The maximum speed of subtropical Atlantic hurricanes near Bermuda has more than doubled on average over the past 60 years. Scientists call this a consequence of rising ocean temperatures in the region due to climate change. The connection between the two phenomena is revealed in an article published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The catastrophic intensification of hurricanes comes at the expense of energy that is given to the atmosphere by the ocean surface in the form of heat. Between 1955 and 2019, the average intensity of hurricanes near Bermuda, estimated from maximum wind speeds, increased from 56 to 113 kilometers per hour (an increase of 10 kilometers per hour over a decade). At the same time, ocean surface temperatures increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius.
The researchers also developed a method for predicting hurricane strength, using hurricane potential intensity theory, weather sounding data, and observations of the surface and upper ocean layer within and around hurricanes passing within a hundred kilometers of Bermuda over the past 65 years. It turned out that for a more accurate prediction it is necessary to take into account not only the temperature of the sea surface but also the heat contained in the upper layer of seawater.