed several occasions of the above-normal storm season, and global warming is making the occurrence more frequent. 

 "One NASA study from late 2018 supports the notion that global warming is causing the number of extreme storms to increase, at least over Earth's tropical oceans (between 30 degrees North and South of the equator)" (Source).

Another such study suggests, "there would be fewer weak and moderate storms and more of the big damaging ones, which also are projected to be stronger due to warming." Researchers agree that the world would likely face stronger storms because of warming temperatures (Source).

The overall strength of storms, as measured in wind speed, would rise by two to 11 percent. And an 11 percent increase in wind speed translates to roughly a 60 percent increase in damages (Source).

Tree in Storm

Example: Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2017

The Atlantic Hurricane Season 2017 is a prime example of three back-to-back hurricanes within a month. Hurricane Harvey, Irma & Maria swept across Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean, killing several people (Source). 

With advanced technologies, scientists are now able to forecast the storms and their paths with very high accuracy. They know about the developing storms in advance and are better prepared to deal with them. 

Lightning Storm

Economic Costs

However, all such preparatory measures still lead to a huge economic loss to the governments. Battling climate change and limiting global warming seems to be the only solution, which could lead to a reduction in the severity of these tropical storms. 

We need to realize that if we further delay climate action, the costs will just get steeper over time. The cost of doing nothing will be far greater than the cost of taking action now before it is too late.

Unfortunately, we will need to expect bigger hurricanes for the foreseeable future.

Furthermore, "On Sept. 15, 1999, the United Nations issued a report predicting that global [warming] will cause more frequent and more severe tropical storms, floods and tornadoes in the coming century" (Source).

We have to keep in mind that there are many other effects of climate change as well.

Protecting Tree in Storm

Further Reading and Sources


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