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Editorial of the Day (9 July): Climate Change and Hurricanes

Context: Hurricane Beryl made history as the earliest Category 5 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

Other Major Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Hurricane Katrina 2005
  • Hurricane Sandy 2012
  • Hurricane Harvey 2017
  • Hurricane Maria 2017

Hurricane Formation

  • Hurricanes form over warm ocean waters near the equator.
  • Warm, moist air rises creating low pressure.
  • Surrounding air rushes in, rises, cools, and condenses into clouds and thunderstorms.
  • This system gains energy from the warm water, forming a hurricane if sustained wind speeds reach 119 kmph or higher.
  • The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorises hurricanes based on wind speed (Category 1: 119-153 kmph, Category 5: 252+ kmph).

Beryl’s Rapid Intensification

  • Beryl formed as a tropical depression on June 28th and became a hurricane within 24 hours.
  • It rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane, the first ever recorded in June.
  • By July 1st, Beryl reached Category 4 with winds exceeding 241 kmph, making landfall on Grenada.
  • On July 2nd, Beryl became the strongest July Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, reaching Category 5 with winds of 265.5 kmph.

Editorial of the Day (9 July): Climate Change and Hurricanes_4.1

Climate Change and Beryl’s Early Strength

  • The Atlantic hurricane season typically sees major hurricanes emerge in September due to cooler ocean temperatures earlier in the season.
  • Unusually warm ocean temperatures, both at the surface and deeper down, are considered a primary factor in Beryl’s early development and strength.
  • Rising ocean heat content (OHC) provides more energy for storms to develop and intensify.
  • While directly attributing a single hurricane to climate change is difficult, scientists believe warmer oceans contribute to rapid intensification events.

The Future of Hurricanes

  • The connection between climate change and hurricanes is a subject of ongoing scientific debate.
  • However, there is evidence that climate change may increase the frequency and intensity of rapid intensification events.
  • Warmer oceans could lead to the formation of even more powerful hurricanes in the future.

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