Atlantic Hurricanes Doubled Over Last Century


About twice as many Atlantic hurricanes form each year on average than a century ago. This according to a new analysis by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Warmer sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and altered wind patterns associated with global climate change are fueling much of the increase. The analysis identifies three periods since 1900, separated by sharp transitions, during which the average number of hurricanes and tropical storms increased dramatically and then remained elevated and relatively steady. SSTs have risen by about 1.3 degrees F in the last 100 years, and other studies indicate that most of the rise in Atlantic sea surface temps can be attributed to global warming. “Even a quiet year by today’s standards would be considered normal or slightly active compared to an average year in the early part of the 20th century,” says study author, Greg Holland.

By the way, the current period has not yet stabilized. So the average hurricane season could be even more active in the future. . . The planet lives and breathes in powerful ways. Here’s an amazing video recap of some of the 2005 hurricane season. Stunningly beautiful. Terrifying. JULIA WHITTY

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  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.