Is climate change affecting hurricanes? What we do – and don’t – know

Chanh Kieu is Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science at Indiana University

Hurricane Harvey, with its historic amount of rainfall over Texas, followed by a string of Hurricanes IrmaJose and Katia in the North Atlantic basin in 2017, has triggered longstanding questions about any linkage between hurricanes and climate. 

Can we really blame these recent hurricanes on climate changes? Or are they simply a coincidence of nature happening once every few decades, similar to the triple of Hurricanes Beulah, Chloe and Doria back in 1967?

Answering these questions lies at the heart of the current hurricane climate research that atmospheric scientists are trying to understand. There are signs that climate change can influence hurricanes in several different ways. However, these signals are inconclusive due to our inadequate understanding of how hurricanes interact with the…

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