Tropical cyclones will become longer and more devastating, new research shows

·3 min read

Tropical cyclones are now longer and cause more devastation, according to a study published by researchers from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. And the trend will intensify as time goes on, the study says.

The study, published Tuesday in Frontier Earth Science, looked at historical data of tropical cyclones that hit East and Southeast Asian regions from 1979 to 2016. It found that storms now last two to nine hours longer and reached19 to 118 miles further inland.

The most significant increase occurred over Hanoi, Vietnam and South China, the study says.

Tropical cyclones have been devastating weather events, both on a human and economic scale.

In 1970, a tropical cyclone in Bangladesh led to 300,000 deaths, according to the World Meteorological Association, an intergovernmental United Nations organization for meteorology.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused nearly $164 billion in losses after hitting the Atlantic coast of the United States, according to data from the WMO.

The study also examines what tropical cyclones look like in the future.

Scientists predict that by the end of the 21st century the stronger storms will last about five hours longer and reach about 148 miles further inland.

Will climate change make things worse?

Though tropical cyclones are a natural occurrence, warming of the ocean's surface from human-induced climate change is probably generating more powerful tropical cyclones, according to Climate.gov, a site that publishes authoritative scientific data on climate change.

"We expect as the climate warms, that it's likely that tropical cyclones will become more intense," says Tom Knutson, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Knutson says that for every 2-degree increase in warming, wind speeds increase by about 5%. Knutson also estimates that the fraction of high-category storms (level 4 or level 5) will increase with a warmer planet.

Rising sea levels linked to human-induced climate change also play a role in creating more devastating floods in these tropical storms, Knutson says.

Weather events get worse worldwide: Weather disasters are getting worse worldwide, report says. But the good news is they aren't as deadly.

What are tropical cyclones? Are they hurricanes or typhoons?

Tropical cyclones bring high winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges. They are one of the most devastating types of natural disasters to coastal regions, the study says.

Cyclones fall under the same umbrella as hurricanes and typhoons, according to Knutson. All of them are essentially tropical storms, and the names are different depending on where they occur.

"It's really the same storm, but in different regions populations have come up with different names," Knutson says.

A storm is labeled a hurricane if it forms over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific, a cyclone if it happens over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, and a typhoon if it develops over the Northwest Pacific Ocean, according to BBC.

All of these storms are expected to become worse and more devastating as climate change progresses, Knutson says.

You can reach the author Michelle Shen @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical cyclones last hours longer and are more devastating

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting