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Atlantic, Caribbean Storms Strengthen With Warming

By Sebastien Malo, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans will grow more than twice as powerful and damaging as ocean temperatures rise from global warming, a new study says.

Hurricane Joaquin is seen over the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean in an image from the NOAA GOES West satellite taken on Oct. 1, 2015.
Credit: NOAA/Reuters

Warming seas could produce more rainfall and far more destructive storm surges of water along the ocean shorelines in the next 50 to 100 years, said the study by U.S. scientists published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"It could affect the entire Atlantic coast," said William Lau, a co-author and research associate at the University of Maryland's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center.

Simulation showed future storms with as much as 180 percent more rain than what occurred during Superstorm Sandy, which heavily damaged the Northeastern United States in 2012, he said.

"The rainfall itself is probably way out in the ocean, but the storm surge would be catastrophic," he said

In 2012, Sandy killed 159 people and inflicted $71 billion in damage as it battered the U.S. coast, especially in the states of New Jersey and New York. Nearly 200,000 households obtained emergency government assistance, and rebuilding remains stalled in some areas.

Simulating weather patterns with higher ocean temperatures rising due to global warming, the study found future hurricanes could generate forces 50 to 160 percent more destructive than Sandy.

Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst

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