Two climate scientists are proposing a sixth category for hurricanes, according to a new study, as climate change increasingly intensifies these storms.
In one study, published Monday In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the two scientists argued that the “unlimited” scale of Hurricane Saffir Simpson's winds was becoming increasingly “inadequate” as the planet continues to warm.
The scale, developed in the early 1970s, may not reflect the true intensity of some storms, argued study co-authors Michael F. Wehner — a climatologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab — and James P. Kossin – former climate and NOAA specialist. hurricane researcher.
Under their proposal, a Category 6 designation would apply to storms with winds exceeding 192 miles per hour.
Storms with winds of 250 km/h or more are currently classified as Category 5, an open-ended approach that fails to adequately warn people of the dangers of higher wind speeds, the study says.
The study's co-authors believe the unlimited nature of the current scale will cause people to underestimate the risk of some hurricanes, which will become “increasingly problematic in a warming world.”
“We see that a number of recent storms have already reached this hypothetical Category 6 intensity and, based on several independent lines of evidence examining the highest simulated and potential maximum wind speeds, more storms of this type are projected as the climate continues to warm,” the study stated.
Since 2013, five of them – all in the Pacific – have reached wind speeds of 300 km/h or more, with warming likely to bring even stronger weather, the Associated Press reported (AP ).
“Climate change is making the worst storms worse,” Wehner told the news wire.
Some experts told the AP they don't think another category is necessary and could give people the wrong impression because it is based on wind speed rather than water — the element most killer of hurricanes.
Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, reportedly noted that climate change is not causing more storms, but rather an intensification of storms and an increase in the proportion of major hurricanes. This is due to warming oceans, McNoldy said.
Kossin told the AP that storms in the Pacific are stronger because there is less land to weaken them, unlike in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Although no storms in the Atlantic have reached the 300 km/h threshold, Kossin and Wehner told the news wire that global warming will create greater chances in the future.
Jamie Rhome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, told the news wire that his office tries “to focus on individual hazards, which include storm surge, wind, precipitation, tornadoes and rip currents , instead of the special storm category, which only provides information on wind danger.
Rhome added that a Category 5 already suggests “catastrophic damage” from wind, so adding a higher category would not be necessary even in the event storms become stronger, the AP noted.
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