A group of scientists have found that hurricanes are getting much more intense and destructive, largely as a result of climate change, after they worked out how to separate the changes in economics of an area from the actual physical damage.
In the past, measuring damage from storms has been controversial because increased damage might be due to an increase in people and wealth where they strike. But a new model allowed them to look at the land itself rather than what was on it to determine storm impacts.
The biggest and most damaging hurricanes are now three times more frequent than they were 100 years ago, the scientists found. Publishing in a US-based academic journal this week, the researchers explained how they measured historic damage, as researchers in the field agree that atmospheric models predict that major hurricanes will get more intense as Earth warms.
“Our data reveal an emergent positive trend in damage which we attribute to a detectable change in extreme storms due to global warming,” the authors stated, adding that the model they have used is a more reliable measure for climate-related changes in extreme weather and can be used for better risk assessments on hurricane disasters.
Using this new method of calculating the destruction, the scientists said the increase in intensity and frequency of the worst of storms is “unequivocal”. And global warming is fuelling the increase.
In the past measuring damage has concluded that the increase was related to wealth, but instead of looking just at the economics, these scientists looked at the land itself that was destroyed from more than 240 storms between 1900 and 2018.