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Sub-tropical storm Theta, which formed in the open waters of the Atlantic this week, became the 29th named storm for this year’s hurricane season, beating the 2005 total. Scientists can’t say for sure if global warming is causing more hurricanes, but you can are confident that it will change the behavior of storms. Here is how.

Higher winds. There is solid scientific consensus that hurricanes are getting stronger. Hurricanes are complex, but one of the key factors that will determine how severe a particular storm will ultimately be is the ocean surface temperature, as warmer water provides more energy that powers storms.

More rain. Heating also increases the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can hold. With every degree of temperature rise, the air can absorb around 7 percent more water. That said, we can assume that future storms will trigger greater amounts of precipitation.

Slower storms. Researchers don’t yet know why storms move more slowly, but they are. Slower, wetter storms make flooding worse.

Sweeping storms. As warmer water fuels hurricanes, climate change increases the area in which hurricanes can form. That could mean more storms land at higher latitudes, like in the US or Japan.

More volatility. As the climate warms, researchers also expect the storms to intensify faster. Researchers still aren’t sure why this is happening, but the trend seems clear.

That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.

– Melina

Many thanks
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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