In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists discovered alarming evidence that Global warming is intensifying the world’s worst hurricanes, pushing them into the realm of what would be considered a hypothetical Category 6..
This revelation sheds light on the growing threat that climate change poses to coastal regions and highlights the need for new methods to communicate with the public. typhoon risk.
The study, co-authored by climate scientists Michael Wehner and Jim Kossin, shows that rising ocean and atmospheric temperatures, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, provides more energy for the development of severe tropical cyclones.
The effect of global warming on hurricanes
This increase in energy causes higher wind speeds and stronger storms, with five hurricanes and typhoons in the last decade possessing the ferocity to qualify for a hypothetical Category 6, based on a minimum threshold of 192 mph.
While the National Hurricane Center’s Saffir-Simpson scale currently has a Category 5 limit, The study’s authors emphasize that this classification underestimates the potential dangers of the strongest storms.
They advocated for the inclusion of a Category 6 to better reflect the increased risks associated with hurricanes enhanced by climate change. However, recognize that the implementation of the new category will require a comprehensive review process and collaboration between various stakeholders.
One of the critical limitations of the Saffir-Simpson scale is that it focuses only on wind speed, ignoring other important hazards such as storm surge and rainfall-induced flooding.
The study’s findings contribute to an ongoing discussion about How to Improve Hurricane Communication Strategies to Cover the Entire Hazard Spectrum caused by these strong storms.
By expanding the conversation beyond wind categories, experts hope to improve public understanding and preparedness for the multifaceted threat of hurricanes in a changing climate.
The hypothetical Category 6 serves as a symbol of the unprecedented challenges posed by climate change, urging scientists, policymakers and the public to face the reality of “supercharged” storms and its potential for destruction.
What is the Saffir-Simpson scale and what are its categories?
The Saffir-Simpson scale is a scale used to classify the strength of hurricanes based on sustained wind speed.
It was developed in 1971 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson, who at that time was the director of the United States National Hurricane Center.
The scale is divided into five categories, with Category 1 representing the least powerful storms and Category 5 the most severe and potentially damaging.
- Category 1:
- wind speed: 74-95 mph (119-153 km/h)
- Expected damage: Minimal damage. Mainly, to plants, unchorded signs, and minor damage to the exterior of buildings.
- Category 2:
- wind speed: 96-110 mph (154-177 km/h)
- Expected damage: Moderate damage. Extensive damage to roofs, doors and windows. Possible damage to docks and marinas. Flooding in low-lying coastal areas.
- Category 3:
- wind speed: 111-129 mph (178-208 km/h)
- Expected damage: Great damage. Heavy damage to small residences and buildings due to strong winds. Coastal flooding and possible small tornadoes.
- Category 4:
- wind speed: 130-156 mph (209-251 km/h)
- Expected damage: Destructive damage. Roofs and exterior walls will be destroyed in residences; most trees will be cut down or severely damaged. Areas inundated by rising seas.
- Category 5:
- wind speed: 157 mph or more (252 km/h more)
- Expected damage: Destructive damage on a large scale. Most homes will be destroyed, trees will be uprooted, and residential areas will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
The Saffir-Simpson scale is important for emergency planning and hurricane responses, as it provides a quick guide to potential damage and helps authorities and the population adequately prepare before its arrival. events.
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