Hurricanes Will Be In Unexpected Places On Earth This Century, Study Suggests

A team of scientists from Yale University has suggested that tropical cyclones (the scientific name for phenomena such as hurricanes and typhoons) will reach unusual places on the planet in this 21st century. Thus, cities such as New York, Boston, Beijing and Tokyo may be affected.

According to the research, published in Nature Geoscience, these phenomena will migrate to latitudes further north and south and thus cover a wider range than ever seen in the last 3 million years of the planet.

Clear omens of this meteorological change, the authors argue, could already be seen reflected in the subtropical storm Alpha (which first made landfall in Portugal in 2020) and Hurricane Henri (which reached Connecticut in the United States in 2021).

The study was based on satellite observations, weather projections and simulations of climates from Earth’s distant past, in eons with warm climates such as the Eocene and Pliocene. They also considered the fundamental physics that governs the convections of the planet’s atmosphere and winds.

The National Office for Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines tropical cyclones as rotating clouds and storms that use warm, moist air for fuel. For this reason, they only originate in the ocean at latitudes close to the Equator.

Depending on their ocean of origin, tropical cyclones are called hurricanes (Atlantic and eastern Pacific), typhoons, and cyclones (western Pacific). However, they all share the same characteristics.

According to records of tropical cyclones, these phenomena are more intense as global warming intensifies. However, there is no scientific consensus on whether climate change will also increase the number of these phenomena, which are usually around 90 each year.

“There are great uncertainties about how tropical cyclones will change in the future,” Alexey Fedorov, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “However, multiple lines of evidence indicate that we could see more tropical cyclones in mid-latitudes, even if the total frequency of tropical cyclones does not increase, which is still actively debated.”

The research was made possible with grants from NASA, NOAA, and the ARCHANGE project.