World February 28, 2023 | 3:00 pm

Consecutive hurricanes in the world could occur in the next few years

One hurricane is already catastrophic on its own, but a new study from Princeton University shows that back-to-back hurricanes could occur in many areas in the coming decades. Research has found that due to sea level rise and climate change, destructive hurricanes, and tropical storms could hit coastal areas in rapid succession. In an article published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers say that in some areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico coast, this double whammy could occur up to once every three years. “Sea level rise and climate change make a succession of damaging hurricanes more likely as the century progresses,” said Dazhi Xi, a postdoctoral researcher, former graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, and lead author of the paper. article. “The current phenomena, extremely rare, will become much more frequent.”

Researchers led by Ning Lin, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University, first raised questions about the increasing frequency of sequential hurricanes after a particularly destructive hurricane season in 2017. That summer, Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, followed by Irma in South Florida and Maria in Puerto Rico. The emergency planning challenges posed by 3 major hurricanes led researchers to wonder if multiple destructive storms could occur more easily due to climate change, and what steps could be taken to prepare for this. In late summer 2021, Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana, followed shortly thereafter by Tropical Storm Nicholas, which made landfall as a hurricane in Texas. The researchers said their study showed that sequential storms have become more common on the East Coast and the Gulf Coast, though they remain relatively rare.

“Sequential hurricane risks are already occurring, so we thought they needed to be studied,” Lin said. “There has been an increasing trend in recent decades.” The researchers ran computer simulations to determine the change in the probability of multiple destructive storms hitting the same area in a short period of time, such as 15 days, over the course of this century. They analyzed two scenarios: a future with moderate carbon emissions and another with higher emissions. In both cases, the probability of back-to-back destructive storms increased dramatically.

There is a general scientific consensus that climate change will increase the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes in the next century. However, the researchers note that there is some uncertainty as to whether the number of storms will increase, decrease or stay the same during that period. The model used by Lin’s team showed an increase in the number of storms, but other models have shown no increase. However, Lin’s team found that even without an increase in overall storm frequency, the increase in intensity will make areas of the East Coast and Gulf Coast much more likely to experience sequential storms.


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