Last updated August 17, 2017

Increased Frequency Intense Atlantic Hurricanes

As the ocean warms, surface waters have more energy to convert to tropical cyclone winds, which scientists say is likely increasing the intensity of the most severe cyclonic events. This trend is strongest in the Atlantic, where rising ocean temperatures correlate closely to an increase in Atlantic tropical cyclone strength.

North Atlantic trends

There has been a substantial increase in virtually every measure of hurricane activity in the Atlantic since the 1970s. These increases are linked to higher sea surface temperatures in the region through which Atlantic hurricanes form and move.[1][2]

Since 1923, Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years.[3] Between 1971 and 2005, the observed increase in intense Atlantic cyclone activity corresponded to an increase in annual economic losses of 4 percent.[4]

By late this century, models project a slight decrease in the annual number of tropical cyclones, but an increase in the number of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes. Almost all existing studies also project greater rainfall rates, with projected increases of about 20 percent near the center of hurricanes.[5]


Global trends

Visit "Increased Frequency Intense Cyclones" to discover climate change links to global cyclone trends.