All tropical storms start out as a tropical wave and they either become a hurricane or they fade away, meaning the storm weakens before coming hurricane intensity. When naming a storm, it has to reach tropical storm intensity before it is given a name. We can say that tropical storms are increasing due to the number of tropical storms that have developed over the years. Also, we can say that tropical storms are decreasing with more catastrophic hurricanes forming. Another reason we could say is, there is no change in tropical storms, meaning they aren’t decreasing or increasing. They’re basically staying neutral throughout the year with less to more major hurricanes. This blog will discuss several factors and data with referring to, is tropical storms more frequent or less frequent in the Atlantic and East Pacific because of climate change.
Tropical storms have increased and the number of major hurricanes, which is considered category 3 or stronger, have also increased as well, according to meteorologist experts. Looking back to, for example, in 2011 there was 19 named storms in the Atlantic and 15 named storms in the East Pacific Basin, for the Atlantic that is way above average, but for the East Pacific Basin its actually at average amount of tropical storms. The number of major hurricanes reported for the Atlantic in 2011 was three, which is above average for major hurricanes in the Atlantic. In the East Pacific Basin, there was 6 major hurricanes which is above average as well. Now if you look a year ahead in 2012 the numbers are kind of the same in terms of tropical storms, except there was less catastrophic hurricanes but there were still major hurricanes. Now if you skip 8 to 10 years ahead, you’ll see the huge jump in tropical storms and major hurricanes, in 2020 there was 30 named tropical storms and 6 of them became major hurricanes in the Atlantic, which is way above average and the most out of the last 10 years in the Atlantic. Although, in the East Pacific Basin, the number of tropical storms were above average but not as much as the previous years but what’s really insane is 16 storms were named, 4 of them became hurricane strength and 3 of those hurricanes became major hurricanes. So, looking at that, most of the hurricanes that form in the Pacific in 2020 became very intense and that just shows an increase in tropical storms for both oceans in terms of looking back the past 10 years. It shows an increase in tropical storms because the number of tropical storms from 2011 to 2020 and 2021, where there were 21 named storms for that year, have increased significantly and with that number of tropical storms forming, more hurricanes are intended to form, along with major/catastrophic hurricanes. With that intended, the increase is based on how many tropical storms have been created in both oceans the past 10 years causing more hurricanes or major hurricanes to form.
With the terms of tropical storms being less frequent, the data doesn’t really show a decreased according to the data above, they have increased over the past 100 years. There may be a decrease in some years but looking at in an overall and the impacts these storms cause on land shows that tropical storms are more frequent with along with more major hurricanes. For example, in the Atlantic after 2012 from 2013 to 2015, tropical storms stay below average but major hurricanes stay average except in 2013 there was no major hurricanes and with that being said the storms from the previous years had above average tropical storms which caused several above average major hurricanes, which probably decreased the chances of storms being created in the Atlantic for those upcoming years (2013-2015). Although, in the East Pacific, it stayed way above average, except in 2013 when they only had 1 reported catastrophic hurricane and the above averages kept occurring until 2019, when they only reported 3 major hurricanes which is below average for them, but the number of tropical storms stay near or above average. From 2016 to 2021, in the Atlantic storms rapidly picked up and each year they increased in more tropical storms to more major hurricanes. Even though, in 2021 less tropical storms formed compared to 2020(30 tropical storms), but the number of tropical storms and hurricanes were still way above average. From 2019-2021, major hurricanes in the East Pacific have chilled but the number of tropical storms stay above or near average. We can say with this data that tropical storms aren’t decreasing based on an overall time period, but they decrease for several years and then rapidly pick up again causing major hurricanes. This possibly happens because once there’s a lot of activity in the ocean for a long period of time the ocean becomes weak, and the sea surface temperatures cool for the next year to come around and as the years go on the ocean begins to warm up, which then builds up intensity for more tropical storms and catastrophic hurricanes.
Some may say that tropical storms are neither increasing or decreasing but staying the same or no change at all throughout the years. The reason of this is because tropical storms form every year no matter what there’s always a tropical storm forming at sometime during the year, and what was mentioned above about how tropical storms and hurricanes fluctuate throughout the years, has people thinking that if it does this frequently then there’s no change to it and its actually normal for these things to happen due to previous yearly data. Although, it has been analyzed that, storms have been increasing due to greenhouse gases being pushed into our atmosphere and the warming of the sea surface temperature and many other factors over the years proves this theory wrong, but it’s still looked at staying the same because of how the tropical storms and hurricanes fluctuate over the years, meaning to them this is normal.
We can argue this topic many different ways but the one that seems the most effective and accurate due to data is that tropical storms are increasing based off of greenhouse gases and warming of our oceans. With this said, it doesn’t mean the other people are wrong because there’s not enough data to tell us if there has been a decrease or no change when looking at certain factors and analyzing our ocean life. The data we have collected though points in the direction of tropical storms increasing along with hurricanes increasing. If there was a decrease in tropical storms, we would see cooler sea surface temperature also we would see more ice glaciers in our poles because if the poles are melting it means the waters are getting warmer, which means where there’s typically warmer water, that water is becoming warmer, which is forming more tropical storms in our oceans where they typically form. Lastly, if there’s no change to tropical storms, we have to analyze more data or go back even further into depth to see those outcomes and those outcomes would have to be that the sea temperatures never change or if they do change it’s not causing more effect to the tropical storms. Also, we would have to look into wind shear data, coastal populations, and other factors that help form a tropical storm. Inconclusion, there’s so much data we have to look at to determine these possibilities but as of right now, professionals are stating that tropical storms are increasing due to sea surface temperatures, wind shear, increased coastal populations, carbon dioxide levels or other greenhouse gas levels. Lastly, sea levels, if the sea levels are high that means ice is melting and temperatures are warming, causing the sea levels to rise along with the temperature of the water, which in fact helps create tropical storms and with the sea levels being so high that could cause catastrophic storm surges. When in doubt, we can believe tropical storms are increasing as of right now.
Let’s relook at the question, “Are tropical storms more frequent or less frequent, due to climate change?” With the data above showing how tropical storms have moved throughout the years and seeing them form not as much in other years and then seeing them rapidly pick up again in the present, we can say that climate change plays a role in this, because the more greenhouse gases being pumped in the atmosphere, causes the Earth to warm, which causes our sea temperatures to warm, and the causes more frequent tropical storms to occur. When there are less greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere, it doesn’t necessarily make the Earth cool, but it definitely drops the frequency of tropical storms forming because without that extra help from the greenhouse gases causing the Earth to warm, it will either drop the frequency of tropical storms or you’ll see average to low average tropical storms for that year. Also, what can take in effect is if the climate is rainy in locations, where these tropical storms form, there’s a less frequent chance of tropical storms being above average during hurricane season because there was already a lot of moisture being brought to that area before the hurricane season, which also can limit the chances of tropical storms forming because the amount of moisture that has fallen over the year depicts of how many tropical storms will form for that year’s hurricane season. With that being said, the more moisture these areas get during the year before the hurricane season, will really drop the frequency of tropical storms forming rapidly. Climate change could also cause there to be no change in tropical storms, meaning climate can be changing in a location but just because it’s more rainy or sunny doesn’t mean it’s going to predict the hurricane season, when talking about, are tropical storms going to be frequent or less frequent. When you talk about climate changing in a location, people think that it will not matter, there’s still going to be tropical storms that form no matter what climate change has an effect on that specific location. They believe this could be happening naturally and there’s no way to tell if climate change is playing a role or not because we’ve been burning greenhouse gases and pumping them into our atmosphere for many years and people think if we’ve been doing that for a while, and we see that for several years tropical storms have fluctuated over the past millions of years. So, they believe climate isn’t affecting the frequency of tropical storms but the fact that it’s happening naturally with no certain cause as to why there’s less or more frequent tropical storms.
Now that you read through my first blog, thank you and hopefully now you have a better idea about how tropical storms are more frequent, less frequent, or having no change at all in frequency of tropical storms, due to climate change. The next subtopic we will talk about is, how high sea levels, impact damage from a storm surge, meaning when sea levels are high, the storm surge can cause catastrophic damage and we’ll talk about how that impacts our land and what climate change does to make these levels rise.
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